What a sensible idea: Progressive politicians are racing to keep rents in rent-stabilized city apartments, even if it hurts both owners and tenants. Why not see if they are motivated by a personal conflict of interest, that is to say their own rent-stabilized apartment?
That’s the goal of a new bill by Councilman Bob Holden (D-Queens) that would require council members to disclose to the Conflict of Interest Commission whether their primary residence is rent-stabilized. The public would then know if they have a horse in the race.
“If my colleagues are going to promote” rent regulation for city housing, “we need to know” whether they personally benefit from it, Holden argues. “It puts a whole new spin on why people are constantly fighting stabilized rent increases,” adds Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island).
As The Post reported on Sunday, the median income of rent-stabilized households in the city is $44,560, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, compared to $67,000 for market-rate units – yet the base salary of city legislators is $148,000, well above that, and way above the salary of “low-income” tenants.
Council members can qualify for subsidized housing because a tenant doesn’t have to be needy – just lucky (or good at playing the system).
Over the years, politicians, celebrities and other wealthy tenants – ex-Rep. Charlie Rangel, actress Mia Farrow, music icon Cindi Lauper and more have hoarded their rent-regulated units. This takes these units away from the market for low-income people looking for apartments.
Meanwhile, landlords are prevented from raising rents enough to afford improvements and sometimes even basic maintenance. This year the city’s rent guidelines board limited rent increases to just 3.25% for one-year leases and 5% for two-year leases – even with inflation then at 8 .6%. And this came after years of Nope increases, or only small.
Such a policy in fact private tenants of units in better condition, and limits the supply of housing when units are completely excluded from the market for lack of funds to improve them.
The system is clearly broken. It’s true that many progressives — on the council, on the rent commission, or in Albany — support below-market rents because they honestly think they’re helping New Yorkers in need. Yet others are content to flatter activists, or perhaps they hope to reduce rents for themselves.
This last information deserves to be known. So kudos to Holden for pushing the bill. Now let’s see if the council adopts it.
New York Post