Friday News Round-up!

Your weekly news round-up from UHAB Organizers!

  1. On Thursday, the Rent Guidelines Board held a hearing to debate rent increases for rent stabilized units. Mayoral candidates Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio and John C. Liu attended the debate and vehemently opposed the increases. Currently, rent stabilized apartments increase 2 percent when tenants sign a one year lease and 4 percent when tenants sign a two year lease. However, the board is now proposing a 3.25 to 6.25 percent increase for a one year lease and a 5 to 9.5 percent increase for a two year lease. At a time when affordable housing in New York City is scarce , such increases would exacerbate the problem. The Board will reconvene next Thursday to vote on these increases. Stay tuned as this story unfolds!
  2. As the mayoral election nears, Housing First, a coalition comprised of 35 affordable housing groups in New York City (including UHAB), is compiling a list of recommendations for the next mayor. Anticipated to be released next Friday, the proposal will outline an eight-year plan to create and preserve an additional 150,000 units of affordable housing.  The plan also includes a new deputy mayor position that would oversee the collaboration of housing and homelessness agencies. As seen with Mayor Bloomberg’s affordable housing plan, this proposal will hopefully have great influence over the next mayor’s strategy to increase the number of affordable housing units in the city.
  3. On Wednesday, a study was published, claiming that CitiGroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo have been violating the terms of the $25B national mortgage settlement that was made last year. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, 2 of the 49 state prosecutors that brokered the deal, have been instrumental in evaluating the banks’ progress and elucidating their shortcomings. The most common problem is “failure to notify homeowners of any missing documents in their modification requests within five days of receipt.” While the report insists that some progress has been made in terms of communication, much has yet to be done in order to fully meet the agreement’s expectations.
  4. Yesterday, the New York State Assembly passed the Women’s Equality Act. Introduced by Governor Cuomo, the bill works to end discrimination and inequality based on gender. The bill’s stipulations include: achieving for pay equity, ending sexual harassment in the workplace, and combatting housing discrimination for survivors of domestic violence. The most contentious part of the bill is the abortion component, which protects women’s freedom to choose. Now, the Senate will debate and vote on the bill, and we shall see how this piece of legislation impacts gender equality in New York state and beyond. For UHAB commentary on the bill, check out this older post.
  5. An “affordable” apartment building in Chelsea, built on NYCHA land and subsidized by a variety of city agencies is now open. Income restrictions are nearly $200,000, and rents for a 2BR are nearly $3,500. Not very affordable if you ask me, or if you ask the New York Observer.

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