A Bus Trip to Back New Rent Laws

IMG_0158Khristopher J. Brooks The committee is an organizer of the trip.

Leaders of the Cooper Square Committee and the Good Old Lower East Side are organizing a free bus trip to Albany Monday so East Villagers can speak out in favor of changes to New York City rent laws.

“We’re planning to have a rally inside the Capitol,” said Georgina Christ, housing chairperson for Cooper Square Committee. “We’re just gonna make noise and try to talk to the elected officials.”

At issue is how and at what rate landlords will be allowed to raise rent in future years. Rent prices are a particularly hot-button issue for locals since the East Village is the home of some of the city’s most expensive rental properties.

As the law stands, Ms. Christ said, landlords are allowed to dramatically raise the rent of a property after a tenant has moved out, a practice known as “vacancy decontrol” that prevents future tenants from paying the same price for rent. Wasim Lone, the housing services director for Good Old Lower East Side, said vacancy decontrol is responsible for tens of thousands of vacant units around the East Village and the Lower East Side.

“So we’re out to put the pressure on the governor and on the senate and on the Democrats to repeal this part of the law,” Mr. Lone said.

The rent laws that govern New York City expire June 15 and it’s likely that state lawmakers will renew those laws. However, Mr. Lone and Ms. Christ said they would like the laws tweaked to better benefit tenants.

“If they renew the rent laws as is and do not strengthen the rules, we will continue to lose affordable units throughout the city,” Ms. Christ said.

The bus departs at 8 a.m. June 13 at the corner of First Street and First Avenue. The East Village bus will join seven other buses from the Upper West Side, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, Ms. Christ said. The buses will return to New York City later that night.

The Local will board the bus leaving from First Street and First Avenue Monday morning and will provide updates on the demonstration throughout the day.