7 thoughts on “Why We Must End Vacancy Decontrol to Save Rent-Regulated Housing

  1. An incumbent who won a majority of a neighborhood once has an advantage when running again if the same folks are voting. Politicians always talk about the “loss” of units from vacancy deregulation when they mean the loss of current constituents…other people are living in those apartments, but they may or may not vote for the incumbent. On top of that, Ms. Rosenthal’s poster senior citizen, “Mary,” is not affected by vacancy deregulation in the first place. At 83, she can’t pay the regulated rent any more. If Mary earns too much to take advantage of the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption, or if she cannot even afford her current rent, perhaps Ms. Rosenthal should focus on amending SCRIE or other subsidy programs.

  2. Vacancy deregulation affects tenants LIVING IN their apartments – even seniors whose rents are frozen by the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption – because the law motivates landlords to oust regulated tenants. The profit motive ($1000 regulated vs. $4200 deregulated, for example) is enormous. So even those who can afford the rent find themselves dragged into Housing Court on slim pretexts, or offered “buy-outs” inadequate to find them replacement housing. Vacancy deregulation also deprives future tenants of affordable homes. The City is losing a stock of affordable housing for the next generation. Preserving existing affordable apartments is a lot more economical than building new ones. Given the shortage of affordable housing, we need both new and existing affordable units. It’s a poor bargain for NYC to build 200,000 units of affordable housing as it is losing even more.

    • Your ‘stock of affordable housing’ is not some publicly controlled resource but private property owned by landlords who have no choice but to pass on their very high NYC expenses to tenants. If they can’t maintain their properties we may have a repeat of the 1960s-1970s era of housing decline and abandonment. I understand that some tenants are hurt by increaseing rents but the economics of NYC make that inevitable.

  3. Nick correctly states that the affordable housing is private property. Fortunately for its owners, those who are not getting at least an (approximately) 8% return on their investment (not a bad profit!) can ask the state housing agency for a rent increase. That requires that they open their books and provide some inconvenient paperwork – substantially less of a burden than tenants face in housing court. I (and other tenant advocates) have no problem with landlords making a decent return on investment. But landlords who aren’t can either apply for an increase or sell their buildings.
    The real questions are (1) why a landlord would buy a building using an investment plan that relies on a 20% turnover of (soon-to-be-deregulated) apartments every year – as was the case at the Riverton in Harlem a few years back, and (2) why banks agree to finance such plans. No one forces someone to become an owner of a primarily rent regulated building.
    The amount of luxury development happening right now belies the threat of our returning to the era of decline and abandonment. Developers are scrounging to build on every square foot of formerly forgotten neighborhoods.

  4. Rent affordability for low income workers is nothing new. Thirty years ago when I was first out on my own I shared a crap one bedroom apartment with a roommate. We both earned minimum wage which was $3.75 an hour then! I spent well over 30% of my income on my housing and did so for many years until I finished with college and had a degree. Now I live a comfortable middle class life, but I still spend about 26% of my income on rent. This is not a new issue or some sudden crisis, its always been this way if you choose to work at minimum wage. You have to gain the skills to improve yourself and work your way up. The current population of the United States is around 340,000.000 and the number of people these “advocates” say are paying 30% or more on housing is around 40,000.000 thats only about 12% of the total population. I would bet the percentage of people paying 30% or more on rent has always been at least 10% so this is no new massive crisis.

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