Assembly Releases Report on Housing Emergency, Plans to Push Forward With Rent-Regulation Legislation

March 14, 2011
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) has joined affordable-housing advocates in announcing the release of a report touting the critical role of rent stabilization in protecting working New Yorkers and the urgent need to extend rent-stabilization laws while closing the loopholes that cost New Yorkers thousands of affordable apartments every year.

“With New Yorkers still suffering from the economic downturn, it’s crucial we ensure that already cash-strapped tenants aren’t forced out of their homes due to skyrocketing rents,” Jacobs said. “Strengthening rent-regulation laws and putting oversight mechanisms in place to protect tenants from unfair rent hikes will help New Yorkers battle one of their greatest hardships – using a large majority of their income for rent – and will help keep these tenants in their homes.”

The report found that more than 10,000 rent-regulated apartments are lost each year because of loopholes in the rent laws, such as vacancy decontrol and major capital improvement increases. The current rent laws are set to expire on June 15, and Assemblywoman Jacobs has called for those laws to be extended and expanded.

“The vacancy decontrol laws have made it next to impossible for working families to find affordable housing,” Ms. Jacobs said. “This unfortunate loophole, evidenced in the report, has essentially opened a Pandora’s Box of unethical housing practices – it gives building owners and landlords an incentive to drive out existing tenants in rent-stabilized apartments, so they can charge an exorbitant rent to the next tenant.”

The report also found that:

  • rent-regulated housing is the largest source of housing for middle- and low-income families, with over 1 million rent-regulated households existing in the city;
  • 13,500 apartments were removed from rent protections through vacancy decontrol and other loopholes in rent laws in 2009;
  • 29 percent of low-income housing and 12 percent of middle-income housing has been lost since 2000; and
  • current law permits landlords to remove vacant apartments from rent-stabilization with little oversight or regulation.

In her role as Assembly Assistant Speaker, Ms. Jacobs has vowed to help pass legislation that would extend rent regulations and add new protections that would help reverse the significant losses of affordable housing put forth in the report.