The Real Deal New York

New rent board members seen as tenant-friendly

Appointees expected to push for more modest rate hikes
March 27, 2014 01:23PM

Mayor Bill de Blasio named four new appointees to the city’s nine-member Rent Guidelines Board this morning, bringing new blood to the body tasked with determining the rate of increases for tenants of rent-stabilized units.

Sarah Williams Willard will serve as a representative for owners of rent-stabilized properties, while Cecelia Joza and Steven Flax will serve as public members of the board, the New York Observer reported. Sheila Garcia will serve as a tenant representative, as will Harvey Epstein, the only member of the group to be re-appointed to the position.

The new members are expected to slow the pace of rent hikes that existed under the Bloomberg administration, according to the Observer. Joza and Garcia both currently work with affordable housing nonprofits, while Flax is vice president of community reinvestment at M&T Bank.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who promised on the campaign trail to pursue a rent freeze, is responsible for appointing members to the panel — five of which he can pick before the vote on rent rates occurs, likely in June. Last year the board allowed increases of up to 4 percent for one-year lease renewals and up to 7.75 percent for two-year lease – the largest hike since 2008.

A spokesperson for the mayor told the Observer that the administration sought “balanced candidates who understand the needs of low- and moderate-income tenants,” and plans “to undertake an ambitious agenda that confronts the affordability crisis facing the city’s tenants.” [NYO]Julie Strickland