DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN, Brooklyn (WABC) -- There was fury from tenants outside a Rent Guidelines Board public hearing in Downtown Brooklyn on Thursday night.
"It's absurd and obscene to try to get the top rent increase right now when we are in the middle of a housing and homeless crisis," said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Tenants were angry over the proposed increases for rent-stabilized tenants: two to five percent for one-year leases and four to seven percent for two-year leases.
"I'm 71 years old. I don't got retirement. And after, it's more because I don't receive no food stamp, no nothing. So for me, It's going to be hard to survive," said Maria Cortes.
Cortes is a rent-stabilized tenant from Bed-Stuy. She says if the proposed hikes go through, it would mean a $300 increase a month.
"I live day by day and running off the food pantry to get food to feed myself. And for my husband who is sick and legally blind," Cortes added.
Cortes was one of hundreds of tenants who lined up around the block to testify at the hearing. IT was so packed, roughly half of them could not get inside, where it was raucous.
There are more than a million rent-controlled and rent-stabilized apartments in the city.
There were no landlords who testified at the hearing, but in past hearings, they have argued that they, too are feeling the sting of inflation and suffered from COVID, saying they did not receive full rent from tenants out of work.
Landlords say the proposed increases are not high enough.
Michael Tobman, director of membership and communications of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents 25,000 diverse owners of over 1 million rent-stabilized apartments in the five boroughs, said: "After the deplorable display of intimidation by members of the City Council and activists who stormed the stage at last month's RGB meeting, RSA advised its members to testify only at Tuesday's virtual public hearing so their voices would be heard without interruption. The RGB's own data shows that income growth plummeted, costs increased, and rent revenue declined for rent-stabilized buildings. Owners need adequate rent adjustments to keep pace with constant increases in property taxes, insurance and mortgage rates, and utility, energy, maintenance, and other operational costs. The RGB must set rent adjustments that will prevent the city's largest segment of affordable housing stock from plunging into an insolvency crisis."
The final vote will be held on June 21.
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News