Plenty of rent rallies have occurred lately and for good reason. The rent stabilization laws are due to expire next month and whatever is decided will be of consequence to about 1M units.
On April 29th a rally was held outside of the Rent Guidelines Board right before they made their preliminary vote on rent increases for 2015-2016. More than 200 tenants and community advocates were present, but with a canny and inspired twist they didn’t just ask for a rent freeze — they urged for the board to actualize a rent roll-back.
Then on May 14th another rent rally descended upon Foley Square to call on Albany to save affordable Housing in New York City. The participants declared in no uncertain terms that rent is too high as it stands to be considered affordable by many residents. After making a stand at Foley Square the estimated 700 rally goers marched over the Brooklyn Bridge.
At the Foley Square rally Council Member Antonio Reynoso pointed out that the plummeting numbers of affordable housing in his district should mean a rent increase of, “Zero would be appropriate. We’re at critical mass, especially in my district.”
The state rent protection laws expire on June 15th, and although they are pretty certain to be renewed in some capacity, the question is: In what capacity will they be renewed? The past is a negative indicator. From 2002–11 there has been a loss of more than 55,000 rent-stabilized units citywide via deregulation according to city statistics. Since 1980, it is estimated that 230,000 rent controlled and stabilized apartments were lost. Those for Rent Regulation are looking to eliminate the loopholes which precipitated the loss of so much affordable housing.
On Friday, May 15th, there was another rally held to introduce a new coalition: Allied Communities Against Buy-Outs (ACABO) in Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick. This coalition was “formed to fight displacement of long-term residents in Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bushwick in Brooklyn, and Ridgewood in Queens,” as was stated in the press release from Council Member Antonio Reynoso’s office. ACABO’s members include elected officials: Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez; State Assemblymembers Maritza Davila and Joseph Lentol; State Senator Martin Dilan; Public Advocate Letitia James; City Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso, Rafael Espinal, and Stephen Levin. In addition to these Community-based organizations: Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A; Southside United HDFC – Los Sures; St. Nick’s Alliance; Bushwick Housing Independence Project; Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation; North West Bushwick Community Group; Legal Empowerment and Assistance Program; Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Citizens Council; South Brooklyn Legal Services; and Make the Road NY.