Despite a Supreme Court challenge Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill to declare a formal state of emergency in New York City with regard to housing, allowing him to extend rent regulations for another three years, the New York Times reported.
The mayor cited a citywide residential vacancy rate of 3.5 percent as the reason for the extension, at a ceremony this week where he signed the bill. Legally, rent regulations must be terminated if a citywide vacancy rate higher than 5 percent exists.
Rent control and rent stabilization programs have been in place in New York City since 1969, and restrict either the price of a rented apartment or limit the increases in rent.
The decision had its detractors. James Harmon, who is the plaintiff in the Supreme Court challenge, said that by definition an emergency cannot last forever. “We believe that the Constitution gives us the freedom to decide who lives in our own home,” he told the Times. “The mayor is free to think otherwise.”
But there were also staunch supporters of rent control policy. “There are not enough affordable apartments available,” said State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, who represents Manhattan. “We have to keep the system we have and try to make improvements in order to keep New York an option.” [NYT]