Rent Guidelines Votes 0% on 1-year rent stabilized leases, 2% on 2-year leases

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Lucy Yang reports from the East Village. (WABC)

The Rent Guidelines Board voted for a 0% increase on one-year, rent-stabilized leases, and a 2% increase on two-year leases.

The board made history freezing rents for the next year for one-year leases.

Until now, the board has never voted for no increase.

Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement saying, "This was the right call. For the first time in the history of the Rent Guidelines Board, more than a million hardworking and hard-pressed tenants will see no increase in their rent. I applaud the Rent Guidelines Board for making tonight's decision based on hard data, including the unprecedented 21 percent drop in fuel costs over this past year. We know tenants have been forced to make painful choices that pitted ever-rising rent against necessities like groceries, childcare and medical bills. Today's decision means relief. Our administration will continue to work on all fronts to help protect tenants against harassment and displacement. We are equally committed to working with building owners to help modernize their properties to lower their costs, and to ensuring our city's affordable housing remains in good financial health."

Patrick Siconolfi, the Executive Director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) released a statement saying, "For the second year in a row, the Mayor and the Rent Guidelines Board have failed to objectively look at the facts. The unprecedented rent freeze is in no way based in any sort of economic reality and will ultimately stifle investment in our city's most important affordable housing stock and will have a detrimental impact on affordable housing for millions of New Yorkers.

"Today's decision places unrealistic expectations on building owners to subsidize affordable housing on their backs, despite the City's lack of maintaining control on costs on owners at every turn. The Mayor and his Board did not take into account these significant costs of maintaining aging buildings and the increasing expenses such as water and sewer rates. The single biggest expense for rent-stabilized building owners is property tax which accounts for 40% of total building costs and is growing. If preserving affordable housing was the true goal, the Mayor should start by efforts to reduce property taxes, water costs and general municipal fees and charges.

"As the gap between controlled rents and true market rents continues to rise, the majority of New Yorkers who don't live in rent-stabilized apartments will have to pay more in their rent and taxes to subsidize stabilized tenants. New Yorkers need new solutions, ones that support the operations and rehabilitation of apartments and ones that don't subsidize wealthy tenants. The right way to preserve affordable housing is through rent subsidies to tenants."

More than 1.2 million New Yorkers live in rent-regulated apartments the leases of which expire this year.

Last year marked the lowest ever increases until now, up 1% for one year leases and 2.75% for 2 year leases.

Last week, lawmakers in Albany reached the framework of a deal to extend rent regulation laws earlier this week, but not everyone - particularly tenants - are happy with the proposed agreement.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that legislators had agreed on a four-year extension of rent regulations for more than two million tenants and for property tax rebates for homeowners upstate and on Long Island.

"We have a framework of an agreement," he said. "It is robust and includes continued education reforms, cuts taxes, and protects tenants."

But many disagree, and they let the governor know it Wednesday.

"Albany should take this deal and shove it," City Councilman Jumaane Williams said.

In front of Cuomo's office, there was outrage and protest over the deal, after the Mayor Bill de Blasio and tenant groups had asked for much more.

Now, there is fear that thousands of rent-controlled apartments will soon hit market rate and be available only to the rich.

"I want to join everyone in saying, one, that Albany has failed us," Williams said. "And the governor apparently lied about what he wanted in this deal."

As the chanting continued, Cuomo's team said the governor actually made rent laws better for tenants. The governor hailed the agreement, made in the same session that saw the assembly speaker indicted for corruption, and then a couple months later, the same thing with the senate leader.

"With everything, all the changes that were made, that you have two leaders who have reached this agreement, I think is extraordinary," Cuomo said. "So to me, it really is a great day for the state."

Still, Democrats in Albany are calling the agreement a rotten deal for the city. The mayor simply said he's still hoping for more.

"It ain't over til it's over in Albany, so we're going to wait and see what the final product is," he said.
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