Public Advocate and Democratic candidate for Governor of New York Jumaane Williams, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor Ana María Archila, and many New York City Council members joined hundreds of tenants on Friday for a march demanding state lawmakers pass “Good Cause” eviction protections before the legislative session ends on June 2.
Tenants marched from Foley Square to the offices of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, where they strung garlands of keys to symbolize the thousands of keys taken from families who have been evicted from their homes.
According to Housing Justice for All, both Heastie and Stewart-Cousins are yet to publicly support the legislation.
Tenants were joined by Council Members Sandy Nurse, Lincoln Restler, Chi Ossé, Alexa Aviles, Shekar Krishnan, Julie Won and Crystal Hudson, as well as Assemblymembers Marcela Mitaynes and Deborah Glick.
Housing Justice for All said in a statement that evictions in New York have surged back to pre-pandemic levels after the expiration of the state’s eviction moratorium in January, to the point that there are no lawyers left to represent low-income tenants.
Meanwhile, rents are spiking in cities across New York State, Housing Justice for All said.
In New York City alone, it said rents have increased a whopping 33 percent over the past year.
Housing Justice for all said The Good Cause bill (S3082/A5573) would empower tenants to challenge exorbitant rent increases and unjust evictions in court.
The law would require landlords to justify rent increases greater than 3 percent or 150 percent of the Consumer Price Index (whichever is larger) and let tenants fight the increases in court if a landlord attempted to evict a tenant for not paying the new, higher rent.
“If a landlord wants to deny a lease renewal, they would need to be prepared to justify the decision before a judge,” said Housing Justice for All, stating that the legislation would prevent arbitrary evictions for half of all renters in New York State, and as many as 75 percent of tenants in some counties.
Housing Justice for All said support for the Good Cause bill has been surging, with more than a thousand tenants descending on Albany last week to call for the legislation.
A Data for Progress poll released Monday showed that two-thirds of likely voters in New York State back Good Cause, with more than 60 percent of likely voters supporting the bill in every region of the state, including conservative and moderate-leaning regions like Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
“With less than a week left in this year’s legislative session, New Yorkers are counting on Albany to provide relief from an onslaught of evictions and rent hikes,” said Cea Weaver, Campaign Coordinator of Housing Justice for All. “We can’t wait for even more working families to lose their homes.
“We need to pass Good Cause now and make sure tenants have the tools they need to fight for safe living conditions and keep a roof over their heads,” Weaver added. “We don’t have a minute to waste.”
“As my neighbors are being thrown out onto the street Albany is sitting on a solution that could keep them in their homes. We need Good Cause Eviction now to stem the already out of control issue of homelessness and stop the wave of evictions that overwhelmed our court system and run the resources out on legal services guaranteed by the city,” Won said. “Waiting on this legislation is inhumane and every day it does not pass is another New Yorker without a home.”
“We are facing an eviction wave that is a threat to Black and Brown tenants all over New York,” Avilés said. “Every single day we serve Red Hook and Sunset Park residents at risk of displacement, whether due to unconscionable rent hikes, appalling conditions or landlords who refuse to renew the lease.
“All renters in the state of New York deserve safe, dignified and stable housing. Good Cause is that simple, and Albany must pass the bill without delay,” she urged.
“In the 37th District alone, I represent about 9,000 renter households who would be granted basic tenants rights under Good Cause eviction,” Nurse said. “Currently, their landlords can raise their rent by an unlimited amount, tenants can’t fight for better conditions without fear of retaliation, and they do not have the right to a renewal lease.
“Good Cause eviction would give tenants a fighting chance to remain in their homes and improve living conditions,” Nurse added. “I urge our State representatives to do what they were put in office to do: Protect people and not landlord profits; empower those who need it most; and above all, help keep people in their homes.”
“We’re fighting to keep Black and brown New Yorkers in their homes and we’re taking a stand against corporate real estate interests unconcerned with the wellbeing of our most vulnerable neighbors,” Hudson said. “In my district alone, we have lost 20 percent of our Black population in 10 years.
“With this critical legislation, we’re taking the necessary first step to guarantee all of our communities – and Black women who are disproportionately impacted by evictions – have the opportunity to live without the threat of being evicted by predatory landlords,” Hudson added. “Good Cause Legislation puts forth a plan for protecting vulnerable tenants. Tenants need this reprieve and it’s our responsibility to make sure it passes.”
“Too many of our neighbors are facing extreme rent hikes,” Restler said. “In an already rent burdened City, it’s only adding to the growing population of New Yorkers who are struggling to make ends meet.
“We need to pass Good Cause Eviction to make these obscene rent increases illegal and protect tenants from arbitrary eviction,” he added.
“Housing is a human right, but that won’t be a reality in New York State until Good Cause Eviction is law. The right to remain in your home is a crucial protection that connects to every other right a person has. The pandemic has shown us firsthand how housing is one of the more urgent crises we face. This is why we need Albany to act urgently and pass Good Cause right away. It is a public health emergency,” said Krishnan said.
“Good Cause is both sensible legislation and a moral necessity. Housing is a human right, and the government has an urgent responsibility to protect the integrity and sanctity of the home. I am proud to stand with Housing Justice for All and my colleagues, as well as the millions of New Yorkers who share this vision of a fair and just New York, and insist on achieving it together,” Ossé said.
“Tenants across the state are struggling to pay rent, and instead of being offered protections they are being faced with evictions. Good Cause Eviction legislation would give tenants the right to remain in their homes and limit rent increases. Yet, Gov. Hochul, who has taken enormous campaign donations from billionaire landlords, has stood in the way of passing the bill, and Lt. Gov. Delgado refused to sign a letter of support when he was in Congress. We need government leaders who will make sure all New Yorkers will defend the best interest of the people, instead of doing the bidding of billionaire landlords and real estate corporations,” Archila said.
“As New York City’s long-standing affordable housing crisis is hit with a tsunami of evictions, an undermined Right to Counsel, and almost no vacant units available for under $1,500 a month, it’s clear that tenants need Good Cause protections. The bill would cover over 700,000 households in New York City, and disproportionately benefit tenants of color, who face housing insecurity. The clock is ticking for the State Legislature and tenants cannot wait any longer,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander.