In February 2005, a broad coalition of unions, clergy, community organizations and advocates launched Housing Here and Now, a citywide effort to ensure creation and preservation of decent affordable housing for all poor, working and middle-class New Yorkers. Our initial goal -- much of which we achieved --weas to win commitment from the Mayor to keep the Battery Park City promise to use funds for affordable housing, to provide permanent housing for homeless people living with AIDS, to build support for stronger state rent laws, and to improve housing maintenance code enforcement. In our second and third years, we built on our early wins by taking on reform of the City’s 421a luxury tax break program and challenging irresponsible multifamily lending. Now we are in the midst of our biggest effort to date: a campaign to strengthen our state’s rent laws and repeal vacancy decontrol.
New York City is a renter city: two-thirds of its housing units are rentals. But our stock of low-rent housing is rapidly shrinking. We are projected to lose nearly 140,000 rent-regulated units to high-rent vacancy decontrol between now and 2015 – and this is just one of several mechanisms by which we are losing affordable units. The loss of low-rent housing units is most devastating for already-vulnerable populations: immigrants, people of color, the poor and near-poor, and single women. According to the 2006 American Community Survey, female headed renter households were far more likely to live in poverty than either female headed owner households or male headed renter households. Of 437,790 impoverished households in the New York City area, 223,159 were female headed renter households; only 23,230 were female headed owner households and 29,674 were male headed renter households.