November 10th, 2022
Kingston Tenants Win Historic 15% Rent Reduction from Rent Guidelines Board
This tenant organizing victory by For the Many and other grassroots groups comes after Orlando and several cities across California adopted rent control on Tuesday.
KINGSTON, N.Y. - On Wednesday night, by a 6–3 vote, the Kingston Rent Guidelines Board enacted a historic 15% rent reduction for over 1,200 apartments across 64 rent-stabilized buildings. This is the first rent reduction in New York State history and comes after months of organizing by tenants, For the Many, and other grassroots groups, including Citizen Action, Mid-Hudson Valley DSA, and Housing Justice for All.
This rent reduction will apply to all new one- and two-year leases which commence between August 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023. All landlords from eligible “ETPA buildings” are now required to offer these leases to tenants. The Board also voted to create a three-year lookback period for Fair Market Rent Appeals, which allows tenants a one-time challenge to their base rent, to which all future adjustments will be applied.
The six votes in favor of a rent reduction were tenant representatives Carol Soto and Michael Tierney and public representatives Mie Inouye, Noah Kippley-Ogman, Diana Lopez, and Arlene Puentes. The three votes against were property owner representatives Anthony Tampone and Tara Perry and public representative Michael Brown. Earlier in the meeting, Perry’s motion for a 5% rent increase failed 1–8. A straw poll for a 30% rent reduction attracted the support of Soto, Tierney, Inouye, and Lopez.
In July, after successful organizing by For the Many and other allies, Kingston declared a housing emergency to opt into the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA). This created the first Rent Guidelines Board in the state north of Rockland County. The Board governs rents for all buildings of six or more units built before 1974. This includes some of the largest apartment complexes in Kingston, including Stony Run, Fairview Gardens, Dutch Village, and Spring Brook Village.
In October, For the Many launched its Reduce Kingston’s Rents campaign, calling on the Board to enact a historic rent reduction and adopt a long lookback period. A reduction is necessary to counteract outrageous rent gouging by landlords. From 2016 to 2020, Ulster County rents rose by 27% for a one-bedroom apartment and 48% for a two-bedroom. Rents have only shot up further during the pandemic; Zillow data shows that the average Kingston rent has doubled since 2015. More information can be found in this fact sheet.
At both public hearings held by the Board, tenants and their allies turned out overwhelmingly in support of a rent reduction. At the October 25th hearing, 22 of the 29 speakers were tenants or their allies. At the November 5th hearing, more than fifty speakers called for a rent reduction, with just two landlords testifying in opposition.
One of these landlords admitted to owning no ETPA buildings, and the other was Rich Lanzarone, executive director of the Hudson Valley Property Owners Association. Not only did he say hearing about the struggles of tenants makes him want to “puke,” but he also inexplicably cited the Magna Carta as a legal precedent. Lanzarone is also the lead plaintiff in a nonsensical lawsuit attempting to strike down the entire Board; a requested temporary restraining order has already been denied by a judge.
Many tenants who testified in favor of a rent reduction at the hearings were Stony Run residents. Their apartment complex is the largest ETPA-eligible one in Kingston, and was bought last year by real estate investment firm Aker Companies. Despite promising “
very very minimal” rent increases, Aker has raised rents by as much as 67%, levied arbitrary fees, and neglected basic maintenance. This led Stony Run tenants—with the support of For the Many—to form a tenant union. Last Friday, members of its organizing committee traveled to Beacon to deliver a list of demands to Aker’s office.
Along with For the Many, supporters of the rent reduction include Citizen Action, Mid-Hudson Valley DSA, Housing Justice for All, the Kingston Interfaith Council, the Hudson Valley Justice Center, the Community Service Society, the Legal Aid Society, Assemblymember-elect Sarahana Shrestha, Ulster County Legislator Phil Erner, and Kingston Alderwoman Michele Hirsch. Several academics also submitted expert testimony in favor of a rent reduction, including Professor of Economics and Sustainable Development Dr. Eban Goodstein, Professor of Economics Timothy Koechlin, and Professor of Urban Studies Kwame Holmes.
“This is a monumental victory not just for Kingston tenants, but for tenants across New York,” said Aaron Narraph Fernando, Communications Lead at For the Many. “Any reduction in rents would have been historic, but the capacity for a 15% reduction to provide substantive relief to thousands of people cannot be overstated. We applaud the Rent Guidelines Board for their vote after hearing from more than seventy tenants, homeowners, and experts overwhelmingly in favor of a rent reduction. From seniors facing outrageous rent hikes, to pregnant moms thrown out on the street, to Stony Run residents receiving literal blackmail letters, Board members couldn’t ignore the stories of Kingston tenants. We’re excited for the reduction’s implementation and for the rest of the state to follow in Kingston’s footsteps. Rent stabilization and Good Cause are the keys to New York’s future.”
