Last night, Melissa testified at the Rent Guidelines Board hearing to urge the board to adopt a rent freeze. The board, which determines the rate increase for rent-stabilized housing, voted 5-to-4 to set the increase between 1.75% and 4% for one-year leases and 3.5% to 6.75% for two-year leases. In June, the Board will vote on final numbers from within that range.
As she explained,
In recent years, the Rent Guidelines Board has consistently voted in favor of rent increases for stabilized apartments. Just last year, the Board approved a 3.75% increase on one-year leases and a 7.25% increase on two-year leases. While operating expenses do typically rise each year, tenants have far too often shouldered the burden of those increased expenses, and as the New York Post reported, operating costs rose only 2.8% last year. Furthermore, tenants often report that even as they are paying higher rent each month, their buildings are not maintained and conditions actually worsen.
While rents have steadily increased, the recent economic crisis has meant that New Yorkers’ incomes haven’t. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed for New York City renters, increasing dramatically since 2008, and per capita income fell by 2% since then. Because of regulated increases, rents for rent-stabilized apartments actually increased faster than increases for unregulated apartments. This meant that the percent of New Yorkers with high rent burdens actually increased at a faster rate for rent-regulated households than for those on the free market.