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How the Landlord’s Worst Nightmare Could Protect Millions of New Yorkers | NYT Opinion Jan 12, 2022

We believe that two things are at the root of New York’s housing crisis. First: the real estate industry has too much power, and people have too little. Second, the public sector has failed to invest in real solutions. This crisis is felt across our entire State and its impacts are devastating: 

  • 92,000 New Yorkers are homeless;
  • 50% of low income tenants are paying more than half of their income in housing costs;
  • Hundreds of thousands of tenants in public and private housing are living in substandard conditions, in fear of retaliatory eviction should they seek to enforce their rights; 
  • New York State has a shortage of over 650,000 homes for low income and working class people

Our Solution: #HouseNY

#HouseNY works together to invest public resources into housing for low income and working class New Yorkers, eliminate wasteful tax subsidies to corporate developers, and give tenants more rights to fight evictions and unaffordable rent increases. 

Good Cause Eviction (A05573/S03082)

Good Cause Eviction stabilizes communities by giving tenants’ the right to remain in their home after their lease expires. It allows tenants a mechanism to challenge rent increases above 150% of the consumer price index or 3%, whichever is higher (around 8% this year.) If passed, it would prevent retaliatory evictions for 1.6 million households statewide.

Right now, tenants are facing price gouging and double-digit rent increases all over the State. This crisis falls hardest on Black families, who are three times more likely than white families to face displacement. Good cause eviction could change all that, allowing tenants to seek repairs or negotiate rent increases free from the fear of retaliation.

Tenant Opportunity to Purchase (TOPA) (A05971/S03157)

Often, when tenants come together and organize in their building, landlords sell off their property in order to avoid taking action to improve living conditions. With the rights that TOPA enshrines into law, tenants would have the leverage and power to win real repairs in their buildings and ultimately to take those buildings over for themselves. 

TOPA gives tenants’ associations a right of first refusal when a building is for sale or foreclosure. Through TOPA tenants have the ability to assign those rights to nonprofit housing providers, community land trusts, and/or public housing authorities and convert homes to housing in the social sector.

Eliminate 421-a

421-a is a billion-dollar boondoggle. It is a tax exemption for luxury real estate developers, it fuels gentrification, drives up rents, and produces housing that is unaffordable to working families. 421-a  expires in 2022, but Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget revives it and rebrands it as “485-w.” 421-a/485-w must be eliminated from the budget and allowed to expire in June. 

Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP)  (A3701A/S2804B)

HAVP creates a statewide rental assistance program for New York. It provides subsidies to pay housing costs to homeless families/individuals, as well as tenants who are currently unstably housed. If passed, it would be the first rental assistance program in the United States that is open to undocumented people. HAVP must be funded at $1 billion annually in order to be effective. 

Fully Fund the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act (HONDA)

Last year the legislature passed HONDA, an unprecedented bill to allow for the purchase of abandoned hotels and commercial spaces to be converted to affordable housing for homeless New Yorkers — but only invested in converting hotels in New York City. Homelessness and divestment in our commercial real estate exists across New York State — we are fighting to expand this program so that homeless New Yorkers, housing providers, and cities from Buffalo to the Hudson Valley are able to convert distressed buildings into permanent homes for the homeless.