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New Report Shows Loss of Affordable Housing in City

By Julie Shapiro | March 14, 2011 9:56am
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, shown here in 2008, unveiled a report on affordable housing Sunday.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, shown here in 2008, unveiled a report on affordable housing Sunday.
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Daniel Barry/Getty Images

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

LOWER MANHATTAN — New York City is losing affordable housing at an alarming rate and needs new laws to protect what's left, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Sunday.

Silver stood with tenants and other political officials on the steps of City Hall to unveil a report called "The New Housing Emergency," which shows that the city is losing more than 10,000 rent-protected apartments each year.

"If we do not act quickly to extend our rent laws, millions of working New Yorkers could lose their homes," Silver said.

The state's current rent laws expire June 15 and must be renewed before then to protect the city's 1.02 million rent-regulated apartments, Silver said.

But Silver said the state needs to go one step further and strengthen the existing laws, making it harder for landlords to deregulate apartments. The current laws allow landlords to increase the rent when an apartment becomes vacant or when landlords make major improvements to the building.

"We must close the loopholes identified in this report that cost our neighborhoods thousands of affordable homes each year and which threaten to turn New York into a city without a middle-class," Silver said.

The 14-page report, by the Community Service Society of New York, shows that Manhattan tenants have been severely affected by the loss of affordable housing.

In 2001, 52 percent of people who moved in Manhattan south of Harlem found a rent-regulated apartment. By 2007, just 31 percent found a rent-regulated apartment, the report said.

In Harlem and northern Manhattan, the number fell from 81 percent in 2001 to 67 percent in 2007, according to the report.

Silver voiced strong support Sunday for an Assembly bill that would begin to reverse the loss of affordable housing by repealing vacancy decontrol, reducing the amount of extra rent a landlord can charge after making improvements and giving the city more control over rent laws.

With Silver's support, the new legislation is all but guaranteed to pass the Assembly. However, it will likely face a tougher battle in the Republican-controlled State Senate.