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Board Backs State Efforts to Keep Rents Affordable

Affordable Housing


White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators is lending its support to measures pending in Albany to keep rents affordable in New York, and to protect renters from being pushed out of their homes when landlords want to raise rents.

By a bi-partisan vote of 14-1, on Monday night, the Board passed a resolution backing several state bills to extend and strengthen rent control under the Emergency Tenant’s Protection Act (EPTA). Twenty-one municipalities in Westchester have opted into ETPA, which allows rent control on certain housing units.

Among the changes being backed by the Board is one that would end the practice that allows landlords to raise rents for rent-controlled apartments by as much as 20 percent when new tenants move into units. Another would end the practice of "vacancy decontrol" of such apartments -- which allows landlords to convert rent-stabilized units to market-rate units once the apartments have become vacant and the rent has hit a certain threshold.

The Board resolution also supports a measure to keep landlords from using the cost of major repairs to raise rents permanently. Rent increases could be used to pay for these repairs only until the actual repair costs are recouped.

Another measure, unrelated to the ETPA, would prohibit evictions and non-renewals of leases without good cause.

Resolution co-sponsor Legislator Christopher Johnson (D – Yonkers) said, “Housing affordability is a crisis in our communities. We need to do what we can to keep rental housing available and affordable in order to help people stay in their homes; these bills do that. These state measures will insure that most rent-controlled apartments stay rent-controlled, remove market incentives landlords have to push people out of apartments in order to raise rents, and they will make it impossible for people to be evicted just because a landlord wants to clear out an apartment just to raise the rent. These long overdue changes to the state's rent laws will mean more affordable housing for more people, and less fear and worry about what will happen when people’s leases are up.”


Another resolution co-sponsor, Catherine Borgia (D - Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill) said, “Housing costs continue to skyrocket and not just for homeowners. Renters, especially in our area, face an increasing burden, as more and more of their income has to go to rent. We whole-heartedly support the state's effort to keep housing affordable by extending rent stabilization laws, and to protect tenants from imbalances in the current system that, without these changes, will continue to give landlords financial motives to move out long-standing tenants.”

Board Chair Ben Boykin (D – White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, “Stable, affordable housing is essential to a sustainable quality of life for the people of Westchester County. These changes being considered by the state will keep people in their homes and help preserve the affordability of rental housing in Westchester and throughout New York, something that is sorely needed.”

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