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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Housing regulation is an immigrant issue, advocates say

His landlord recently gut-renovated apartments on the second floor, installing stainless steel appliances.

But Brooklyn carpenter Israel Barrionuevo’s rent-stabilized home has bugs, leaky sinks and a moldy bathroom ceiling.

“The conditions are really ugly, but we don’t have anywhere to go,” said Barrionuevo, 55, who has five kids.

He believes repairs are being neglected so that his family, paying $1,420 a month for a two-bedroom on the first floor, will leave the building on Greene Ave. in Bushwick.

A renovated apartment on the second floor of his building was listed for $2,000 in February.

“They want us to leave the apartment,” he said.

Barrionuevo’s landlord did not return a request for comment.

As Albany takes up housing legislation that’s set to expire, Barrionuevo and other immigrant members of the advocacy group Make the Road New York are coming forward to cast strengthening rent laws as an immigrant issue.

The group will release a report on the issue this week and plans a march over the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday, calling for reforms and an end to rules allowing landlords of rent-regulated buildings to bump rent up more than 20% once a tenant leaves.

Landlord groups, including the Rent Stabilization Association, say rules allowing them to raise rents are vital to help pay for repairs and maintenance.

Immigrants are more likely than native-born New Yorkers to live in rent-regulated housing, according to the report.

“This is the only vehicle that they have to be able to stay in the city and keep it relatively affordable,” said Make the Road co-executive director Javier Valdes.

“The experience of our members is that you get two paychecks a month — one goes straight to rent,” he said. “It’s really something that is affecting the immigrant community deeply.”

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