“I am proud of the decision made tonight and prouder still that so many members of our community stood up and said this Board needed to act decisively to keep tenants in their homes,” said Michael Tierney, tenant representative to the Kingston Rent Guidelines Board. “This reduction represents a paradigm shift in how we address the needs of the many over unregulated market conditions. I am so grateful for every tenant who courageously shared their story, as well as every advocate and expert who spoke about how destructive high rents are to a community, and to my fellow tenant representative Carol Soto for her determination and wisdom during these proceedings.”
“In 2019, the New York tenant movement made history when we won a massive expansion of rent stabilization,” said Cea Weaver, Campaign Coordinator at Housing Justice for All, a statewide coalition of more than 80 organizations representing tenants and homeless New Yorkers. “Today in Kingston, we’re seeing the fruits of that labor. This historic victory shows that when tenants fight, we win. In the face of an out-of-control housing crisis, tenants are coming together to demand our own solutions—not just in New York, but in Orlando, Santa Monica, and all over the country. Lawmakers should take note: we won’t be waiting for landlords and developers to free market our way out of this housing crisis. We will be taking the streets for Good Cause and a pro-tenant agenda to protect all New Yorkers from outrageous rent hikes. And we will win.”
For the Many is building a grassroots movement of everyday people to transform the Hudson Valley and New York so it works for all of us, not the greedy few.Aaron Narraph FernandoCommunications Lead, For the Many(646) 732-1518
Thursday, November 10, 2022
Monday, July 25, 2022
ARTICLES OF INTEREST TO TENANT ADVOCATES:UPSTATE
Jesse Smith: Kingston Common Council schedules July 26 hearing on opting into rent control, schedules vote for July 28 (Kingston Wire)
Courtney Ward: Albany protestors call on Gov. Hochul, Assembly Members Fahy & McDonald to pass good cause eviction bill (News 10) (VIDEO)
Vince Briga: Binghamton landlord arrested for failure to appear in court on code violations; Mayor says it's just the beginning (Spectrum News) (VIDEO)
Paul Kirby: Candidates for Ulster County Executive weigh in on For The Many's proposal to regulate short-term rentals (Kingston Daily Freeman)
HOTELS INTO HOUSING?
David Porter: Hochul, Adams announce agreement on funding for new Penn Station (Seattle Times/AP)
MONEY & POLITICIANS
Greg David: Eric Adams wants to promote homeownership by people of color (The City)
David Brand: Pressed for shelter space, NYC turns to notorious landlords with ties to mayor's chief of staff (City Limits
Jeff Coltin: Eric Adams raises more from outside NYC for his re-election than from within the city (City & State)
Sally Goldenberg: Real estate executives flood NYC Mayor Eric Adams' 2025 re-election account. Here's who contributed (Politico)
Daily News: Crypto-touting real estate firm gave $21K to Eric Adams' 2025 re-election fund after he asked Hochul to veto mining bill
Annie McDonough: Redistricting commission releases draft New York City Council maps for 2023 election (City & State)
Jeff Coltin: Rivera, Niou and Goldman form top tier in new poll for 10th congressional district; de Blasio has withdrawn(City & State)
Jeff Coltin: Yuh-Line Niou and Carlina Rivera tied for first in another new poll for 10th congressional district (City & State)
Theodore Hamm: Carlina Rivera raises money from landlords as Yuh-Line Niou stakes out clear control of the left lane in race for 10th congressional district (The Indypendent)
Gothamist: NYC real estate industry dumps lots of money into primary for 10th congressional district, especially to Rivera, Goldman & Jones
Jeff Coltin: Mondaire Jones swore off Goldman Sachs money -- but took donations from its top lobbyists (City & State)
City & State: In seventh place in two polls, Bill de Blasio drops out of race for new 10th congressional district
The City: De Blasio can use the $500K he raised for aborted congressional run as a slush fund to pay off his debts
Nicholas Fandos: Carolyn Maloney lends $900K to her congressional campaign against Jerry Nadler (New York Times)
Zach Williams: State senate wannabe David Yassky claims false endorsements (New York Post)
Chris Bragg: Carpenters union plans $1 million Independent Expenditure to help Hochul + some Democratic senators (Albany Times Union)
Carl Campanile: Here's the $93K proof that Andrew Cuomo tried to make a political comeback (New York Post)
David Alexis & Alex Vitale: A new deal for public safety (Gotham Gazette Opinion)
Bobby Cuza: Former Brooklyn Assembly Member Al Vann dies at 87 (New York 1) (VIDEO)
Politico New York Playbook: Ex-Cuomo crew has thoughts
DEED THEFT AND EVICTION
Chau Lam: Brooklyn man faces eviction from home he has owned for more than 50 years (Gothamist
Nolan Hicks: NYC lost more than 5,000 Manhattan businesses during the pandemic (New York Post)
Tim Murphy: Could NYCHA really fall into private hands? Controversy over Preservation Trust legislation (City & State)
Janaki Chadha: NYC tried to make apartments affordable. The opposite happened. (Politico).
