Members of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association joined other residents and tenant organizations to call for a rent rollback outside Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side last Wednesday night. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Met Council on Housing and other tenant advocacy groups rallied for a rent rollback outside Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side last Wednesday evening. Members of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association marched with residents from the 86th Street/Second Avenue Q station and joined the protest in front of the mayor’s residence, with tenant organizers leading chants while Mayor Bill de Blasio was reportedly enjoying a showing of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Broadway that evening.
Some protesters at the rally performed educational skits outlining the importance of attending the hearings for the Rent Guidelines Board where increases for rent-stabilized apartments are voted on and encouraged tenants to push for a rent rollback this year. Since de Blasio was elected in 2013, the RGB has approved a rent freeze on one-year leases for rent-stabilized tenants but last year approved increases of 1.5% for one-year leases and 2.5% for two-year leases. The last time that a rent freeze was approved in 2016.
Tenants wave signs while calling for a rent freeze or rollback. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Rent Guidelines Board shot down the possibility of a rent freeze or rollback during the preliminary vote in a lively meeting at Cooper Union’s Great Hall on Tuesday, approving a range of 0.5 to 2.75 percent for one-year leases and 1.5 to 3.75 percent for two-year leases.
Tenant representatives Sheila Garcia and Leah Goodridge had proposed a possible rent rollback for tenants signing one-year leases, with a range of -0.5 to 0 percent, and the possibility of a freeze for residents signing two-year leases, suggesting a range of 0 to 1 percent, but the motion didn’t pass.
Tenant reps for the RGB have proposed rollbacks and freezes in previous years, although last year Garcia said that the data didn’t necessarily merit a rollback, so she and Goodridge had proposed a freeze during the preliminary vote. But this year, she said that a rollback made more sense.
“We saw the impact of the rent freeze (in the data we looked at this year),” Garcia said following the vote, referring to the freeze on one-year leases that the board had approved in 2016, noting that the board bases their analysis on data that is at least one year old and in some cases, even older. “There was an increase in Net Operating Income (in that year for landlords), most tenants are signing two-year leases and there are all these other sources of income.”
The final vote of the Rent Guidelines Board has been postponed by five days due to the failure of Albany officials to renew rent regulations last week.
The vote, originally scheduled for June 24, will now take place today at the Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 East 7th Street and Third Avenue, at 6 p.m.
A spokesperson for the RGB explained that the decision was directly tied with Albany’s ongoing negotiations. In the meantime, said the spokesperson, the board has concluded its process of conducting four public hearings.
“They were crowded, well attended,” he said, with over 200 tenant speakers, 50 owners and a handful of elected officials.
The announcement about the postponement was made last weekend, and the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association sent an email blast to alert neighbors.
In April, the board made a preliminary vote of increases ranging from 0-2 percent for one-year leases and 0.5-3.5 percent for two-year leases.
Stuyvesant Town residents sit in the audience at the hearing. On the right is Marietta Hawkes, a 38-year resident who gave testimony. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
With the Rent Guidelines Board set to decide on the rent increases for over one million rent stabilized apartments in the city on June 24, tenants from around the city went before the board on Monday, June 8 to ask for a rent freeze or even a rollback. Numerous landlords, mainly those owning small buildings, also testified to ask for higher rents and even supplemental increases for tenants who remain in their buildings for many years. A few City Council members also chimed in to say their constituents are being priced out of their neighborhoods and in some cases harassed by landlords who want to oust them and deregulate their apartments.
The public hearing, held at CUNY’s Graduate Center on 34th Street was one of four taking place around the city. The next and final one before the vote will take place on June 18 from 5-8 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
One of the first speakers was a senior from Stuyvesant Town named Marietta Hawkes, who, after 38 years of living in the complex, is paying 45 percent of her income in rent, including three major capital improvement (MCI) increases.
“Due to these increases, I have had to cut back on food and doctor visits,” said Hawkes. She added that other actions by owner CWCapital have had taken a toll on her heath.