Much to the dismay of many New Yorkers renting out their homes, the city Rent Review Board voted to increase rents across the city, ignoring month-long pleas to freeze or decrease rents for low-income families.
Despite the public outcry of tenants across the city—including Queens tenants at last month’s RGB meeting in Jamaica—the board voted 7-2 against roll-back rents, instead opting for increases of 1.25 percent for one-year leases and 2 percent for two-year leases.
According to the Rent Justice Coalition, which advocates for affordable rent for middle and lower class New Yorkers, data shows that landlords have been overcompensated for decades with high rent increases, including an 8.5 percent increase at the height of the recession in 2009. The RJC also noted that more than 30 percent of New Yorkers are paying 50 percent or more of their income for rent.
“We are low income families and landlords are the only ones who benefit from rents going up,” said Queens resident Gloria Moreno. “We understand that landlords need to maintain the buildings and make a profit. But their profits continue to increase—meanwhile, tenants can’t keep up with increasing rents and other expenses. If landlords treated us fairly, it would be a different story. But not only do they keep making profits, they keep squeezing our pockets by charging us for repairs, appliances fees, increases for major capital improvements and individual apartment improvements and through other loopholes.”
Others claimed that the increase is representative of a city that is out of touch.
“The Rent Guidelines Board’s decision just doesn’t add up,” said Harvey Epstein, a Rent Guidelines Board member and director of the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center. “New York rents are out of reach for too many families. Instead of giving tenants a break, we made it harder for them to keep their homes.”
Elected officials were not happy with the decision.
“I am disappointed that the Rent Guidelines Board voted this week to increase rents for nearly 1.6 million rent-stabilized tenants and [I] reaffirm my commitment to keep New Yorkers in their homes,” Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) said.
Data gathered by the New York University Furman Center in 2014 reported that Queens is home to approximately 194,536 rent-stabilized or controlled units. The rent increases are set to take effect on Oct. 1.
– Trone Dowd