Susan Steinberg, 75, lives with her two adorable cats. She used to pay $350 a month for her one-bedroom in Stuytown. That was in 1980. Today she’s paying $1,500 and her rent is about to go up another 5%.She said, “I’m grumpy and every single day, I have to think about now when to go to the grocery store. I can’t buy everything I want.”
Steinberg was one of hundreds of renters at the Cooper Union’s Rental Guidance Board meeting Tuesday night. They cheered, protested, and even turned their backs on the board. They tried to get rid of rising rents but couldn’t stop the vote.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the board’s decision would be a “burden for tenants” at a difficult time, while also acknowledging that small landlords are at risk of bankruptcy due to years of no increases at all.
“This system is broken, and we cannot push landlords against tenants as winners and losers every year,” Adams said in a statement following the board vote.
There was swift opposition to the vote from organizations such as the New Settlement and The Legal Aid Society, the latter of which called the vote “shameful”.
“Tonight’s shameful vote, which would have likely been pre-scheduled, to increase rents on our most vulnerable neighbors is an unreasonable vote, and many families will suffer as a result,” said Adrian Holder, chair of civil practice at the Legal Aid Society.
Before the vote, City Council President Adrian Adams urged the council to vote on the minimum proposed rent increase.
“Allowing significant rent increases at this time would put at risk the many New Yorkers who cannot afford to pay these proposed rent increases,” Adams said in a statement to the board of directors. “We cannot afford to push hundreds of thousands of rent-regulated New Yorkers into a housing market chaos that does not already have enough supply to meet demand, particularly when our city is in the midst of showing remarkable resilience in its recovery efforts.”
The board chair, like Mayor Adams, also acknowledged that the board’s decision must take into account the interests of homeowners and landlords.
There are 25,000 landlords responsible for 1 million rental regulated apartments in New York City. Landlords had been hoping for an even bigger increase, especially given rising fuel bills, 0% increases during the pandemic, and aging buildings in general.
“We believe the data justify even higher increases,” said Vito Signorelli. But this is a step in the right direction.”
An initial vote last month set the range at 2 to 4% increases for one-year leases, and 4 to 6% for increases for two-year leases.
The motion passed by five to four, with no abstentions.
Tuesday’s vote comes after two years of freezing rents or keeping increases unusually low due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with eight years of mostly modest increases during de Blasio’s administration.
The new highs go into effect in October. This is one of the biggest jumps in decades.
Even with higher rents, a flat rented flat is generally more cost-effective.
That’s because market prices are rising in New York City. One-bedroom apartments are up 12% year over year in the Bronx, and nearly 20% in Queens and Brooklyn. Prices go up in Manhattan.
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