Less than 24 hours after Albany's Three Men in a Room announced their "framework" for a deal that leaves the city's rent regulations mostly unchanged for the next four years, a crowd of protesters gathered outside Governor Cuomo's Midtown office to voice their outrage and concern for the future.
"I'm exhausted, frustrated, and honestly heartbroken that we supported someone who never really cared," said Gene Corrington, a rent-regulated tenant from Harlem. Corrington recently retired, and her income is a fraction of what it used to be; she worries that the trend towards increased deregulation will push her out of her longtime home.
"Why did Cuomo do all this?" she wondered. "For the love of money?"
Many protesters from advocacy groups such as the Alliance for Tenant Power, the Crown Heights Tenant Union, and the Real Rent Reform Coalition had just returned from Albany late last night after pushing for sweeping reforms—including the repeal of vacancy decontrol—leading up to Cuomo's announcement.
Instead of repealing vacancy decontrol, the "framework" aims to raise the threshold at which landlords can deregulate apartments from $2,500 to $2,700. Tenant advocates estimate that this could deregulate as many as 100,000 rent-regulated apartments over the course of the four-year extension. (Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stressed today that the "framework" is just that, and not a done deal.)
Vaughn Armour, a rent-stabilized resident of Crown Heights for 65 years, called Cuomo's inaction on housing reform a "license to steal" for predatory landlords.
Standing on the picket line, Armour lamented voting for the "governor who went into office a Democrat, but came out a Republican."
Delsenia Glover, a coordinator for the Alliance for Tenant Power and a rent-regulated tenant herself, described the chain reaction that results from the state's unwillingness to stop the loss of affordable apartments in New York City: "When we lose rent regulations, we lose the working class and the middle class, which is how ethnic communities disappear from this city."