Tenant activists seeking tougher rent regulations rallied outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office on Saturday as they entered the home stretch of their fight to win dramatic new protections for New York renters.
Chanting “The rent’s too damn high” and holding “Governor Eviction” signs, hundreds of tenants demanded action from Cuomo and the Democratic-controlled legislature as the clock ticks down to the June 15 expiration of the current rules covering hundreds of thousands of apartments in the city and beyond.
“We will not be stopped,” Rebecca Garrard of Citizen Action of New York roared. “Tenant power is stronger than real estate power.”
“If you don’t have a key in your pocket, what good is anything else for you?” asked tenant activist Akber Mohamed. “Affordable housing is top of the food chain.”
Tenants are hoping to take advantage of the Democrats’ newfound dominance in Albany to pass wide-ranging new regulations. They have proposed a package of nine bills, including strict new rent regulation and protections from eviction except in cases of non-payment of rent or other violations.
They accuse Cuomo of undermining the push for passage of the bills. The governor counters that he wants a rent regulation policy that balances the interests of tenants and landlords, and takes into account the different conditions in upstate New York.
“We are not taking any watered down bills,” said Upstate and Downstate Alliance member Winsome Pendergrass, leading a chant of “All nine bills.”
Esteban Giron recounted being evicted from his home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, seven years ago. After finding another apartment, he discovered that he was overcharged by $300 a month at that place. “It sort of opened my eyes,” Giron said.
Children and teens wearing colorful T-shirts chanted and sang protest songs with adults at the noisy rally outside Cuomo’s office on Third Avenue in Midtown.
Activists believe that all nine bills are needed to put tenants on a truly equal footing with landlords.
“It would at least be a first step,” said Elijah Hong, 18. “How the laws (are now) constructed, it’s inherently against the renters and the tenants.”
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