Tenant Groups Detest Rent Law Deal, Unions Praise 421-a Move

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Some of the dramatis personae in the housing policy debate: Gov. Cuomo. Speaker Heastie, Mayor de Blasio, Senate Minority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Senate Majority Leader Flanagan

Demetrius Freeman and the Office of the Governor

Some of the dramatis personae in the housing policy debate: Gov. Cuomo. Speaker Heastie, Mayor de Blasio, Senate Minority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Senate Majority Leader Flanagan

A week after they were supposed to wrap up business for the year, the governor and state legislature moved Tuesday to modestly tweak rent regulations and set up new, close deadlines for 421-a and mayoral control.

According to Capital New York, the deal among the “three men in a room”–Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan–has yet to be vetted by Heastie’s Assembly Democrats or Flanagan’s Senate Republicans.

Word is it includes a year-long extension of mayoral control of the city’s schools for Mayor de Blasio, a defeat for the mayor. It sets up a six-month process for developers and unions to come up with a way to make prevailing wages part of the 421-a tax exemption. And it extends rent regulations four years, increasing the threshold at which apartments exit the program because of high rent and tweaking the major capital improvements program.

Details were fuzzy but reaction was swift.

Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York president Gary LaBarbera hailed the three men’s leadership: “This is a victory for working families and shows that when we come together to address income inequality, we can make a profound difference. We look forward to a positive and constructive dialogue with New York’s real estate industry in the weeks and months ahead.”

But Tenants and Neighbors executive director Katie Goldstein depicted the deal as devastating to tenants.”Our worst fears about Governor Cuomo have been confirmed. He took no action at all to strengthen the rent laws. Cuomo made empty promises and lied repeatedly while helping the Senate Republicans advance a bill that is a massive giveaway to landlords,” she said in a statement. “Up to 100,000 rent-regulated apartments will be lost over the next four years because of Cuomo’s Republican deal.”

“Cuomo will suffer big political consequences for his betrayal of tenants and Democrats and for solidifying his status as a Republican Governor,” she added.

City Council housing committee chairman Jumaane Williams also took a hard line against the governor. “For months I have joined tenants to rally, march, yell, scream, protest, picket and even get arrested to send a clear message to Governor Cuomo: If you don’t strengthen our rent laws, you will be to blame. That blame still rests on his shoulders.”

City Limits coverage of public housing and New York’s rental affordability crisis is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation.

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  • SAM

    His father would be ashamed.

  • They should just go with flat out vacancy decontrol. This agreement will ensure that larger apartments go free market on turnover, but that smaller apartments either get the gold treatment to get above the threshold, or get combined into larger apartments.

    We’re pleased that there’s a real opportunity to drain the 421-a swamp, but would have loved to see means testing on r/s apartments.

  • Louis E.

    Rent regulation needs to be phased out…looks like another stumbling baby step.

  • Jackson Strong

    adding prevailing wage requirements to 421-a only means that only luxury housing will be feasible to construct. Rents in the outer boroughs barely support a tiny amount of new construction as it is. Add prevailing wage, and now you’re going to have zero new growth in housing stock. Its going to push up rents. Nice job, gov.

    • native new yorker

      So much for deBlasio’s ‘affordable’ housing. It’s a taxpayer-subsidized scam anyway.