Last night Mayor Bloomberg's appointees to the Rent Guidelines Board signaled their support for further rent increases affecting half of all rental apartments in New York City -- a recipe for more homelessness.
As the New York Times and other news organizations reported, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board -- whose nine members were all appointed by Mayor Bloomberg -- voted for rent increases ranging from 2 to 4 percent for one-year leases and 4 to 6 percent for two-year leases. The increases affect around one million rent-stabilized apartments in New York City, representing half of the city's rental housing.
Echoing calls by Coalition for the Homeless and tenant organizations, the two tenant representatives on the board voted for no increase at all. As the Times reported:
Two board members supported a rent freeze, eliciting cheering from the crowd. One of those members, Adriene L. Holder, attorney in charge at the Legal Aid Society, cited increases in homelessness, unemployment and evictions, compounded by dips in inflation-adjusted wages.
Ronald S. Languedoc, a tenant lawyer and the board member who forwarded the motion proposing a rent freeze, said the recession had been "devastating" for rent-stabilized tenants. He also noted that operation costs for landlords of rent stabilized apartments had increased 3.4 percent from May 2009 to March 2010, according to data compiled by the board. "That price increase is the lowest in my time on the board," Mr. Languedoc said.
The motion to freeze rents was voted down by 7 to 2, as onlookers shouted, "Greed! Greed! Greed!"
As we noted back in January, and as the charts below illustrate, Mayor Bloomberg's Rent Guidelines Board appointees have voted for the highest rent increases since the 1980s. This is one of the major reasons New York City has suffered such dramatic losses in affordable housing over the past decade -- and one of the reasons there are now an all-time record number of homeless people in New York City.
Before the final vote on June 24th, let's hope the board members genuinely consider the impact their rent increases will have on homelessness and on struggling tenants.
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