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Tenants Rally Senator Golden: Save Rent Regulated Housing by Repealing Vacancy Decontrol

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Michelle O'Brien,  Main Phone: 347-265-9307, 
(Friday, March 20, 2009)

Tenants Rally Senator Golden: Save Rent Regulated Housing by Repealing Vacancy Decontrol

Bay Ridge tenants and community organizations, in alliance with a broad citywide coalition, rallied outside the district office of Senator Martin Golden, calling on him to co-sponsor the repeal of vacancy decontrol. Thirty percent of residents of Senate District 22 depend on rent regulation to protect against excessive rent increases and baseless evictions. Vacancy decontrol puts these rent regulated units in jeopardy. Senator Golden, despite his professed support of tenant causes, has not co-sponsored S2237-A, legislation that would close this loophole.

According to the recently released 2008 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, 37,945 households in Senate District 22 live in rent-regulated apartments, 30 percent of the Senator’s constituents. The Housing and Vacancy Survey, conducted every three years by the U.S. Census Bureau, reports excessive rent burdens for the districts residents: 27 percent of all tenants in the district pay more than 50 percent of their income in rent, and 46 percent pay more than 30 percent of income in rent.

"Vacancy decontrol is pushing families out of their homes in this neighborhood and throughout Brooklyn. This is devastating for the people of Brooklyn, for our children and for our communities. In this hard economic time, it is outrageous that Senator Golden is betraying tenants in his own district. Senator Golden should do the right thing immediately and commit to repealing vacancy decontrol," said ACORN member Leroy Johnson.

Catholic Charities Community Centers, NY ACORN, Tenants & Neighbors and Neighbors Helping Neighbors led the rally, each with strong local memberships in Bay Ridge and surrounding areas. They were joined by the New York Is Our Home Campaign, a coalition convened by Housing Here and Now of over 100 labor unions, community organizations, religious congregations and housing justice groups, including the Working Families Party and Make the Road NY.

“It’s a myth that vacancy decontrol only affects Manhattan. Tenants across New York are a stone’s throw away from decontrol. Even in neighborhoods where the market can’t support rents over $2,000, landlords are looking to deregulate units to prevent tenants from having the right to renew their leases,” explained Maggie Russell-Ciardi, Executive Director of NY State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition.

At Friday’s rally, tenants asked Senator Golden to co-sponsor S2237-A, the bill to repeal vacancy decontrol. They asked his support for tenant rights and the preservation of affordable housing for Bay Ridge’s future.

“Catholic Charities serves Bay Ridge and other Brooklyn neighborhoods through its many programs,” said Nina Valmonte, Associate Director, Parish & Community Outreach and Services at Catholic Charities of Brooklyn & Queens. “Over the years, we have seen first hand how New York's affordable housing crisis has impacted the lives of our Bay Ridge neighbors. Every day, we see tenants who are unable to pay rent or meet their living expenses. We have to preserve the affordable housing we have before more people are out in the streets! We ask Senator Golden for his leadership, and take this crucial step to preserve rent regulation.”

Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D– Westchester) has introduced S2237-A to repeal vacancy decontrol and preserve rent-regulated housing. Rent regulation is New York State’s largest affordable housing program, protecting over half the tenants in New York City against baseless eviction. Repealing vacancy decontrol would preserve rent regulation for New York’s future. Republic Senator Frank Padavan (Queens) has signed on to sponsor the legislation, demonstrating a commitment to tenants rare within his party. Senator Golden has not joined his colleague, neither co-sponsoring the legislation nor publicly vowed to vote for the bill.

Make the Road NY leader Leonor Alarcon of Brooklyn called on Senator Golden, "All of New York is depending on Senator Golden! My landlord has been harassing me and my family with fake paperwork to try to drive us out, all to take the apartment out rent regulation. Senator Golden says he stands with tenants. Now he needs to prove it by signing on to repeal vacancy decontrol."

 

 

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