A proposal being considered by the city’s Rent Guidelines Board could raise rents on rent-regulated apartments as much as 9% if approved.
The plan presented to the nine-member board of mayoral appointees at a meeting Thursday would raise rents 2.7% to 4.5% for one-year leases and 4.3% to 9% for two-year leases. Apartments impacted by these hikes make up more than 40% of the city’s rental units.
Tenant advocates and progressive lawmakers responded to the proposal with outrage, calling for a complete rent freeze or modest increases, as was the case in recent years under the de Blasio administration.
City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers in a NY1 interview Saturday discussed the possible increase and the policies he believes would help alleviate the city’s housing crisis.
“People are insulted that they’re getting such a potential high rent increase,” Powers said. “We were in a global pandemic, the rent is already too high, and for my constituents and for most New Yorkers, they’re insulted that this would be even a potentially a 9% or 5% or 7% increase at a time when it’s already so difficult.”
Powers is not against any increases, but he believes the rent hikes as proposed and the ones desired by landlords would put New Yorkers on the street.
The Community Housing Improvement Program, an association of 4,000 landlords of rent-stabilized properties in the city, were also dissatisfied with the proposed hikes, saying they were based on a lower level of inflation than what owners are actually dealing with.
“The commensurate increases proposed by the RGB are flawed and do not reflect the current needs of rent-stabilized housing providers,” CHIP executive director Jay Martin said in a statement. “We need to have an honest conversation about the costs of providing housing, which includes an honest conversation about inflation.”
Powers says the increases would already be “over the top,” but to go any higher would cause thousands of New Yorkers to be evicted.
“When you talk about 15 or 20% increases or whatever they’re asking for, you’re talking about people just absolutely losing their homes. So that’s untenable in this city,” Powers said.
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams also spoke out against the plan being considered by the board.
“With the eviction moratorium and other protections expired, it is unconscionable to propose a rent increase of up to 9 percent for renters, which would only exacerbate the housing and homelessness crises confronting our city,” Adams said in a joint statement with Councilwoman Pierna Sanchez.
The Rent Guidelines Board is comprised of nine members, all mayoral appointees. Two are tenant representatives, two are owner representatives, and the other five are appointed on behalf of the general public.
On the same day the board was presented with the proposal by their staff, Mayor Eric Adams appointed a housing attorney from the Legal Aid Society to be a tenant representative on the board. In a statement announcing the appointment, Adams said he was “confident that all of my appointees will faithfully evaluate the data they are presented and make an informed decision about how best to protect the city’s affordable housing.”
During his campaign last year, Adams said he would not support a rent freeze — which the board adopted three times for one-year leases under de Blasio — without mortgage help for small landlords, according to the newsletter Political Currents.
Powers said keeping rent increases low is just a piece of a broader policy effort to make city housing more accessible and affordable.
“Starting point is we just have to build more affordable housing in the city period. We also have to make sure New Yorkers can get into it and stay there,” Powers said. “We have to make sure there’s access to housing. Expedite the process for New Yorkers who are unhoused to get housing. We have to increase the supply of affordable housing. There’s a lot we have to do.”
The board must make a final decision by July 1.