Protesters rally for universal rent control in Bushwick

Protect and serve: State Sen. Julia Salazar has introduced one of nine bills which legislators hope will strengthen protections for tenants across the state.
Brooklyn Paper
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State politicians must enact so-called universal rent control, protesters demanded at a march in Bushwick Thursday.

More than one hundred demonstrators rallied in support of a slate of bills making their way through the Albany legislature by Democrats aiming to renew and expand rent regulations, before New York’s rent laws expire this June.

The bills aim to close loopholes for rent-stabilized tenants and expand their existing protections to all private tenants in the state, which will make housing safer for vulnerable New Yorkers, according to one protestor and housing activist who received a 30-day eviction notice to leave her Bushwick apartment by the end of April.

“I do not understand how we have created a system that makes it normal to harass tenants and put them out onto the streets. My family, like five million other renters, needs support in the form of legal protection,” said Mireya Vega, who is also a member of the tenants rights advocacy group Make the Road New York, which organized the march down the north Brooklyn neighborhood’s Knickerbocker Avenue terminating at her apartment building at Flushing Avenue.

The organization is part of a statewide coalition called the Upstate Downstate Housing Alliance, which lobbies politicians of both houses to enact nine pieces of legislation before the June 15 deadline.

The bills, which aim to bolster protections for currently-stabilized tenants, include laws to stop landlords from deregulating those apartments if the rent of a unit surpasses $2,733 a month or if the occupant leaves.

These tenants have several protections under the current rent laws, such as prohibiting evictions without good cause and limiting rent increases to somewhere between 0-2.5 percent, as determined annually by each city board.

These regulations only apply to buildings with six or more units, but several gentrifying neighborhoods – such as Bushwick and East New York – have a housing stock with mostly smaller buildings, according to the Alliance.

One local state pol who has been vocal on housing said that this creates an arbitrary discrepancy of rights which favors the landowners over tenants, as is the case with Vega’s impending eviction.

“For no other reason than that it is a smaller building, they are excluded from the protections of rent regulations,” said state Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Bushwick). “Our rent laws advantage property owners over tenants.”

The legislator in March introduced a bill which would prohibit landlords from evicting a tenant or not renewing their lease without good cause, such as the tenant not paying their rent, substantially violating their lease terms, or if the landlord or someone in their immediate family want to move into the apartment.

Salazar said that her bill was just one of many that she and her fellow pols upstate will have to make law in order to wrest power from landlords and make the city more affordable.

“Our housing crisis is like a sinking boat with many holes in it,” she said.

One protestor said that she saw her community forced out of neighboring Williamsburg due to a loosely-regulated real estate market and now fears that the same will happen in Bushwick.

