The most common expression we hear among our people these days is: “Living in New York has become a luxury.” And rightly so, because records show that, between 2000 and 2012, households that spend more than 30% of their gross income on rent have increased from 40.5% to 50.6% of the total.
This is why it is crucial that the State Legislature side with the tenants when the rent stabilization laws will expire next month. The changes in the law should preserve the existing almost half a million rent-stabilized apartments, create affordable housing in new constructions and eliminate tax benefits for an industry that only needs them to create affordable housing.
Since 2011, 35,000 rent-stabilized units have lost their status due to archaic, weak laws that affect low-income tenants.
At least 2.5 million New Yorkers with a median household income of $36,600 currently benefit from those rents. Those tenants’ clamor has been heard loud and clear in different neighborhoods.
The battle to strengthen rent stabilization laws has several fronts. A point that requires urgent attention is the need to establish new rules of the game for housing developers, in order to expand and guarantee a sizable number of affordable housing. It defies logic that we keep providing tax relief to those companies while they are not required to offer decent housing for low-income tenants.
We also cannot allow abusive landlords to punish tenants by passing them the repairs bills they are required to pay, and, even worse, harassing them to leave those apartments with the sole purpose of increasing the rent by 20%. This has to stop. New York has to be a city for everyone, not only the rich.
There are some rent laws reform proposals on the table. We need legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo to tip the balance to better protect tenants. Let’s not force our working class to leave New York.