For Immediate Release: June 12th, 2023
NYC-DSA condemns legislature for failure to pass tenant protections
We’re in a housing crisis! NYC-DSA condemns Carl Heastie and Andrea Stewart-Cousins for blocking tenant protections in the 2023 legislative session.
Landlords have been hiking rents by as much as 30, 50, and even 100%. Tenants are afraid to raise concerns about unsafe living conditions and basic repairs. We’re hesitant to push back against abusive landlords because we’re afraid our leases won’t be renewed. This year, we fought for some basic protections against exploitative landlords; we pushed the legislature to pass Good Cause Eviction—a bill that would provide tenants with the right to renew their lease and would require landlords to justify extraordinary rent increases. Good Cause would stop evictions solely intended for rent gouging: our apartments are our homes, not a replaceable commodity. Yet, while we fought all year, Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins held the line for their landlord donors: forcing even more tenants into crisis.
We showed up with other tenants again and again to fight for this legislation: canvassing our neighbors, filling the Brooklyn Bridge in the pouring rain, and shutting down legislative buildings in Albany. Inside the legislature, socialists in office fought relentlessly for the bill. Because of this public pressure, leadership of both Houses stated publicly that passing Good Cause Eviction was a priority and a necessity this session. But leadership’s public platitudes didn’t include action; instead they blocked critical tenant protections.
The leaders weren’t alone. The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)—an extremely organized and influential lobby that pushes for legislation that prioritizes their profits at the cost of public good—worked with establishment politicians (REBNY-money recipients, many of whom are landlords themselves) to tank this legislation. They used tactics to divide us and weaken the legislation: creating false separation between upstate and downstate tenants and building in carve-outs for so-called “small” landlords.
However, tenants continued to fight, and the legislation was close to passing until Governor Kathy Hochul—who said housing was her priority—threatened a veto. Rather than dare Hochul to veto a bill that would reveal her to be an enemy of tens of thousands of working people, legislative leadership Carl Heastie and Andrea Stewart-Cousins let the housing package collapse in a pathetic display. The political leadership of New York State is to blame for the worsening rent, eviction, and homelessness crises we know will follow.
We deserve more than the failures of political leadership. We deserve more than to have our homes bought and sold to the highest bidder. We deserve to put down roots, to build our neighborhoods, to stay in our homes. We deserve to organize for repairs and improvements; to live in truly affordable and livable housing that we control. The market has failed us. But the path forward is clear: we, working-class people, will continue to come together in our buildings, at the polls, and on the streets to fight for the homes we deserve.
Join us in fighting for this better future:
- Show up for your fellow tenants at the Rent Guidelines Board hearing on June 15th to prevent rent hikes on rent-stabilized renters across the city.
- Learn how to organize your building and your neighborhood at DSA’s quarterly citywide tenant organizing training on Sunday, June 25 with DSA’s Independent Working Class Organizing initiative.
- Attend the Housing Working Group Meeting on Monday, June 19th, 7pm at the NYC-DSA Office 14 Jefferson St, Manhattan. Join us to debrief our legislative campaigns and strategize for a summer of tenant organizing.
ABOUT NYC-DSA: New York City Democratic Socialists is the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America—the largest socialist organization in the United States with over 85,000 members. NYC-DSA is run by its 6,000+ members and activists who are working together to build a democratic socialist organization in the five boroughs.