NEW YORK -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Housing Committee Chairman Vito Lopez were joined by members of the Assembly Majority, David R. Jones the President of the Community Service Society of New York, affordable housing advocates and rent-regulated tenants to release a groundbreaking new report documenting rent-stabilized housing’s critical role in protecting millions of working New Yorkers and the urgent need to extend rent-stabilization laws while closing the loopholes that are costing New York thousands of affordable apartments every year.
The report, The New Housing Emergency, revealed that more than 10,000 rent-regulated apartments are lost each year because of loopholes in the rent laws such as vacancy decontrol, individual apartment improvement and major capital improvement rent increases. The current rent laws are set to expire on June 15th. Silver, Lopez and Jones called for those laws to be extended and expanded.
"If we do not act quickly to extend our rent laws, millions of working New Yorkers could lose their homes," Speaker Silver said. "Merely continuing the current laws is not enough. We must close the loopholes identified in this report that cost our neighborhoods thousands of affordable homes each year and which threaten to turn New York into a city without a middle-class."
"I am pleased to join Speaker Silver and my Assembly colleagues to advocate for the expansion of the Rent Regulation Laws," said Assemblyman Lopez, Chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee, who has dedicated his career to preserving and creating affordable housing for New Yorkers. "As we face a dire housing crisis in New York City, it is imperative that we fight to protect the residents of New York City, maintain our affordable housing stock and prevent against massive displacement throughout the City of New York."
"Our research shows that New Yorkers continue to experience multiple hardships, with many residents using a good majority of their income for rent," said Jones, who authored the 'New Housing Emergency' report. "More than 340,000 rental properties affordable to low-income people were lost between 2000 and 2007 in the five boroughs. This is why we must renew the rent regulation laws, repeal vacancy destabilization, and curtail exorbitant rent increases on vacancy."The report finds that:
There are roughly 1,021,000 rent regulated households in New York City, representing the largest source of housing for middle and low income New Yorkers. The median income for rent regulated tenants in New York City is $38,000;
In 49 percent of rent-regulated households, the head of household is a first generation immigrant;
In 2009, landlords reported that 13,500 apartments were removed from rent protections through vacancy decontrol and other loopholes in the rent laws, but because reporting is voluntary, the actual number is likely higher;
Those losses have made it harder and harder for families to find available rent-stabilized apartments. In Manhattan below Harlem, the proportion of recent movers finding a rent-regulated apartment fell from 52 percent in 2001 to 31 percent in 2007. In Upper Manhattan, it fell from 81 to 67 percent;
Affordable housing is being lost across the region. Since 2000, the New York metro area lost 29 percent of the apartments considered affordable to low-income families, and 12 percent of those considered affordable to middle-income families; and
Current law allows landlords to permanently remove vacant apartments from rent-stabilization by simply making improvements and repairs, which occur with little oversight and regulation.
In releasing the report, Silver and members of the Assembly Majority vowed to pass legislation that would extend rent regulations and add new protections that would help reverse the significant losses of affordable housing spelled out in the report.
The Assembly has introduced a bill (A.2674-A), that would:
Repeal vacancy decontrol, saving thousands of affordable apartments every year;
Reduce allowable rent increases after a landlord makes individual apartment improvements, from 1/40th to 1/60th the cost of the improvement;
Cap the amount that can be collected for a major capital improvement to the actual cost of the improvement;
Bring certain rent-regulated units that were deregulated due to vacancy decontrol on or after Jan. 1, 2007, under the protection of rent regulation;
Cut in half the percentage increase a landlord can raise rents after a vacancy;
Increase the high income / high rent deregulation thresholds to $300,000 and $3,000 respectively; and
Permit New York City to strengthen rent protections beyond what the state allows.