Dear Governor Cuomo,
I recently faced every renter’s worst nightmare — eviction. Almost three years ago, I was living in what seemed like an endless cycle of tenant harassment, unjust police intervention, and debt.
I live in the Village of Hempstead on Long Island, an area where police are constantly targeting low-income residents of color. I was unjustly arrested in my home and had to pay bail; I live on a fixed income and have a young son, so the choice for me was clear: do I pay the bond to get out of jail, or do I pay my rent?
Low-income tenants in Black and brown communities, where police abuse their power and landlords harass us, are constantly forced to make choices like this.
Governor Cuomo, no one should have to make a choice like that just to survive.
After this incident, my landlord was hell-bent on evicting me from my apartment in order to do renovations. He wanted to put me on the street just so he could raise the rent for that apartment.
My story is just one of many where tenants are facing similar situations with housing -- abusive landlords, rent hikes, and barely any legal protections. Shamefully, this is why there are 89,000 homeless people in New York State.
Who is responsible for this housing crisis? You are, Governor Cuomo. After 7 years in office, you've failed to strengthen protections for New York tenants. It's time for you to stand with tenants, starting with strengthening the rent laws.
Governor Cuomo, take a walk in our shoes for just 90 days and see how we live. Get one of these apartments and see what's going on with the housing crisis firsthand.
New Yorkers will continue to make our voices heard, and we are going to hold you accountable.
Vice President, Long Island Tenants Union
Village of Hempstead in Long Island, New York