Testimony of Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner Submitted to the Rent Guidelines Board - June 16, 2016

Hello Chairperson Hon. Kathleen A. Roberts and members of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, I am Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner and I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you this evening as you convene in my district. By way of background, there are more than 33,000 apartments under rent regulation in my district, which is the equivalent of nearly three-quarters of my constituents. So as you can well understand, the decisions made by the Board will have a dramatic impact upon the affordability of housing for the vast majority of my constituents.

In my district, the latest available data indicates that the median household income is $26,436 – one of the lowest median household incomes of any district in New York City. As a direct consequence, the 77th Assembly District is also one of the most rent burdened communities in New York.

The Rent Guidelines Board’s proposal increase rents for rent-stabilized apartments by up to 2 percent for one-year leases, and up to 3.5% for two-year leases will destabilize the already precarious finances of countless families in my community and almost certainly push a significant number of those families into homelessness.

I would urge all board members to do better than that.

Last year, you made history by supporting an unprecedented decision to freeze rents for families in rent-stabilized apartments. This year I urge you go even further toward offering relief for New York’s working and low-income families. A rent rollback would support working families – the real backbone of our community in the Bronx – and ensure that families never have to choose between putting food on the table and paying your monthly bills.

Please keep in mind when considering a rent rollback that – even without a rent increase – landlords are allowed to raise rent under numerous circumstances such as when Major Capital Improvements and Individual Apartment Improvements are performed or through the vacancy bonus when apartments turnover. The Community Service Society found that the vacancy bonus was responsible for almost half of the total increase in rent in 2014.

On behalf of the more than 125,000 residents of the 77th Assembly District, which includes areas of Morris Heights, Mount Eden, Highbridge, Claremont and Concourse East, I urge that the Rent Guidelines Board hear their concerns when voting on June 27, and give them a rent rollback.

As always, I look forward to working with the Rent Guidelines Board. Housing costs must remain affordable so that our families remain in our communities; they should not have to worry about being priced out of their homes.

Thank you.