It's rare these days that New York City tenants get good news, but here's a momentary ray of hope.
Marvin Markus, Mayor Bloomberg's hand-picked chair of the NYC Rent Guidelines Board -- who has overseen the highest rent increases for tenants since the 1980s -- has resigned.
As the New York Daily News and the New York Observer reported yesterday, Markus recently submitted his resignation after eight years chairing the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB), which annually votes on rent increases affecting roughly 2.5 million NYC tenants living in more than 1 million rent-regulated apartments -- that is, half of all rental apartments in New York City.
Mayor Bloomberg appoints all nine members of the RGB, but the chair has by far the most power on the board. And Markus -- who earned the well-deserved nickname "Marvin Mark-up" during his first term as RGB chair under Mayor Koch -- has used that power aggressively to push for historically-high rent increases and, in particular, special rent hikes on low-rent apartments with primarily poor and elderly tenants.
As the charts below illustrate, during Mayor Bloomberg's first two terms (and especially his second term), the RGB has authorized the highest rent increases since the 1980s. This is one of the main reasons why, as the New York Times and others have noted, New York City has suffered an extraordinary loss of affordable housing in recent years.
Given this miserable track record and the brutal impact of the economic recession on New Yorkers, Mayor Bloomberg should appoint a new RGB chair who will push for a rent freeze this year for rent-regulated apartments.
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