Friday, April 22, 2022
(Excerpted from Michael McKee's weekly email)
LANDLORDS HOLD APTS OFF MARKET
GOOD CAUSE EVICTION LAW
Christian Garzone: State lawmakers, tenants push good cause eviction law at Rochester town hall (Rochester First) (VIDEO)
Emily Putnam: Rochester advocates push state legislature to pass good cause eviction bill (WHEC) (VIDEO)
RACE AGAINST RENT HIKE
Ross Barkan: The race against the rent hike; NYC Mayor Eric Adams plans to raise rents (Political Currents)
New York Post: Mayor Eric Adams says landlords need a rent increase
Aaron Ginsburg: NYC Rent Guidelines Board recommends rent increases up to 9 percent for rent-stabilized tenants (6sqft)
Michael Gartland: NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams demand Mayor Eric Adams increase funding for housing, homelessness (Daily News)
Washington Post: Rents are rising everywhere. See how much prices are up in your area
EVICTIONS RISING (NOT ENOUGH LAWYERS)
Jennifer Bisram: NYC tenants facing eviction as courts accelerate cases, tenants cannot get free legal help (WPIX) (VIDEO)
Molly Crane-Newman: NYC Housing Court crisis: Shortage of lawyers forces tenants to represent themselves despite Right to Counsel law (Daily News)
Chau Lam: NY City Council Member Shaun Abreu asks Gov. Hochul to save Right to Counsel law (Gothamist)
Jennifer White Karp: NYC rental market is bonkers: Manhattan's net effective monthly median rent was $3,644 in March; $2,955 in Brooklyn (Brick Underground)
HOMELESS PEOPLE PROTEST/STAY LONGER IN SHELTERS
Jessica Meditz: Ridgewood Tenants Union organizer Raquel Namuche defiant after arrest in police sweep of homeless encampment (Queens Ledger)
Alex Press: On homelessness, Eric Adams has made sadism NYC's official policy (Jacobin)
Mara Gay: On homelessness, Eric Adams needs a little religion (New York Times Opinion)
Chau Lam: Fewer families in NYC shelters, but length of stay has grown (Gothamist)
Sara Dorn: Jumaane Williams proposes homeless bill of rights (City & State)
LANDLORDS DOUBLE-DIPPING & MORE
Suzannah Cavanagh: A.G. Letitia James says landlords who got rent aid are illegally raising rents (The Real Deal)
Patrick Lakamp: As case proceeded without him, landlord sold houses where 29 Buffalo children were lead poisoned (Buffalo News)
Nicholas Fandos: Appellate court rejects new congressional lines, says Democrats engaged in illegal partisan gerrymandering; upholds legislative lines (New York Times)
Nick Reisman: Judge appoints special master to draw new district lines, as appeal process continues (NY State of Politics)
Kathryn Brenzel: Real estate winners and losers, state budget edition (The Real Deal)
City & State: Winners and losers in the state budget
ZERO EMPLOYEES FOR VOUCHER DISCRIMINATION ENFORCEMENT
David Brand: NYC's long-understaffed voucher discrimination unit now has zero employees (City Limits)
SAN FRANCISCO LAW: LANDLORDS MUST BARGAIN WITH TENANT ASSOCIATIONS
Jack Ross: San Francisco ordinance requires landlords to recognize tenant associations, bargain in good faith (Capital and Main/Portside)
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
The management of 50 West 97th Street refuses to offer for rent 9 vacant rent stabilized apartments. The management is just warehousing them. And that's just one building.
