NEW YORK - The city's Rent Guidelines Board, also known as the RGB, reconvened remotely on Thursday.
It’s the first in a series of annual meetings to help determine how to adjust leases for the city’s roughly one million rent-stabilized apartments including Stuy-Town and Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, many New Yorkers are calling on members to halt discussions.
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"The word I’ve heard over and over again that it seems tone deaf & insensitive for us to move forward as a board," said Leah Goodridge, a tenant representative on the board.
During a typical season, the board considers data and testimony before eventually voting on how to adjust rent costs. While members did review research Thursday, the data presented did not take the impact of COVID-19 into account.
The board’s chair, David Reiss, says despite calls to suspend operations they legally have to meet.
"Others in government will have a much bigger role in the problems we face, but we have our small part to play and will continue to play it," Reiss said.
The only protection for tenants currently is a 90-day eviction moratorium issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Tenant advocates argue that’s not enough when people are out of work, and the mayor has supported the idea of a rent freeze for the city’s rent-stabilized apartments. But building owner advocates argue landlords face additional costs due to coronavirus, and a rent freeze will have serious unintended economic consequences.
"This could be going on next year so I think we need to be creative and figure out how to hear from the public," said J. Scott Walsh, an owner representative on the board.
The boards next meetingis scheduled for April 30.