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Know Your Rights
Source: Crain's New York Business
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Tenant advocates ready for rent-reg showdown

Tenant advocates suffered a setback when Republicans won outright control of the state Senate in this month’s elections. But as rent laws near their June 2015 expiration date, the advocates still claim to be better positioned than in 2011, when the laws were last due to expire and Republicans likewise ruled the upper chamber.

One major change is that Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has made affordable housing a top priority, is much more closely aligned with tenant advocates than was his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.

Another is that the Assembly Housing Committee is now chaired by Manhattan’s Keith Wright. Some tenant advocates had a frosty relationship with prior chairman Vito Lopez, who resigned from the Assembly in 2013.

“Keith Wright is a real leader on this issue—he’s been a real leader for years,” said Judith Goldiner of the Legal Aid Society. “Most of the time we felt [Lopez] was working against us.”

Alliance for Tenant Power, which consists of New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York and other tenant allies, plans to hold a large rally Tuesday morning at City Hall to kick off a large-scale campaign calling for stronger rent laws. With many units on the threshold of deregulation, “there’s a real sense of urgency among advocates and tenants,” said Delsenia Glover, campaign manager of Alliance for Tenant Power.

“We must put an end to the crusade against rent-regulated housing. Rent regulation is not about punishing property owners. It is about doing the right thing so New Yorkers can stay in their homes,” said Mr. Wright in a statement. “As chair of the Housing Committee in the State Assembly, I commit my full support to helping the Alliance for Tenant Power win this fight for tenants across the city of New York.”

The 421-a property-tax exemption beloved by developers also expires in June. The real estate industry engaged in heavy outside spending to help Republicans in this year’s elections, and Republicans will likely be sensitive to its concerns.

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