“I used to work in Bushwick for 28 years and I know the situation,” said Maria Cortes. “We are losing the neighborhood, we are losing everything and we have the right to live over here, New York is our home and we want to stay in New York.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 9:55 am, April 22, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I have to imagine that the just-cause eviction bill is more important to the areas of the state with cheap rents and declining populations than any rules about how much rent can increase. And I think the best way to protect tenants in Bushwick is to build a TON of housing in my neighborhood. Bushwick is a nice place, but Williamsburg is also nice and happens to be closer to the major job centers. A lot of people would be happy to live in Williamsburg and won't try to bid up rents in Bushwick. (The same logic applies to Manhattan neighborhoods, but even more so.)
April 19, 2019, 4:31 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
I once landed a rent stabilized apartment in WB around the turn of the century. It was going to be $450 a month but the landlord found a way to jack it up to $575 even though previous tenant had only been there for one year. Still, that was a great deal and WB was just starting to become "gentrified". I stayed for maybe seven years and when I left it was $750. He then gut renovated it and charged around $1,350. I think now he told me now it is over $2000. The laws do perhaps favor the lardlords. But, in the bigger picture, my landlord had owned the handful of buildings (inherited) for many years and made little profit at all and had sold one just to cover back taxes from previous owner. Insurance, upkeep, taxes etc. meant he was by no means a rich man. Maybe his is now that WB "gentrified" but that was luck of the drawl. Striking a balance will be difficult. Landlords need to want a reason to own the property, take care of it and so on. And I'm mostly talking about your average landlord who own a building or two, not the LLCs and Hassidic mafia. Likewise, tenants need at least some reasonable protections.
April 19, 2019, 4:32 pm
Jenny from Queens says:
Then there will be no apartments available. It’s unworkable.
April 19, 2019, 9:29 pm
Jack from Bushwick says:
I imagine Ms Salazar does not understand anything about the economics of smaller buildings, nor the financing behind their mortgages. Her abilities to cast small landlords as villains is comical. Universal rent control will lead to failing infrastructure. I have to ask, is she dumb or nuts?
April 20, 2019, 2:45 am
Somebody from Somewhere says:
I understand that landlords are in the biz to make money but some of them are very heartless towards their tenants, if not most of them.
April 20, 2019, 6:04 am
SCR from Realityville says:
There's continually many many apartments in"real upstate NY",which begins in Albany and goes east to Nigeria Falls,or north to the Canadian border;for about $500.00 to $600.00. I mean two(2) bedroom apartment,for this rent. In fact places,such as Syracuse,for decades;have had such a glut of housing-that to improve the quality of life there,they have torn down Syracuse area homes. In the age of the Internet,there are no excuses,for a bunch of lazy total asses;NOT doing their homework. We demand sound,sensible,effective;efficient-governmental policies(on all levels),certainly NOT Ideological-purity. And,this totally without regard,to whether;it is the Ideological-purity of the Leftist,or the Ideologically-purity,or the Rightists? They are both equally EVIL.
April 20, 2019, 11:38 am
Somebody from Somewhere says:
@SCR, so how about you move up there if thats the case?
April 20, 2019, 6:21 pm
JoJo Washington from Bushwhacked says:
I have zero sympathy for these people. The same demographic got that socialist witch AOC elected up in Queens, destroying 25,000 jobs for NYC. This Salazar woman is another Socialist Commie who belongs in Venezuela. If these people keep electing in these anti-Americans then they deserve everything that comes their way. They don’t belong in a free, capitalist society. Hasta la vista, baby.
April 20, 2019, 6:59 pm
SCR from Realityville says:
My point is that a proposal to enact rent-regulation,in places;in which two(2)-Bedroom apartment rent for $500.00 to $600.00 per-month;is as reasonable,as giving a corporation-that was recently valued,at over $1 Trillion,billion of $;in tax-breaks. Oops,this almost happened,with Amazon. And,still,is a real possibility. Do yourself favors,before anyone,criticizes me;check on-line,what monthly apartment rents currently are,around Syracuse. The cinch,of the Internet,allows zero excuses-for NOT.
April 21, 2019, 8:54 am
Andrew Cuomo from Ugliest Face Ever says:
SCR where did you learn how to punctuate? Geeeeez
April 21, 2019, 1:14 pm
Felicia from Flatbush says:
I’m sorry, if anything the rent should be higher. If these people don’t like it, they should get better JOBS??
April 21, 2019, 6:44 pm
Lezzie Dykstra from WickedBush says:
Other minority groups like the Chinese and the Bengalis will move to an affordable neighbor where they can purchase their own homes. The Blacks and Latinos feel entitled to remain in expensive gentrifying neighborhoods while paying rockbottom rents. The politicians have to stop lying to these people. They need to band together and go wherever necessary to purchase their own homes. Go help gentrify East New York before it’s too late! Bushwick is done!
April 21, 2019, 11:27 pm
Mathematician from Brooklyn says:
Rent control was changed to rent stabilization because rent control had lead to widespread building abandonment and even burning buildings for the insurance because the income from the buildings did not keep up with the expenses for the buildings. That's how the South Bronx was created.
April 22, 2019, 7:22 am
frank from furter says:
the US Supreme court has allowed rent regulation where there is an emergency. Universal rent control is not an emergency. The Fifth amendment to the constitution prevents the taking of private property without just compensation. Reasonable rent controls might be ok, unreasonable ones will get the whole law thrown out. But the whole concept of rent control has not been before the US SC for a long time(more than 50 years) and with the continuing conservatism of the court, major changes would IMO be overturned completely.
April 22, 2019, 7:30 am
Mathematician from Brooklyn says:
*had led
April 22, 2019, 7:54 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I wouldn't be surprised if those who oppose universal rent control or stabilization are probably high up on the ladder and can easily afford to live in gentrified neighborhoods on their incomes.
April 22, 2019, 2:02 pm
TheX from Staten Island says:
No, Tal Barzilai. It is the fact that I could NEVER afford these areas while these people feel ENTITLED to them makes me want to throw up. When I could only afford Southern Brooklyn, I lived there. When I couldn't anymore, I moved to Staten Island. When and if I can't afford my neighborhood again, I'd move. There's nothing wrong with it.
April 23, 2019, 12:39 pm
Homeowner from Bed stuy says:
As a homeowner who rents out my second unit in a 2 family home, if this just cause eviction passes. I would never rent long term again, renters should never have more control over a home than the actual owner. I should be able to evict a tenant if i want my space back as long as i give reasonable time to vacate. How do renters just assume ownership?
April 24, 2019, 8:10 am
Rent from Brooklyn says:
Rent: Payment for a temporary use. When the term is up, the landlord has fulfilled it's obligation and is free to do as they choose with their property. If the government wants to ensure poor planners have a place to live, let the government do it at their own property (ie. Public housing).
April 28, 2019, 5:45 pm
MJ from Bushwick says:
As a landlord, I think rules and laws should be fair across the board for both sides, the landlords and tenants. Some tenants act as if they are the owner of the property(ies), some tenants are aggressive and bully with intimidation, they want to do as they please and as if are entitled of the apartment(s) or property...etc on the other flip side they are some landlords who are greedy and wants to mistreat tenants that is not right either. Not all landlords are well established, there are some landlords are struggling to keep up with the rise of inflation. There are those who want to freeze rent increase, vacancy increase, Capital improvement etc and mean while tax bill, water, electricity, gas, oil and many other expenses are being increased every year. There should not be any selfishness and or bias, favortism etc... government should not the have the right to force landlords to do. AGAIN THERE SHOULD BE FAIRNESS FOR BOTH SIDES.
May 2, 2019, 11:42 am
MJ from Bushwick says:
You have tenants who refuse to their rent on time and think they are entitled of ... when take them to court for non-payment, the tenant get a one shot deal, and stayed in the apartment for another nine months, without paying again, then landlord take the that same tenant to court again and they get another one shot deal some agency or agencies pay for the tenant again... and so the cycle starts again and on and it is so ridiculous, ... if goverment and city agencies can build morr affordable aprtment for these low income tenants.... political leaders, representative of landlords, and representative of tenants need to come together fairly set up a constructive environment for both sides.
May 2, 2019, Noon
MJ from Bushwick says:
There must be fairness for all.
May 2, 2019, 12:03 pm

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