Rent hikes foreshadow more financial trouble for low-income New Yorkers


Informed Images | Flickr

Tahreem Ashraf

Rent-stabilized apartments have provided crucial housing for millions of New Yorkers for years.

The city’s Rent Guidelines Board approved an increase in rent by 3.25% for one-year leases in rent-stabilized apartments and 5% on two-year leases on June 21.

The decision will likely increase the cost of living for underserved and low-income residents, many of whom are still recovering from virulent financial hardship exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Your decision will result in millions of people suffering while corporations and investors continue to profit,” board member Adán Soltren said. Soltren voted against the increase, referring to the outcome of the vote as “unjust.”

The rent hike, which goes into effect Oct. 1, will have a detrimental impact on the families living in the over 2 million rent stabilized apartments across the city.

Tenants suffering from inflation rallied outside of a Rent Guidelines Board hearing in the Bronx on June 15. Dozens also gathered and protested outside of Cooper Union, where the vote was held on Tuesday, to demand a rent freeze.

“This is bringing average people with average income down to poverty and below, because now, with a paycheck, I cannot even buy food to eat. I’m trying to make the rent work and it’s not,” Bronx resident Christina Garmendiz told Gothamist.

Sheila Garcia, a member of the RGB, also disapproved of the board’s rent hike, emphasizing residents will be more vulnerable to unjust landlords.

“Rent increases do not translate to better conditions for tenants; it does not translate to better living for tenants,” Garciasaid. “It does not translate to more stable housing for tenants. It just means landlords can do a little bit more, of whatever they want to do, including purchasing buildings.”

Mayor Eric Adams took a middle-of-the-road stance on the matter by acknowledging that though the outcome might be disappointing for tenants, a rent hike is necessary for small landlords.

“This system is broken, and we cannot pit landlords against tenants as winners and losers every year,” Adams said in a news release. “It’s also why I will be fighting in Albany for additional support for tenants who are at risk of missing rent payments and landlords who are struggling to maintain and upgrade their buildings.”

Tenants are already dealing with financial pressures such as soaring prices of food, clothing, education and more.

The RGB’s decision is not the answer to the housing crisis. A looming rent increase will only further burden underserved communities, whose woes have only been worsened by the pandemic.