URBAN AGENDA: Gentrification, Rising Rents and the City’s Changing Housing Landscape

David R. Jones | 5/19/2016, 3:34 p.m.
This is interesting, but probably not very surprising: according to a report released last week, the black population in the ...

Another factor contributing to the increase is the spread of “preferential rent” leases, which specify a preferential rent to be paid during the term of the lease along with a higher registered rent which can become the basis for the rent charged upon lease renewal. This provision undermines the protection of rent stabilization by allowing large increases from the preferential rent to the registered rent at the conclusion of the lease term. And those increases in rent are compounded further by any increase allowed under the Rent Guidelines Board.

One million low-income New Yorkers live in regulated apartments

Rent regulated apartments are the largest source of housing for more than one million low-income households in New York. But since 2002, rents in the city have risen faster than incomes. For the bottom 20 percent of the population, rents have risen 30 percent faster than income. As a result, the median amount of income that low-income tenants in the private unsubsidized market retain after paying rent was eight percent lower in 2014 than it was in 2005, after adjusting for inflation.

If we are to preserve this city as a place where people with a range of incomes can live and raise their families, then we must close loopholes in the state rent laws that permit deregulation and excessive rent increases to displace families and weaken our rent stabilization system. And that means putting pressure on Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to strengthen rent protections for New Yorkers by eliminating the vacancy allowance and preferential rents.

David R. Jones, Esq., is President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York (CSS), the leading voice on behalf of low-income New Yorkers for 170 years. The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. The Urban Agenda is available on CSS’s website: www.cssny.org.