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New York tenants march across Brooklyn Bridge in support of rent control renewal

May 15, 2015 By Deepti Hajela Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Protestors march across the Brooklyn Bridge at to call on the state legislature to strengthen rent laws this year on Thursday. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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A crowd of residential tenants and elected officials rallied Thursday and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to show their support for the laws governing the city’s longstanding rent control rules.

The event came as state lawmakers in Albany prepare to decide whether to renew, weaken or strengthen the rent regulations, which expire next month. Lawmakers could vote to simply renew the law, or they could make changes that modify the rules, which regulate the rents paid by more than 2 million tenants in 1 million units within the city.

Supporters say the rules ensure the city remains affordable to people of different incomes.

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“Working-class New Yorkers should not be living in a state of fear that they will be unable to afford their rent,” Public Advocate Letitia James told the crowd of several hundred people.

She was joined at the rally by a number of local and state elected officials.

Demonstrators carried signs saying “Housing is a human right” and “Stop the deregulation tidal wave.”

But landlords say the rules unfairly restrict their business and can lead to higher rents on unregulated apartments.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, has said that protecting tenants is a top priority for Democrats. Republican Senate Leader John Flanagan, of Long Island, said it’s one of the top issues confronting lawmakers as they work toward the end of their session next month.

“I am pretty confident there will be some renewal,” Flanagan said Wednesday. “As to the details, I have not had any of those discussions. It obviously is a critical issue.”

At the rally, Dave Kotelchuck, a retired professor, said if people in rent-stabilized apartments were forced out, it would be very difficult for them to find other places to live.

“The landlords have written the rent laws for New York City for decades,” he said. “It has to stop.”

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