Housing Protestors Arrested in Albany
New York is considering rent control laws while US Senator Corey Booker introduces affordable housing plan
With days left until New York’s rent control laws expire, dozens of protestors were arrested in a planned civil disobedience outside of the State Senate and Assembly chambers as well as outside of the Governor’s office.
Protestors were demanding that the state legislature pass a package of nine bills that would reauthorize and strengthen the state’s rent regulation laws. The groups were in Albany under the banner of the Housing Justice for All campaign are hoping that the passage of these 9 bills will result in universal rent control. The bills would expand the rent control program to counties and cities outside of NYC, Westchester, Rockland, and Nassau. It would also close loopholes that landlords have used to get their units out of the rent control system, such as ending vacancy decontrol, stopping unexpected rent hikes, and eliminating bonuses that incentivize landlords to harass and evict long term tenants. In an expensive city like New York, these rent control laws are the reason that tens of thousands of low and middle-income families can afford to live in the City.
In total 61 people where arrested at the protests including New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Lawmakers have until June 15th to pass rent regulations. If they do not meet this deadline, tenants could face substantial increases in rent and eviction.
The fight in New York is just a microcosm of the larger fight for affordable housing. Across the country rents have gone up, housing prices have gone up, but wages have not kept up. Just this week, it was announced Los Angeles had seen a 16% increase in homelessness over the last year, meaning that over 60,000 people don’t have a home to go to each night.
To address this issue, Senator and Presidential candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) has unveiled a plan that would provide renters with a tax credit to ensure that they don’t spend more than 30% of their income on rent. The plan would help an estimated 57 million people including 17 million children. According to Booker’s plan, renters would receive a tax credit that would cover the difference between 30% of their income and the market rent in the neighborhood. There would also not be an income cap. The campaign claims that it would save the median family who is renting $4,800 a year. Booker is the former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, a city that has large amounts of renters, public housing, and was hard hit by the foreclosure crisis. In his campaign announcement video, Booker claimed to be the only Presidential candidate who goes home to a low-income, inner-city community.
“Access to safe, affordable housing can be transformative in the trajectory of people’s lives,” Mr. Booker said in a statement. “My parents knew this when they moved my brother and me to a New Jersey town with good public schools in the face of racial discrimination. The tenants I represented against slumlords when I first moved to Newark knew it too.”
Following the protests in New York, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins announced that she had the votes to pass all nine of the bills. However, in a surprising turn, the Assembly, which for decades has been in Democratic control and supportive of tenants rights, seems to not yet have the votes the pass all nine bills.