Testimony of Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner Submitted to the Rent Guidelines Board

Hello Chairperson Rachel D. Godsil and members of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, I am Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner and I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you this evening in my district, the 77th Assembly District. There are more than 33,000 apartments under rent regulation in my district, which is the equivalent of nearly three-quarters of my constituents. As you can see, this is a very important issue for us Bronxites

Having been a tenant my whole life, I am in support of renewing and strengthening rent regulations that expire this month. I know that the Rent Guidelines Board has proposed a rent increase up to 2 percent for one-year leases on rent-stabilized units. But, frankly board members that is unacceptable; we need a rent freeze.

Why do we need to put an end to the spiraling cost of housing that is squeezing the wallets of our families? Well, because between 2001 and 2011 – we lost 385,000 apartments that had been covered by rent regulation in New York. Any increase in rents will bump up costs for families throughout the Bronx and New York – these same families are already having trouble making ends meet and paying their monthly bills.

In fact, the median household income for Bronx families is $34,388 – nearly $24,000 less than that of New York. Coupling the fact that City’s tenants are rent-burdened, where more than half spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent, the Metropolitan Council on Housing noted that one-third of families are paying half or more of their total household income to cover their rent and utility costs.

The important task before you – making a decision that will impact or possibly curtail the affordability of housing – will undoubtedly affect tenants, our families and their children. As the voice of my district’s constituents, including struggling working families and seniors, I ask that you vote in favor of supporting our community and our families – the real backbone of New York.

Even without a rent increase, landlords are allowed to raise rent for numerous instances and situations. For instance, stabilized apartments to market-rate should a tenant leave. This is a process called vacancy deregulation. According to the Metropolitan Council on Housing, this process has led to the deregulation of 200,000 to 300,000 units.

Tonight, I urge you to freeze any rent increases for the rent-stabilized units in my district. My community deserves a breather from wayward landlords, which seek to raise their rents when opportunities – whether legal or illegal – arise. Housing costs ought to remain affordable and tenants should not have to worry about being priced out of their home.

For my community, which includes areas of Morris Heights, Mount Eden, Highbridge, Claremont and Concourse East, I ask that the Rent Guidelines Board hear their concerns when voting on June 24.

As always, I look forward to working with the Rent Guidelines Board, protecting the availability of affordable housing and ending the economic squeeze on the tenants I represent.

Thank you.