The board voted 5-4 to raise rent for rent-stabilized apartments to 3.25% for one-year leases and 5% for two-year leases.
Susan Steinberg, 75, lives with her two cuddly cats. She used to pay $350 a month for her one-bedroom in Stuytown. That was in 1980. Today she pays $1,500 and her rent is about to go up another 5%.
"I'm angry and on a day-to-day, I have to think now when I go to the grocery store. I can't buy everything I want," she said.
Steinberg was one of the hundreds of tenants at the Rent Guidelines Board meeting at Cooper Union on Tuesday night. They chanted, protested, and even turned their backs on the board. They tried to drown out the rent hikes but they could not stop the vote.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the board's decision will be a "burden to tenants" at a difficult time, while also acknowledging that small landlords are at risk of bankruptcy because of years of no increases at all.
"This system is broken, and we cannot pit landlords against tenants as winners and losers every year," Adams said in a statement following the board vote.
There was swift pushback on the vote from organizations like New Settlement and The Legal Aid Society, the latter of whom called the vote "shameful."
"Tonight's shameful vote, one which was likely predetermined, to increase rents on our most vulnerable neighbors is unconscionable, and many families will suffer as a result," said Adriene Holder, Chief Attorney of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society.
Prior to the vote, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams urged the board to vote on the low end of the proposed rent hike.
"Allowing substantial increases in rent at this time would endanger far too many New Yorkers who are unable to pay these proposed rent increases," Adams said in a statement to the board. "We cannot afford to plunge hundreds of thousands of rent-regulated New Yorkers into the chaos of a housing market that already does not have sufficient supply to meet demand, especially when our city is in the midst of demonstrating remarkable resilience in its recovery efforts."
The council speaker, like Mayor Adams, also acknowledged, that the board's decision does have to take into account the interests of homeowners and landlords.
There are 25,000 property owners responsible for a million rent-regulated apartments in New York City. Landlords were hoping for a bigger increase, especially given rising fuel bills, 0% increases during the pandemic, and overall, aging buildings.
"We believe the data justified higher increases than this," Vito Signorile said. "However this is a step in the right direction."
A preliminary vote last month set the range at 2 to 4% increases on one-year leases, and 4 to 6% increases for two-year leases.
The motion passed with a vote of five to four with no abstentions.
Tuesday's vote comes after two years of rents either frozen or increases kept unusually low due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with eight years of mostly modest increases during the de Blasio administration.
The new hikes go into effect in October. This is one of the largest jumps in decades.
Even with the rent hikes, a rent-stabilized apartment is generally more cost-effective.
That's because market-rate prices are surging in New York City. One-bedroom apartments are up 12% from last year in the Bronx and close to 20% in Queens and Brooklyn. Prices are surging even higher in Manhattan.
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