Courtesy MRNY
Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz urges more tenant protection for her constituents in Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

A new report finds shows that rent laws are not on the side of the working poor and immigrants and that 2 million immigrants still lack any tenant protections statewide, despite 47 percent of rent-regulated apartments in New York City are currently occupied by immigrant-headed households.

Jackson Heights-based Make the Road New York released “Protecting Immigrant Homes” Wednesday, research that reveals the depths of the affordable housing crisis faced by immigrant New Yorkers.

Berónica Cedeño, a Make the Road New York member and Queens renter who is at risk of displacement from her rent-stabilized apartment, said, “I have been living in this building for decades and it frustrates us that they are trying to use this loophole to push us out. Where are families like mine supposed to go when we cannot afford the supposedly affordable housing available in our city?”

The report demonstrates that immigrant New Yorkers struggle to access, and hold onto, affordable housing across the state and more than 2 million immigrants have no basic tenant protections and are more likely to face rent burdens and overcrowding. As data and testimony in the report reveal, this pattern holds not just in New York City, but in the downstate suburbs.

“The rent laws being introduced in the state Legislature are imperative in order to protect the rights of our most valuable tenants, including immigrants,” Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz said. “We are seeking to extend the most basic protections for tenants across New York state, so that we can strengthen our communities and improve access to education, financial stability and healthy living.”

Cruz added that her constituents in Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights face enormous challenges when it comes to the affordable housing crisis.

“Our constituents face skyrocketing rents, harassment from their landlords, and forced displacement,” she said. “Half of our state’s 8 million renters pay more in rent than they can afford, and 5.5 million renters don’t have any protections at all. Homelessness in our state continues to increase rapidly, and at least 100 tenants are evicted from their homes each day. Housing rights are human rights, and we must protect those rights for tenants across the state.”

The report concludes with clear policy recommendations. First the state must expand renters’ rights by passing “good cause” eviction legislation remove geographic restrictions in the Emergency Tenant Protection Act and end vacancy decontrol. Second, New York must end rent hikes and tenant harassment caused by rent stabilization loopholes by making preferential rents last for the duration of the tenancy, eliminate the vacancy bonus and eliminate permanent rent hikes caused by major capital improvements and individual apartment increases.

“Thank you, Make the Road New York, for setting out to explain how the affordable housing crisis disproportionately impacts immigrant communities,” state Senator Jessica Ramos said. “New York must be affordable for New Yorkers. Rent laws are expiring this June, and I am fighting for universal rent control and laws that will put tenants’ rights first. We have organizing to do.”

The report can be read here: https://maketheroadny.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019-MRNY-Protecting-Immigrant-Homes-Report_Near-Final.pdf

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