Bushwick Rally For Greater Regulations
Fearing that working class residents will soon be priced out of the neighborhood, scores of tenants and elected officials took to Bushwick streets last Wednesday, Oct. 15, calling on state lawmakers to expand and strengthen rent stabilization laws.
Make the Road New York and the Alliance for Tenant Power organized the rally, which urged the Assembly, State Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to repeal “vacancy decontrol,” which allows landlords to increase rents once tenants protected under rent stabilization laws move out.
Among those who participated were Assemblywoman Maritza Davila and City Council Member Rafael Espinal. Representatives of City Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Public Advocate Letitia James and Rep. Nydia Velázquez were also present.
According to Make the Road New York, Bushwick-regarded as one of the trendiest real estate markets in the city-lost 11 percent of its rent-stabilized units over the last decade, and the median rent climbed by more than $230 in the past six year.
Seeing the spike in rents, many Bushwick landlords are allegedly going to great lengths to vacate rent-stabilized apartments so they can lease them at market rates, the rally’s organizers indicated. Through vacancy decontrol, the landlord could then increase the rent to as much as $2,500 per month.
They pointed to an apartment house at 1498 DeKalb Ave. as one example, noting that just two families protected under rentstabilized apartments remain-and the property owner, using a variety of tactics, is pressuring them to leave.
“In the past, rent in my neighborhood was below a thousand dollars for an apartment, and there were many immigrant families living here,” said one of the tenants, Maria Najera. “Now rents have gone up and we have seen that the neighborhood is changing. Families and working people are leaving because they can no longer pay the rent.”
“This is our neighborhood and we cannot allow them to kick us out. We will stay here and we will fight,” Davila was quoted in El Diario as stating during the rally.
Along with repealing vacancy decontrol, lawmakers and rally participants also urged state lawmakers to extend and strengthen existing rent laws, which will expire next June. They claim it is essential to fulfilling the objectives of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing plan, which would preserve 120,000 affordable apartments for working and middle class families.
“Over the years, we’ve seen the rent in Bushwick increase to a point where it’s forcing longtime residents to move out of the very communities they built,” Espinal said. “It is important that we unite behind the principle that everyone should have access to housing that is safe and affordable.”
“The mayor’s housing plan calls for both building and preserving affordable units,” added Reynoso. “In Bushwick, only about 17 percent of residents can qualify for new 80/20 affordable housing. In order to make sure that the longterm community can stay here, we need to focus on preserving rent regulated units. We need stronger rent laws from Albany to help do this.”