|Local leaders and residents rally on the Bronx Courthouse steps last week |
for stronger rent laws (photo by Jeanmarie Evelly)
Housing advocates and many Bronx elected officials have been pushing to see the laws not only extended, but strengthened in favor of tenants. But the legislature's tentative deal, struck last night, does little to meet most of the goals these groups wanted to see addressed.
"It's a terrible deal," said Michael McKee, of the Tenants Political Action Committee, who has been camped out in Albany since last week.
Top priority for McKee and other advocates, and a majority of Bronx politicians, is the repeal of vacancy decontrol---the rule that lets landlords raise rents at regulated apartments once the tenant there vacates, if the monthly rent exceeds $2,000 and the household's yearly income is higher than $175,000.
The reported agreement does not do away with vacancy destabilization but does raise both of these thresholds, to $2,500 and $200,000, respectively.
The Real Rent Reform campaign, a coalition of the city's housing and tenant advocacy groups, released a statement last night calling the changes, even these, a "disappointment."
"The $500 increase to the Vacancy Destabilization threshold does not even come close to levels needed to account for inflation since 1993 (when Vacancy Destabilization was first created) and will have little impact on the long-term erosion of affordable housing," it reads.
Since vacancy decontrol was established in 1993, housing groups say that some 300,000 affordable apartments have been deregulated in the city and its neighboring counties, a loss that’s been coupled in recent years with the expiration of Mitchell-Lama housing and a freeze on section 8 subsidies.
While advocates say this proposed deal isn't enough, they note that this agreement would be the first time since 1993 that rent laws have been renewed without additional weakening amendments.