Queens elected officials rally with tenants, homeless New Yorkers to fight for safe, stable housing

Tenants rally alongside their elected officials to advocate for a package of bills that will ensure housing security in New York. (Photo courtesy of Housing Justice for All)

Dozens of elected officials rallied alongside tenants and people experiencing homelessness for the Our Homes, Our Power legislation, a set of five bills allowing all New Yorkers to afford housing and fight exploitative landlords.

Assembly members Zohran Mamdani and Jessica Gonzalez Rojas, as well as Assembly members-elect Steven Raga and Juan Ardila, protested outside Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office in Manhattan to advocate for the legislative package alongside dozens of their colleagues.

The legislation covers eviction protections, housing access vouchers, establishing rent guidelines and social housing developments and protects tenants’ buildings from being sold without their input.

New York City is currently experiencing a housing crisis, where the supply has failed to reach demand. The vacancy rate for apartments renting between $801 and $1,499 is 0.9%, according to the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey.

A recent Douglas Elliman report found that the average rental price in November was $3,402, a 16.7% increase compared to last year’s rental price of $2,914.

And in Ridgewood, tenants were on the verge of facing illegal lockouts in two residential buildings on Onderdonk Avenue if not for Attorney General Letitia James intervening.

In June, BlueSky Management NY LLC purchased the two adjoining properties in Ridgewood — one of which is rent-stabilized — and immediately sent lease termination notices to tenants. According to the AG’s office, the company followed the notices with letters, emails and text messages, illegally threatening to lock the remaining tenants out of their apartments.

Recently elected Assembly member Raga said thousands of New Yorkers face homelessness because of greedy landlords and inadequate protections.

“This legislative session, we are going to shift power back to tenants and ensure that we address the growing inequity and exploitation within our housing system by passing the ‘Our Homes, Our Power’ package,” Raga said.

Other elected officials who support this legislative package, like state Senator Jessica Ramos, criticize the governor’s plan to solve the housing crisis, which they believe will only benefit private developers.

“The governor has indicated that she intends to roll up her sleeves and deal with the housing crisis this session. That’s welcome news. We need to make it abundantly clear, however, that any housing plan that doesn’t keep my neighbors in their homes is incomplete. Good Cause has to be the floor for negotiations,” Ramos said.

(Photo courtesy of Housing Justice for All)

In northwest Queens, Mamdani pointed out that rent has gone up 34% in the last year.

“Constituent after constituent has called my office to report regular harassment from their landlords,” Mamdani said. “And all this at a time when 1 in 10 public school students in NYC are experiencing homelessness, enough to nearly fill Yankee Stadium twice over. It is past time for us in Albany to stop sitting on our hands. This next session, we must pass Good Cause and fully fund [the] Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP) — anything less and we are simply pouring fuel on the fire that is the housing crisis.”

The rallies were supported by Housing Justice for All, a coalition of over 80 grassroots organizations representing tenants and homeless New Yorkers across the state.

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