June 12, 2019

MinKwon Center Responds to Assembly, Senate Agreement of Rent Reform Bills

Flushing, NY — On Tuesday, June 11, 2019, the New York State Assembly and Senate agreed to a series of rent reform bills that, when passed, would be the most significant win to New York tenants in decades, and a major blow to developers. Seven of the nine bills introduced under the Universal Rent Control platform are slated to a vote, either in their original form or in modified proposals. The bills will abolish several loopholes that predatory landlords have regularly exploited to hike up rents and evict tenants, including vacancy decontrol, which allows landlords to take apartments out of rent-regulated status when the rent price reaches a certain threshold; and vacancy bonus, which allows landlords to raise rents by up to 20 percent whenever a tenant moves out of a rent-regulated apartment, financially incentivizing landlords to get rid of their tenants. The bills will also limit security deposits to be no more than one month's worth of rent, and provide tenants in eviction court more time to find a housing lawyer, address lease violations, and pay overdue rent. Once passed, New York governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the seven bills into law.

 

The MinKwon Center for Community Action joins Housing Justice for All campaign to celebrate this partial victory for tenant rights. The passage of these seven bills would not have been possible without the thousands of tenants who mobilized their neighbors to Albany throughout the 2019 legislative year and advocate for Universal Rent Control. We acknowledge that this is not a complete win for tenants, as several major bills have not been agreed, including the "Good-Cause Eviction" bill which would have made it significantly harder for landlords to evict tenants out of market-rate apartments. This is a major turning point for tenants to continue advocating for housing justice.

 

"The agreement of seven of the nine bills that tenants have been fighting for is a major victory for our communities," said John Park, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. "Immigrant, low-income and senior tenants have been hit the hardest by these loopholes, but we are supporting their right to housing by agreeing to these bills. We should consider this moment to be a milestone for housing justice, but not an end to the struggle -- I urge tenants to continue organizing their neighbors and advocating for greater tenant protections."


"Thousands of tenants including the Korean and Asian American immigrant communities have been pushing hard to make this historic change in our rent laws," said Seonae Byeon, Housing Organizer at the MinKwon Center. "This victory should fuel us to move forward to achieve holistic housing justice and prevent gentrification. Many limited English-proficient tenants are still at risk of being evicted for lack of awareness on the rent laws and their rights. Our community should be well-informed and empowered to organize. The work of protecting our community should not be isolated to a few housing organizations and activists -- everyone should participate and play a role. We have to become a united movement for housing justice across languages, culture, and ethnicity."


"The Senate and the Assembly have come together with a proposal to confront decades of injustice caused by inadequate tenants' rights in New York State. Housing Justice for All is proud to stand with the State Legislature as it takes meaningful steps forward to end tenant harassment, displacement, destabilization due to rising rents. This bill is affirmation of the strength of the statewide movement that we are building together," said Cea Weaver, Campaign Coordinator of the Housing Justice for All campaign. "We can proudly say that after so many years of fighting relentlessly to ensure all New York renters get the stability they need, the tenant movement is taking back the protections we lost as a result of decades of Republican and real estate control in Albany. We are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign this proposal which would provide stability and organizing power to millions of renters and manufactured home residents across our State."


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