For the second consecutive year, the Rent Guidelines Board voted last night to approve a rent freeze on one-year leases for over one million tenants in rent stabilized housing. The news was bittersweet for local tenants rights advocates, who were fighting for more this year — a rent-rollback.
The board, consisting of nine members appointed by Mayor Bill DeBlasio, regulates rent for the approximately one million rent-stabilized apartments in the city. On Monday, June 27, the board voted 7-0 with two abstentions, to place a freeze on one-year leases and a 2 percent increase for two-year leases, mirroring last year’s historic rent freeze. The vote affects lease renewals signed between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017.
“While tonight’s decision by the Rent Guidelines Board was not the rent rollback that many working class New Yorkers have sought and needed, tenants should still feel empowered,” said Councilmember Jumaane D. Williams.
The vote followed a 2016 report released by the board, which shows that fuel costs fell by 41.2 percent and overall operating costs for rent stabilized buildings decreased by 1.2 percent this year. An additional Rent Guidelines Board report released in May 2016 cites Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ten-year housing initiative to increase affordable housing options for New Yorkers.
“We are turning the tide to keep this a city for everyone,” Mr. de Blasio said after the vote, adding that housing data supported the new rent freeze, reported The Wall Street Journal.
From overcrowding to the double-edged sword of major capital improvements, there are still many issues that plague Brooklyn’s subsidized housing stock. Tenant Organizer Harvey Epstein stated that 10,000 apartments were deregulated last year, leaving 20,000 people evicted — 43 percent from rent-stabilized apartments — and 100,000 in city homeless shelters, reported Gothamist.
But for many who fought for housing reform, last night’s rent freeze vote was a hard-won victory.
Housing rights activist Aga Trojniak of the Flatbush Tenant Coalition has worked with hundreds of families driven to the brink of homelessness by rent increases. “We will continue this fight and we will not be dissuaded,” Trojniak said. “Just three years ago, a rent freeze was an impossible dream. Last year and again yesterday, NYC tenants made it a reality.”