Advocates call for rent rollback at RGB forum

Rent Guidelines Board Tenant Representatives Sheila Garcia (center) and Harvey Epstein (left) with others at rally in front of 1 Centre Street prior to the RGB’s first meeting of the year (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Rent Guidelines Board Tenant Representatives Sheila Garcia (center) and Harvey Epstein (left) with others at rally in front of 1 Centre Street prior to the RGB’s first meeting of the year (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Ahead of the Rent Guidelines Board’s first meeting of the year, tenant advocates called for a rent rollback at a forum hosted by Council Member Corey Johnson at PS 3 in Greenwich Village last Wednesday evening attended by about 100 area residents, most of whom were rent stabilized tenants.

Attorney Tim Collins, who also represents the ST-PCV Tenants Association, is the former executive director of the RGB from 1987 to 1993 and he argued that putting a stop to increases for rent stabilized tenants is long overdue.

“Last year I didn’t ask for a rent freeze; I pushed for a rollback then,” Collins said. “The numbers are clear. The board has clear data on where operating costs have gone. We know that operating costs have gone up faster than inflation at 144 percent but landlords have been given 177 percent in increases since 1990. The RGB has overcompensated owners.”

Johnson, who represents Manhattan’s District 3, periodically hosts “Let’s Talk” events for community residents to inform New Yorkers about issues important to them. He won’t be hosting any other events on the RGB this year, but he said that this event was scheduled specifically to be on the night before the board’s first meeting of the year.

“It’s important that New Yorkers understand what is going on and the massive reforms that need to happen,” he said. “And we want to make sure that the RGB is treating tenants fairly.”

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