New York must seize this unique opportunity

June 6, 2023 Special from Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
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We are writing to express our strong support for legislation that would make tens of thousands of vacant rent-stabilized apartments available to tenants, prevent future vacancies, and ensure the state is not burdened with a multi-billion dollar cost.

The Local Regulated Housing Restoration Adjustment (A6772/S6352), introduced by Assemblymember Burgos and Senator Comrie, creates a program in which the NYS Department of Housing and Community Renewal would allow owners to recoup the costs of renovating vacant rent-stabilized units, allowing this critical affordable housing stock to quickly become available, while keeping units rent-stabilized at the same rates as comparable rent-stabilized units in their area.

The maintenance of affordable housing, particularly rent-stabilized housing, is essential for the economic well-being of New York. Rent-stabilized apartments provide much-needed workforce housing, enabling workers to live close to workplaces and for businesses to hire locally. With around 30,000 apartments currently vacant, and another 100,000 at risk of becoming vacant, tens of thousands of workers may no longer be able to afford to live in New York.

As rent-stabilized apartments are disproportionately located near dense commercial districts, such as central business districts, they provide essential foot traffic for retail establishments. In an era of increased work-from-home, tenants in rent-stabilized apartments ensure commercial districts remain vibrant and economically healthy.

They shop in stores and eat in restaurants which have seen their foot traffic reduced significantly by a loss of office workers. These tenants also serve as “eyes on the street” to keep commercial districts safe.

With post-Covid budget tightening, neither the state nor the city has the funds adequate to solve this multi-billion dollar problem. Therefore, to immediately address this crisis, we must allow building owners to pay for the costs of renovations. Doing so will create around 30,000 new rent-stabilized apartments and protect another 100,000 from being lost in the coming years. This bill will allow the state to fund other essential services necessary to keep New Yorkers safe and our economy vibrant.

We must seize this unique opportunity to create tens of thousands of new rent-stabilized apartments. We urge you to ensure its passage immediately so that New Yorkers can start benefiting from this influx of affordable housing right away.

Randy Peers is the President & CEO of Brooklyn Chamber; Tom Grech is the President & CEO of the Queen’s Chamber of Commerce; Lisa Sorin is the President of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce; and Jessica Walker is the President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

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