NEW TENANT “OMNIBUS” BILL
The New York City Comptroller’s office has created a Tenant Legislative Advisory Committee that has drafted an “omnibus” bill encompassing many of the concerns that tenant advocacy groups have been fighting for. The legislation will include reforming the Major Capital Improvement rent increase program, reform of Rent Guidelines Board member selection and its decision-making process, and repealing the Urstadt Law, which prevents New York City government from strengthening rent protection.
DHCR FINAL REGULATIONS
On Dec. 20, the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) adopted amendments that govern implementation of the four rent and eviction regulation laws in effect in New York State. These amendments, which are now in effect, were developed without consultation from tenant groups and the end result is dismal.
DHCR adopted three main changes that will make it increasingly difficult for tenants to feel secure in their homes. First, the 90-day deadline for challenging deregulation of an apartment was eliminated. However, tenant advocates point out that this provision clearly violates the four-year statutory provision, and would never survive a court challenge. Second is the elimination of the “pass-through” rules on electrical conversion. This is harmful to tenants as it concerns rent reductions when buildings are converted from master metering to individual apartment metering. Lastly, DHCR adopted a complicated and arbitrary new formula for calculating the rent a tenant can charge a roommate. This will make many tenants afraid to tell their landlord how much they’re charging their roommates when asked. Tenants will face eviction for charging $10 a month more than the formula allows.
To obtain copies of the new amendments to the regulations write to Michael Berrios, Executive Assistant at the NYC Division of Housing and Community Renewal Office of Rent Administration, 92-31 Union Hall Street, Jamaica, NY 11433.
FIGHTING TOWARDS A LIVING WAGE
Living wage legislation that would expand the 1996 Prevailing Wage Law is currently being drafted by the New York City Living Wage Coalition, for introduction in the New York City Council. The coalition was formed by the New York City Central Labor Council, New York ACORN, Greater New York Labor Religion Coalition, Council of Churches of the City of New York and Working Families Party. This legislation would raise wages substantially for workers whose work is contracted out by the City of New York to nonprofit and for profit agencies. If enacted, it would affect more than 180,000 working men and women in New York City.
COALITION FOR A MEDICAID BUY-IN LOBBIES PATAKI
The Coalition for a Medicaid Buy-In is urging Governor Pataki to implement measures in the “Ticket to Work/Work Incentives Improvement Act” to improve Medicaid Buy-In provisions. The coalition is working to ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities can live a decent life without losing their life-sustaining Medicaid coverage. Specifically, it is encouraging income eligibility standards that will allow the broadest possible participation in the program. It takes the position that Medicaid Buy-In should disregard spousal income and should include practical and reasonable asset allowances that encourage saving, home ownership and financial self-sufficiency. In his recent State of the State address, the governor indicated support for expanding Medicaid.