Saturday, April 2, 2022
EXCERPTED FROM MICHAEL McKEE's
ARTICLES OF INTEREST TO TENANT ADVOCATES
REDISTRICTING IN LIMBO
SO IS STATE BUDGET
Nick Reisman: State budget in limbo as April 1 deadline will be missed (NY State of Politics)
Zach Williams: As budget deadline looms, progressives turn to activist tactics on state budget (City & State)
Susan Arbetter: The latest on housing issues in NYS budget (Capital Tonight) (VIDEO)
Denis Slattery: Hochul faces backlash on Buffalo Bills stadium deal, bail reform rollbacks as budget talks continue; nine tenant advocates arrested pushing for good cause eviction and against 421-a renewal (Daily News)
Martínez: (14 arrested in Manhattan protesting 2023 budget for lack of affordable housing support) Arrestan a 14 en Manhattan durante protesta para que se incluyan planes de viviendas asequibles en el presupuesto 2023 (El
421-A TAX GIVEAWAY
Suzannah Cavanaugh: Housing Rights Initiative generates lawsuits against two more landlords who flouted rent stabilization rules under the 421-a tax giveaway (The Real Deal)
Judith Goldiner, Zellnor Myrie & Linda Rosenthal: The proposed replacement for 421-a is an expensive subsidy for luxury developers (Crain's Opinion)
Matthew Haag & Mihir Zaveri: Will ending the lucrative 421-a tax break ease or fuel the NYC housing crisis? (New York Times) - only 44 deeply affordable apts since 2014!
Ross Barkan: Kathy Hochul's terrible tax giveaway (Political Currents)
RIGHT TO COUNSEL - Swamped
Shant Shahrigian: As evictions pile up, many NYC tenants are not getting lawyers despite right to counsel law (Daily News)
Saturday, March 19, 2022
GOOD CAUSE EVICTION
Patrick Moussignac: Rochester City Council rejects eviction reduction law (WHEC-TV) (VIDEO)
Eriketa Cost: Rochester City Council votes against good cause eviction law (Rochester First) (VIDEO)
Amal Elhelw: Rochester tenant facing eviction grapples with failure of good cause bill (Rochester First) (VIDEO)
KIngston Wire editorial: Good cause to evict Michelle Hinchey from the state senate?
Briana Supardi: Feds give New York nearly $120 million in rent relief funds, a fraction of what Hochul requested (WRGB)
WABC-TV: 1.5 NY households behind in utility payments; advocates call for relief in state budget (VIDEO)
Nick Reisman: Senate, Assembly lay out priorities in one-house budget bills, setting stage for negotiations with governor (NY State of Politics)
David Brand: Albany lawmakers proposed new Section 8-style rent subsidy using state funds (City Limits)
ELECTIONS / CANDIDATES
Nick Garber: Tenant advocate Delsenia Glover challenges pro-landlord Harlem Assembly incumbent Inez Dickens (Patch)
Denis Slattery: Ana Maria Archila gets progressive backing in lieutenant governor bid (Daily News)
Ross Barkan: New York's race for lieutenant governor has a new addition: competition (The Nation)
Michael Gartland: Jumaane Williams rolls out "Housing for All" platform (Daily News)
Albany Times Union editorial: Legislature should close loophole that allows Cuomo to spend campaign funds as if he were a candidate
ENVIRONMENT AND HOUSING
Nick Reisman: Albany lawmakers want to speed up ban on fossil fuels in construction of new buildings (NY State of Politics)
NYC AND ETHICS
Sally Goldenberg: NYC Mayor Eric Adams undoes de Blasio lobbying disclosure requirement (Politico)
HOUSING CONDITIONS & DEVELOPMENT
The City: Bronx fire survivors say City Hall's new meal provider adds insult to injury
Giavanni Alves: Building at Park Hill complex tops NYC list of Staten Island apartments with most violations (Staten Island Advance)
Kathryn Brenzel: Fight is on for "leaning" Seaport tower after mediation falls apart (The Real Deal)
New York Times: Manhattan's Chinese street signs are disappearing as Chinese population in Chinatown shrinks
Friday, March 4, 2022
As evictions, rent hikes and homelessness rise across the state, our state legislators are sitting in Albany debating solutions WITHOUT us.
So on Wednesday March 9th, we are descending on the state capitol to demand real solutions for renters and homeless New Yorkers.
The legislature and the governor are debating and deciding on next year's state budget right now. And we know that any budget that does not include the right to remain, permanent rental assistance and an end to real estate tax breaks is NOT a budget for the people.
Get on the bus to Albany next Wednesday to demand Good Cause Eviction, the Housing Access Voucher Program and an end to real estate tax breaks!
Fill out this form and we will connect you to the nearest bus pick up and arrange transportation and lunch for the day. We will require proof of vaccination to board the bus.
Our elected officials need to feel our presence in the halls of the state capitol in order to do the right thing. Join hundreds of renters and homeless New Yorkers at the capitol on Wednesday!