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If you live in a rent-stabilized apartment…you may soon be paying more. Tonight, the Rent Guidelines Board will take a preliminary vote, exploring the largest possible increase since 1990. As Julian Abraham reports, the news has landlords eager, and tenants anxious.
JULIAN ABRAHAM, REPORTER: Historically, when the Rent Guidelines Board raises rent, it’s around two to four per cent. But this time, it could be anywhere from 4.5 to six per cent – for renters with one-year leases…and seven to nine per cent for two year. This doesn’t sit well with William Spisak.
WILLIAM SPISAK, HOUSING ADVOCATE: “I think the affordable housing conversation in New York overall is broken – we need a whole new paradigm for the way we think about housing.”
JULIAN ABRAHAM: Spisak is a member of the Queens Community Land Trust, and an outspoken housing advocate. There are almost one million rent stabilized apartments in New York City, and Spisak says the tenants are largely vulnerable.
WILLIAM SPISAK: “We know that rent stabilized tenants tend to be lower income New Yorkers, they tend to be people of color in communities that have either been historically redlined or you know, disproportionately disinvested in so we know that at the end of the day, like these rent increases are going to impact you know, the people who need affordable housing the most.”
JULIAN ABRAHAM: Spisak says a lot essential workers – who were hailed as heroes in the earlier days of the pandemic live in rent stabilized apartments. On the other side of the argument, landlords, like Aaron Weber and his family, who own a property management company called Weber Realty.
AARON WEBER, PROPERTY OWNER: “My family owns 12 units in East Harlem, but we manage a little over 400 residentials across Manhattan, and a little bit in Brooklyn.”
JULIAN ABRAHAM: From his perspective, the idea of a rent increase is welcome. Out of the whole range of possible rent increases, Weber is hoping for the highest one – nine per cent.
Weber says for much of the pandemic, his family business has been losing money. Some of his tenants couldn’t make rent.
AARON WEBER: “It’s been hard. We’ve been taking it day by day”
JULIAN ABRAHAM: Ahead of the vote tonight, the Legal Aid Society of New York called for a total rent increase freeze. In a statement, it said:
“Any increase that would siphon away money for groceries, medical care or other essentials to pad landlords’ pockets is both unconscionable and immoral.”
The Rent Guidelines Board did not respond to a request for comment in time for air.
The preliminary vote is scheduled for seven to nine p-m tonight. After tonight’s vote, there will be public hearings throughout Spring. Then, another vote due in June will mark the final decision.
Julian Abraham, Columbia Radio News.