News, commentary and analysis by leaders of the Communist Party USA in New York State. We discuss State politics and issues in New York City, covering developments in labor, civil rights education, housing and more.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rents Go Up...Again

The New York City Rent Guidelines Board met Jun 26 for its final deliberations and vote for 2007. The Board composed of nine members appointed by the Mayor, meets annually holding hearing through the Spring in each borough of the city, culminating in a final decision on how much if any rent increase will be allowed for the city’s approximately 1 million units covered by rent control and rent stabilization, including apartments, lofts and Single Room Occupancy hotels.

The hearing was held in the Great Hall of Cooper Union and drew more than 200 tenants who will be affected by the Board’s decisions. Waiving signs calling for 0% increase, chanting slogans and singing songs about Board Chair Marvin “Markup” Markus, tenants showed their frustration with annual increases in rent despite breaks for landlords such as the recent tax breaks approved in the City Budget just days ago. There is not such tax break for tenants in the final version of the budget.

A press conference held before the hearing gave Mayor Michael Bloomberg a “F” for his policies on affordable housing. “You need to report to Summer School,” said one speaker. The mayor did not attend the hearing, but City Councilmember Robert Jackson did, handing out copies of his appeal to the Board to vote for no increase. “Please consider what even a 2% increase will mean to these families,” read his statement.

Despite the overwhelming opposition to the increase by hearing attendees and other advocates, the Board eventually adopted yet another increase, the 40th straight year they have done so. The final decision in a 5-4 vote was for a 3% increase for a one-year lease and 5.75% increase for a two-year lease on apartments. Similar increases were adopted for SROs and lofts. Advocates believe that the small premium on two-year leases will also encourage shorter renewals and higher renter turnover.

While rents were hiked, they did not go up as much as recent years' increases. This is no doubt do to increased awareness of housing issues in the city, and outspoken public pressure.

“Tenants continue to shoulder the burden,” said Adriene Holder before the final vote. Holder is one of the two tenant representatives on the Board of nine members. “The Rent Guidelines Board is part of the problem. And I am so embarrassed to be a part of the problem.” Holder and the other tenant representative voted no to the increase. The two owner representatives voted no as well, apparently because they believe the increase is too small.”

The rent increases are effective from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Welcome to our New Weblog!

The New York State Communist Party is glad to announce its new weblog. We hope to use this venue to give our thoughts and opinions on various political, social and cultural developments in New York State. To begin with, we will have a general blog on all topics and areas, but hope to develop specific blogs for different areas of the State in which we work as well as topic specific blogs on the trade union movement, housing, etc. Periodically we will repost articles from the People's Weekly World newspaper on New York State developments.

We are the district organization of the Communist Party, USA, a working-class political party rooted in the struggles of the American people for peace, jobs, equality and socialism. We believe that the only lasting solution to poverty, oppression, environmental destruction, and war is a society based on the needs of working people, a Socialist USA.

We welcome our ideas, comments and questions, and hope you spread the word. In the next weeks and months, bear with us as we develop the look and feel of the blog. Your suggestions in this regard are encouraged.

Lastly, if you need to reach the New York State Communist Party, please email or call us at 212-924-0550. And don't forget to sign up for our weekly electronic newsletter by entering your email address in the right-hand column and clicking the button.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Libero Della Piana
State Chair
New York State Communist Party