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LETTER TO PROFESSOR DAVID REISS - VOTE AGAINST INCREASING RENTS ON NEW YORK CITY TENANTS

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Over one-third of tenants in New York City spend more than half of their income on rent. Wages are stagnant, and the cost of living in New York City continues to increase. Despite this, the City’s Rent Guidelines Board (RGB), in a preliminary vote, has voted 5-4 in favor of allowing a rent increase. This increase will impact over 1 million New York City tenants, many of whom already struggle to make ends meet.

The Board’s decision to allow a rent increase comes at a time when homelessness in New York City is at record levels. Forty-three percent of those entering homeless shelters in the City have lost their rent-stabilized apartments. The Board’s vote recommended allowing a 1-3% increase for 1 year leases and 2-4% increase for 2 year leases; these increases are likely to result in the further displacement of many long-time New York City residents.

A final vote is scheduled to take place on June 27, 2017 and will apply to leases renewed between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. Professor David Reiss, of Brooklyn Law School, is a newly appointed board member. We urge Professor Reiss to vote for the lowest possible increases on June 27, and to protect the housing rights of these New Yorkers.

The Board’s vote in favor of allowing landlords to increase the rent comes just after their own report found that the average owners’ income had actually increased.* Despite landlord’s claim that another rent freeze would be overly burdensome, landlords nonetheless continue to profit, while many tenants remain at risk of displacement and homelessness.

Additionally, the Board under the Bloomberg administration, granted landlords 12-straight years of increases, voting against the interest of the tenants. While the past two years, the Board opted for a rent freeze, this decision has only begun to make up for the impact over a decade of consecutive increases had on New York City residents. Former Board member and Brooklyn Law Professor, Sabeel Rahman, previously had voted in favor of the rent freezes. The direction of the Board now appears to have shifted however, risking the housing of many rent stabilized New York City tenants. We encourage Professor Reiss to continue protecting affordable housing in New York City.

As members of Brooklyn Law School community, we are calling on Professor Reiss to vote for tenant’s rights in New York City, and for the lowest possible increases. A vote by Professor Reiss on June 27 for the lowest possible increase, could make a difference for millions of New Yorkers in rent stabilized apartments who face increasingly unaffordable rents, displacement, and even homelessness.

Please sign and share this petition to show Professor Reiss you support affordable housing in New York City, and/or reach out to him directly at (718) 780-0636.

More information here:

Steve Wishnia, RGB Recommends Rent Raise, Rejects Rollback. Metropolitan Council on Housing (May 2017) http://metcouncilonhousing.co/2017/05/26/rgb-recommends-rent-raise-rejects-rollback/

Amy Plitt. Rent-stabilized New Yorkers face increases as much as 4%. Curbed New York (Apr. 26, 2017) https://ny.curbed.com/2017/4/26/15429690/nyc-rent-stabilization-fair-housing-increase


*While landlords continue to claim financial hardship, including a 6.2 percent rise in their operating cost last year, the RGB’s Income and Expense Study found that owners’ average income increased 4.4 percent in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, while their actual expenses went up only by 1.1 percent, and their net operating income increased by almost 11 percent. Additionally, in 2014, only two owner hardship applications were filed in all of New York City, and landlords were actually approved by the state to make major capital improvements to their buildings in the amount of $112.3 million. See Steve Wishnia, RGB Recommends Rent Raise, Rejects Rollback. Metropolitan Council on Housing (May 2017) http://metcouncilonhousing.co/2017/05/26/rgb-recommends-rent-raise-rejects-rollback/

 



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