Opinion: Five tips to testify effectively for fair rent in front of the RGB

Some of the members of the Rent Guidelines Board, pictured at a hearing last year (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Angela Pham, member, Met Council on Housing

At my day job, I’m a professional storyteller — I use words and stories strategically to get executives to buy something. This kind of persuasion is handy not only in a business context, but also to be heard in other areas.

But you don’t have to be a professional storyteller to see impact. With the upcoming Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) vote, we all have the opportunity to use stories for persuasion.

If you’re a rent-stabilized tenant, or are just an everyday citizen concerned about the lack of affordable housing in our city, you can use your voice for good by providing a 2-minute testimony in one of the upcoming public hearings.

The downtown Manhattan Hearing will be Wednesday, June 14 from 2-8 p.m. at Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House 1 Bowling Green.

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Tenants may get rent freeze

Tenant activists  interrupt the Rent Guidelines Board meeting to demand a rollback. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Tenant activists interrupt the Rent Guidelines Board meeting to demand a rollback. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After the historic rent freeze for one-year leases the Rent Guidelines Board approved last year, tenants were hoping for another reprieve in the form of a rollback this year, which they didn’t get.

However, the range of possible hikes for the city’s rent-stabilized tenants approved at the preliminary vote on Tuesday evening did leave the possibility of a second rent freeze for one-year leases. After proposals from both the tenant and owner representatives, as well as one from a public member, were voted down, new board chair Kathleen Roberts’s proposal passed for a range of 0 to 2 percent increase for one-year leases and 0.5 to 3.5 percent for two-year leases. The suggested increases are the same range presented at last year’s preliminary vote, a proposal that was also presented by the chair at the time, Rachel Godsil.

The proposal passed 5 to 4 thanks to the votes from the chair and the public members, but both the tenant and owner representatives voted against the ranges.

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Tenant groups, pols rally for stronger rent laws

Mayor’s office pledges support but is short on details at Council hearing

Council Member Dan Garodnick and other city politicians called on Albany to repeal vacancy decontrol and further strengthen the laws governing rent stabilization. (Photo by William Alatriste)

Council Member Dan Garodnick and other city politicians called on Albany to repeal vacancy decontrol and further strengthen the laws governing rent stabilization. (Photo by William Alatriste)

By Sabina Mollot

With the Rent Stabilization Laws up for renewal in June, several city politicians and dozens of tenants gathered at City Hall on Monday to call on state lawmakers to strengthen the laws, most importantly by repealing vacancy decontrol.

Most of the comments were directed at Governor Cuomo, with speakers like Comptroller Scott Stringer putting the blame on Albany for “rewarding greedy speculators.”

He added that the city’s plan to build more affordable housing meant nothing if it kept hemorrhaging units at the same pace. “We’re losing affordable housing bastions like Stuyvesant Town,” he said.

The comptroller, who recently released a report saying that 400,000 apartments renting for $1,000 have disappeared from the radar, said at the podium that vacancy decontrol alone has cost the city 153,000 units of affordable housing. Currently, around 2.3 million New Yorkers live in 1.1 million rent stabilized units.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer voiced a suggestion that rent laws include a provision that every new development must include affordable housing, and, she added, “We need to get rid of MCIs (major capital improvements) that go on for 100 years.”

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