On the 2019 Housing Agenda: Rent Regs, Rezonings … and Real Affordability?

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From left to right, Tenants and Neighbors' Glover, ANHD's Goldstein, City Limits' Murphy and Gotham Gazette's Max on the set at Manhattan Neighborhood Network.

A statewide election has come and gone putting a Democrat in the governor’s mansion. A major battle over rent regulations looms. Tenant advocates are pushing for changes to make those stronger. Property owners have donated big bucks to candidates hoping to push the other way.

Such was the situation in late 2010. And at the end of 2014. And it exists again today.

In both those earlier cases, New York’s rent laws were tweaked rather than transformed, reversing little of the impact of the changes made during the 1990s that led to the deregulation of tens of thousands of units.

Tenant advocates are hoping this year will be different, and with Governor Cuomo–the same governor in place for the rent-law renewals in 2011 and 2015–having signed on to bold reforms and Democrats with a strong majority in the State Senate, Tenants and Neighbors executive director Delsenia Glover told a special video edition of Max & Murphy this week that she is confident change will come. The question is how much will be achieved.

Landlords, of course, say rent regulations unfairly dump the burden of keeping New York affordable on their sector–and do so in a poorly targeted way, since rent regulations do not take into account tenant income, making some of the regulated apartments far from affordable for all but fairly comfortable families.

But Emily Goldstein of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development told Ben Max and this reporter that the stabilization system still plays a huge role in the city’s affordable housing mix.

It is, however, just part of the mixture. Another key element is the mayor’s Housing New York affordability plan, which Goldstein says has its own targeting problems: namely that it reserves too many units for upper-income families, making the plan as much a force for gentrification as a bulwark against it.

Watch our talk (part of our ongoing Agenda 2019 series) below:

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