“It is crucial that Gov. Hochul sign all three bills as soon as possible. The longer the governor delays, the more units will be taken out of New York’s rent stabilization system—and the less affordable New York will become.”
I’ve lived in my rent stabilized apartment for over 50 years—and I’ve watched my building change. Once, my building was filled with working families who’d immigrated from around the world, building a community together. Kids grew up side by side, knowing they’d always have a friend just a couple doors away. Seniors in the building knew they would always have a home where they could age in place peacefully.
But everything has changed. My building once had 22 rent stabilized apartments. Now, there’s only six affordable units left. My landlord used the “Frankensteining” loophole to jack up rents in my building, combining rent stabilized units to deregulate them. As a result, our tight knit community has been hollowed out, replaced with a revolving door of tenants cycling through the building while our landlord raises rents higher and higher.
New York is rapidly losing affordable housing. According to a Harvard University analysis, our state has lost more than half a million affordable rental units between 2011 and 2022 because landlords keep raising our rents. And tenants are struggling to keep up. Many have been forced to take on second or third jobs, move out of their buildings, or leave their neighborhoods altogether.
In 2019, tenants came together to stop the mass deregulation of buildings like mine with the landmark Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA). Since then, we’ve preserved thousands of rent stabilized units, but landlords have found ways to jack up the rent using a few remaining loopholes. It’s time for New York to preserve the affordable housing we still have by protecting and expanding our rent stabilization system.
Last session, our state legislature passed three bills to help New Yorkers afford housing costs, building on the HSTPA. Now, it’s time for Gov. Kathy Hochul to address the housing crisis by signing these bills into law:
- Bill S2980/A6216, which would close the “Frankensteining” loophole;
- Bill S2943/A4047, which would empower tenants to address rent overcharge fraud that occurred before the 2019 law; and
- Bill S1684A/A6843, which would provide guidance for rental vacancy studies, helping upstate municipalities to opt into rent stabilization.
These bills won’t just address rising rents—they’ll also ensure that tenants can live in safety and peace. Since my landlord started Frankensteining apartments in my building, the construction has made my apartment uninhabitable. I’ve dealt with debris pouring down my walls, mountains of toxic dust, constant noise, and no power in my bathroom for months. Other tenants living in Frankensteined buildings have faced massive water leaks and flooding, damaging their clothes, their food, and their paperwork. Some have even developed serious health issues as a result.
ANOTHER VIEW: Opinion—We Can’t Regulate Our Way Out of a Housing Crisis
It is crucial that Gov. Hochul sign all three bills as soon as possible. The longer the governor delays, the more units will be taken out of New York’s rent stabilization system—and the less affordable New York will become. A report from the Fiscal Policy Institute found that housing costs are the top reason that New Yorkers leave our state.
Last legislative session, Albany leaders were unable to reach a deal to address the housing crisis. But now Gov. Hochul has an opportunity to take decisive action and make housing more affordable—by protecting the 2 million New Yorkers living under rent-regulation, allowing tenants to investigate rent overcharges, and giving upstate communities the chance to preserve their affordable housing with rent stabilization.
Georgina Christ is a member of the Tenants Taking Control Coalition, a group of 15 tenant associations under the same landlord. Tenants Taking Control is a member of the Coalition to End Warehousing.