Friday, April 13, 2007

Affordable Housing on the Agenda in Albany

The state legislature starts up again next week after a two-week post-budget vacation. Lower Hudson Online kicks things off with a rundown of legislation likely to be addressed in the remainder of the session. Affordable housing is on the agenda:
Rent regulation: The law that controls rents for several hundred thousand apartments, mostly in New York City but also some in Westchester and Nassau counties, expires at the end of May. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he wants to raise the limit of $2,000 a month, above which controls on rents are removed.

"Two thousand dollars a month does not now pay for a luxury apartment," Silver, D-Manhattan, said of rapidly rising rents in the city.

But landlords are sure to resist any attempt to change that cap, which has been reducing the number of apartments where rents are limited during the past few years.

And not a moment to soon. A rent affordability report (pdf) from the New York City Rent Guideline Board (via Empire Zone) had this to say:
household income for rent stabilized tenants declined in real terms by 8.6% between 2001 and 2004, remaining at a nominal $32,000 for both years . . . In addition, evictions and possessions rose almost 8% in 2006, as well as an increase in the proportion of calendared cases that resulted in eviction, the highest level in nine years.
. . .
half of all households residing in rental housing pay more than 31.2% of their income in gross rent, and half pay less. Furthermore, more than a quarter (28.8%) of rental households pay more than 50% of their household income in gross rent. Generally, housing is considered affordable when a household pays no more than 30% of their income in rent.

Speaker Silver is right that we need to do something about rent stabilization and vacancy decontrol. The time has come for an ambitious approach to affordable housing. Read the New York Is Our Home approach and then come to one of our upcoming Affordable Housing Borough Meetings.

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