Hundreds of Brooklynites marched through the streets of Bushwick on Thursday, calling for stronger tenant protections as New Yorkers face ever-climbing rents.
More than 200 renters and students, joined by housing organizers and elected officials, shamed Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state legislature for failing to include the Good Cause eviction protection bill in the recently-passed state budget.
The legislation which would guarantee lease renewals, cap annual rent increases, and prevent eviction without a “good cause,” is more needed than ever in the midst of New York’s housing crisis, according to the activists.
“More and more of our neighbors are facing the same response from landlords, ‘Which is ‘We don’t care about your 20+ years, we do not care about your families — what I care about is my bottom dollar in my pocket,’” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez at the march. “And this governor is supporting those interests.”
According to a recent study by MNS Real Estate, rents in Brooklyn have increased by 13% since last year — the average rental price in the borough in March was a whopping $3,523,88.
Evictions in the city have also been rising steadily since the pandemic-era eviction moratorium expired in January 2022.
Make the Road New York, a nonprofit organization that helped organize the march, estimates that 5 million households in New York lack guaranteed lease renewals – meaning their landlords can raise their rents well above affordable levels at the end of the agreed-upon term.
The march stopped at the homes of two Brooklynites currently on the brink of eviction due to significant rent hikes.
Carmen Leon, who has lived in her apartment for nearly 30 years, said her landlord is planning to raise her rent by $800 — on top of a $500 increase he proposed a few months ago.
“I urge our Albany leaders to put up the Good Cause Eviction bill up for a vote and pass it this legislative session,” Leon said in a statement. “We deserve to be able to stay in our homes and not be at the mercy of bad landlords who raise our rents and force us out onto the streets.”
Her situation is not unique – Blanca Chulunchano, another longtime Bushwick resident, said her landlord wants to raise her rent by $400 per month — pricing her out of her home.
“I don’t have a rental agreement because in New York,” Chulunchano said. “Millions of renters like myself, live in small houses that are unregulated. What is happening to me is also happening to many more tenants across the city and state.”
Since the measure was not included in the budget, activists and lawmakers are now hoping to get Good Cause passed before the end of the legislative session next month.
My team joined hundreds of tenants in Bushwick today to demand tenant protections and march against displacement.
We must deliver solutions for New Yorkers struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Let's get it done this legislative session. pic.twitter.com/Lx0sjJBHVD
— NYS Senator Julia Salazar (@SalazarSenate) May 18, 2023
“We must deliver solutions for New Yorkers struggling to keep a roof over their heads,” said state Sen. Julia Salazar in a Tweet. “Let’s get it done this legislative session.”