ST-PCV Tenants Association members Wendy Byrne, Anne Greenberg, Al Doyle and Jimmy Walker at a pre-vote rally (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
At a typically raucous meeting attended by around 125 tenants, the Rent Guidelines Board made a preliminary vote for a rent increase that ranged from 1-3 percent for tenants signing a one-year lease and 2-4 percent for those signing a two-year lease. The motion for those amounts was made by the board chair Kathleen Roberts who got a 5:4 majority. Both the board’s tenant and owner members opposed it.
Landlord member Mary Serafy had called for a 4 percent increase for one-year leases and 6 percent for two-year leases. Tenant member Sheila Garcia had requested rollbacks for tenants in buildings where owners had raised rent through other means like major capital improvements or individual apartment improvements over the last three years while suggesting ranges of zero to two percent for tenants in other buildings. Like the landlords’ proposal, however, the motion was shot down 7:2.
Serafy had made the argument that market rate tenants, along with landlords, would suffer if there was a third rent freeze, with landlords trying to make up the lost income. She also pointed out that operating costs were up 6.2 percent.
Interpreting what the RSA says
This group uses as their tag line: “We house New York.” And you have probably seen their ads on local TV stations in the area. They want Albany to end rent stabilization. They give as reasons: it would help New Yorkers; would allow for all sorts of upgrading of the housing stock; and in many ways be benevolent to the residents… Really?
I have asked my students what profession engages primarily in lying. The most frequent response has been “advertising.” And, I fully agree. Have you seen “Mad Men?”
Even though it was reported that increases in the costs of the real estate industry increased only one half of one percent during the recent year they want for all apartments to go free market. For Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents $2,000 rentals could go to over $5,000.
To rewrite the ad with honesty, they would have to say: “We along with lawyers, no matter how wealthy, will always want more and more!” We want 150 percent more in increases from you!
How many could afford anything close to $5K?
So, as they pay their lobbyists monies to give to the many crooked representatives in the bicameral legislatures perks and cash to gain their votes, who wins? Not the voters but the real estate folks who pay dues to be members of the RSA who claim that, “They house New York.”
Be sure and attend the next Tenants Association meeting and let your voices be heard.
David Chowes, PCV