The Legislature Can Solve the Housing Affordability Crisis

The Legislature Can Solve the Housing Affordability Crisis

It’s Time to Expand the City’s Existing Rent Freeze Programs
By RSA
May 8, 2019

If the Legislature expanded existing rent freeze programs to insulate low-income rent stabilized tenants from rent increases, the housing affordability crisis in the City would be addressed in a meaningful manner. Instead, with the rent laws up for renewal in June, the Legislature seems more intent on using landlords as scapegoats rather than coming up with real solutions to this very real problem.

The Legislature should pass legislation to create the Tenant Rent Increase Exemption (TRIE) program. TRIE would freeze rents for ALL stabilized tenants whose household incomes are less than $50,000 per year and who pay more than 50% of their income for rent. Any rent increases that would otherwise be payable by the tenants would be paid to landlords by the City in the form of property tax credits.

TRIE is not a new idea. TRIE would be similar to the long-existing SCRIE and DRIE rent freeze programs, which already protect over 72,000 stabilized tenants from rent increases, at a current annual cost of $176.8 million.

Who does TRIE benefit? Approximately 200,000 stabilized tenants- 20% of all stabilized apartments- would be eligible for TRIE. TRIE is a subsidy for tenants, enabling them to remain in their apartments.

TRIE is affordable. Based upon the participation rates in those programs, 46% of the total number of eligible tenants are likely to apply and receive the subsidy. At that rate, the anticipated cost in year one would be $14 million, increasing to $72 million in year five. By comparison, in FY ’17, the City spent $250 million for “one shot” emergency rental assistance grants for over 53,000 tenants, in addition to the billions spent to house the homeless.

The TRIE legislation is not new. The State Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed this legislation TWICE- in 2015 and again in 2016. Shockingly, TRIE was never put to a vote in the Assembly. Equally shocking, many of the members of the Assembly who, in fact, sponsored the TRIE bill at that time, now seem to have a case of collective amnesia about TRIE. Instead of a groundswell of support, we hear only silence.

TRIE, like SCRIE and DRIE, would be targeted to benefit those most in need. And, rather than spending BILLIONS of dollars to help tenants after they face eviction or become homeless, TRIE would keep them in their homes. After all, isn’t that everyone’s goal?

It is time for the Legislature to put aside the politics of division and enact a time-tested, effective solution which gives a rent freeze to stabilized low-income tenants while enabling owners to continue to maintain and improve their buildings.

It is time for the Legislature to enact TRIE.

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RSA (Rent Stabilization Association) We House New York
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Rent Stabilization Association (RSA) We House New York
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RSA
Rent Stabilization Association
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