Rent Justice Coalition, pols hail rent freeze

The Rent Justice Coalition, a group of legal services, organizing, advocacy and tenants, as well as elected officials, have hailed Monday night’s vote by the city’s Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) to freeze rents this year.

“The Rent Guidelines Board’s decision to freeze rents this year demonstrates what we can accomplish when we raise our voices and stand up for tenants’ rights,” said Pilar DeJesus of the Rent Justice Coalition, which collaborated in pushing the RGB to use data and reason to pass more equitable, pro-tenant rent adjustments.

“Tenants from all over the city voiced their concerns, and we are grateful to the Rent Guidelines Boards for listening,” DeJesus added. “But we will continue the fight to repair years of exorbitant rent increases and to protect New York City’s affordable housing.”

While the rent freeze on one-year rents last year was historic, data shows that landlords have been overcompensated by high rent increases during the Bloomberg years, the coalition said.

With the high amount of rent burden on New York’s most vulnerable tenants and serious wage stagnation, the coalition called for a rent rollback.

The coalition, along with elected officials and tenants from all over the city, rallied and made their voices heard at each of the RGB’s public hearings.

The RGB regulates rents for the more than one million rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.

“On June 29, 2015 the RGB made a historic decision to pass the proposal of a one-year rent freeze for rent-stabilized tenants, and tonight they made the decision to freeze rents again for another year,” the coalition said.

Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane D. Williams, representative for the 45th Council District, said while the RGB’s decision was not the rent rollback that many working class New Yorkers have sought and needed, tenants should still feel empowered.

“For two historic years, this Board has asked the question of ‘whether there should be an increase?’ before they asked the question of ‘how much?’” he said.

“The answer this year, at least for one type of lease, was thankfully no,” Williams added. “I want to encourage everyone to remain vigilant and continue to advocate to make New York City truly affordable for its residents.

“Fortunately, because of the leadership of groups like the Urban Justice Center, this fight will continue,” he continued.

Williams’s City Council colleague Ben Kallos said the rent freeze will extend relief to tenants throughout the city who have struggled to keep up with rising rents for years.

“The Rent Guidelines Board has shown that last ‘year’s rent freeze was more than a symbolic gesture, and tenants have the power to be heard,” he said. “We will continue to fight to make up for years of too-high rent increases.

“Thank you to the many tenants who came out to tell their stories and the Rent Justice Coalition for their advocacy,” Kallos added.

More from Around NYC