Rent rollback calls intensify amid report that shows Latinos, three or more households seeing disparate rent increases

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Bronx Councilmember Pierina Sanchez joins protestors in City Hall Park calling for rent rollback measures amid reports of rent hikes from the Rent Guidelines Board.
Photo Adrian Childress

Update: The Rent Guidelines Board, which sets costs in about 1 million rent-regulated units, voted by a 5 to 4 margin on the proposal, which set rent increases between 2% and 4% for one-year leases, and between 4% and 6% for two-year rentals on Thursday.

New York tenants and housing advocates are continuing to put the pressure on the city’s Rent Guidelines Board to include a rent rollback as part of its preliminary range — which is expected Thursday — amid a new report that shows increased poverty levels in the city and disparities in rent increases for the city’s Black and Latino tenants as well as households of more than three.

On April 14, the Rent Guidelines Board released a report setting forth three methods for computing the increases, which would yield raises ranging from 2.7% to 9% on rent-regulated apartments, after releasing data showing landlords’ operating costs have risen 4.2% since last April.

A white paper report released by Met Council on Housing, a tenants’ rights membership organization made up of New York City tenants, shows that between 2020 and 2022, the number of members making less than $10,000 a year jumped to 43%, doubling from 2020; the number of Latino renters surveyed reported being behind on rent nearly doubled; and rent on households with three or more people increased from 16% to 31%.

Additionally, of those surveyed by Met Council that received ERAP, the state’s economic relief aid for low-income households at risk of eviction, 82% are still behind on rent and Met Council suggests that Black and Latino renters are more likely to report being rent-burdened or severely rent-burdened.

Adams isn’t expected to make a decision regarding rent increases until June, as reported by AMNY regarding a City Hall Park protest last week. In a statement to the Bronx Times, Adams said, “We must be fair here, allow tenants to be able to stay in their living arrangements. But we need to look after those small mom and pop owners.”

Adams has appointed three of the nine members that currently occupy the board.

“Keeping tenants in their homes helps not just the individual tenant but also helps communities,” said Andrea Shapiro, Met Council on Housing’s director of Advocacy and Programs. “We need permanent eviction and price gouging protections in the form of Good Cause Eviction protection for unregulated tenants and a rent rollback for rent-regulated tenants. Our current unaffordability crisis was not created by COVID. COVID simply pushed many tenants who were living on the edge over.”

In addition to urging the Rent Guidelines Board — which has the power to adjust rents citywide — to implement rent rollback measures, Met Council is also imploring Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature to pass Good Cause Eviction Protection to protect “unregulated tenants from no-fault evictions and unconscionable rent increases increase.”

The city’s housing crisis presented in the report did not start with COVID-19, but was certainly accelerated by the pandemic. The report suggests 60% of those surveyed said they are one paycheck away from experiencing homelessness.

Protests ramped up last week in City Hall Park after advocates over the Rent Guidelines Board proposed increases on rent-stabilized tenants.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at rsequeira@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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