Dozens of elected officials gathered at City Hall yesterday to brave the cold in support of passing various sweeping housing reforms when the Legislature convenes next year in Albany.
Flanked by advocates from the Housing Justice for All campaign, tenants, and other stakeholders, Queens lawmakers promised to make tenant protections and affordable housing a key issue going into next year’s session.
State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Woodhaven), a leading lawmaker in housing reform, pledged to make the state affordable to all residents.
“Too many tenants are priced out of their homes because of laws that put a landlord’s bottom line before the well-being of tenants. All New Yorkers deserve high quality, affordable homes and I look forward to supporting an agenda that deals with the crisis affecting tenants,” said Gianaris.
At the rally, state lawmakers vowed that in the upcoming session, they would close key renting loopholes that include preferential rent and major capital improvements, which saddle tenants with sudden and permanent rent increases; individual apartment increases and the vacancy bonus, which encourages tenant harassment; and vacancy decontrol, which has led to the loss of over a hundred thousand rent regulated apartments in the last 10 years.
State legislators are also working to pass good cause eviction, which would protect millions of tenants across the state who currently lack any basic tenant protections. Additionally, legislators have called for the expansion of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) to cover the entire state.
ETPA currently provides for rent stabilization Nassau, Rockland and Westchester predicated on housing emergencies.
Assembly member Brian Barnwell (D-Fresh Meadows, Jamaica Hills, Briarwood) echoed these promises, committing himself to ending the housing crisis.
“We have a life threatening housing crisis in New York City, that is our moral duty to immediately solve. I stand with tenants, community leaders, and colleagues in government, in pledging to fight to close ALL rent loopholes that continue to push people out of their homes. We need to expand these protections throughout the state, especially just-cause evictions to make sure all tenants possess most basic tenant protections. The time for half measures are over,” said Barnwell.
State Senator-elect Jessica Ramos (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside), noted the need to make sure immigrants are also included in affordable housing policy changes across the state.
“I am the daughter of Colombian immigrants, who worked their entire lives and because they had blue collar jobs, that took them three paychecks to pay the rent every month, we have never been able to own a home. This is the reality for too many people in our City. We need a local economy that can work for us and it starts by making sure we can stay in our neighborhoods,” said Ramos.
The passage of the legislative package is expected to be a litmus test come January as Democrats, who now control all the branches of state government, will be highly watched for unanimous voting numbers.