Housing Push

Wall Street Journal - A coalition of progressive groups, including local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America, is kicking off a “Housing Justice for All” campaign that seeks to expand rent-control laws to every corner of the state.

The Upstate-Downstate Housing Alliance—which also includes Citizen Action, Community Voices Heard and New York Communities for Change—will organize voters around the state. It hopes to pressure the Legislature to allow any municipality to opt into the 1974 law that established rent-stabilization programs in New York City as well as Westchester, Rockland and Nassau counties.

“We have tenants who are having the same issues but won’t have the same protections because they live in a place where they can’t opt in,” said Juanita Lewis, the Hudson Valley organizing director for Community Voices Heard.

The coalition is drafting a bill to be introduced in coming weeks, Ms. Lewis said, and is expected to be sponsored by Sen. Neil Breslin, a Democrat of Albany County and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. Both are Democrats. It would let any municipality vote to set up a county-level rent guidelines board that determines increases in older, larger apartment buildings.

The rent regulations expire at the end of June, and Ms. Lewis said she wants to see passage of the expansion before negotiations about other changes to the law heat up. The Rent Stabilization Association, which represents landlords, opposes any expansion of rent regulations.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that he wants to see the rent laws strengthened to protect tenants, including the abolition of the vacancy decontrol process through which apartments fall out of the program as their rents rise. Leaders of the Assembly and Senate have voiced similar desires, but none have committed to the geographic expansion.