Legislative Update

Volume CVI, No. 7/8July, 2006

Heather Beaudoin


Local 802 has endorsed Eliot Spitzer for governor, Andrew Cuomo for attorney general, Hillary Clinton for senator and Alan Hevesi for controller. This election year is very important: please register and vote! You must register no less than 25 days before the election. To register, find your polling place, or for more information, call (866) VOTE-NYC. To volunteer with any campaigning, please contact my office at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176. The primary election is Sept. 12 and the general election is Nov. 7.


On June 1, the tenant advocacy groups, Housing Here and Now and Tenants and Neighbors, held a fair rent laws strategy breakfast meeting that Local 802 participated in. The speakers included Congressman Jerold Nadler, Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Ed Ott, the public policy and worker education director of the Central Labor Council.

Housing Here and Now released a summary of the loss of rent-regulated housing in New York City and educated the breakfast attendees on the demographics of rent stabilized tenants and the type of losses the city is undergoing. Since a large portion of 802 members live in some type of rent protected housing, we will be asking musicians to help support efforts to maintain, and help grow, affordable housing.

Landlords have used legal tactics, such as apartment improvements, to raise rents past the decontrol level. Once an apartment reaches the $2,000 a month threshold, it is decontrolled forever. The rent laws renewed in 2003 for eight years included the vacancy decontrol provisions.

Here are some of the key data in the housing field:

  • Median rent-stabilized tenant incomes are down 5.6 percent.
  • Median rent-stabilized rents are up 8.2 percent.
  • One in five rent-stabilized tenants have incomes under the poverty line.
  • The number of rent-stabilized apartments with rents under $700 a month fell by 33 percent.
  • The number of rent-stabilized apartments with rents over $1,000 a month grew by 64 percent.
  • Two of every three rent-stabilized apartments are located outside of Manhattan.
  • State data shows that 321 percent more apartments were deregulated in 2005 than in 1998.
  • An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 rent-stabilized apartments are deregulated annually.
  • Housing Here and Now quotes a housing expert that estimates 20-30,000 rent stabilized units of housing are lost annually.
  • New York City may lose as many as 300,000 rent regulated units over a decade to vacancy decontrol. This represents 30 percent of the existing New York City rent-stabilized housing stock.
  • In 2005, Manhattan had 32 percent of rent regulated housing; Brooklyn had 27 percent, the Bronx had 21 percent, Queens had 19 percent and Staten Island had 1 percent.
  • In 2001, $35,000 was the median income for rent stabilized tenants. That dropped to 32,000 in 2004.

Many housing advocates and elected officials, including Speaker Quinn, believe that the only way to stop the loss of affordable housing in New York City is to have Albany give back control over rent protections to local governments. In March, Quinn introduced a resolution calling for home rule on rent protections.