Strange bedfellows: Landlords, tenant advocates agree on rent aid legislation

In a bid to ward off greater rent law reforms, landlords are siding with tenant advocates on a bill to assist residents seeking public assistance
May 15, 2019 01:00PM

Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and State Senator Liz Krueger  

Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and State Senator Liz Krueger

Landlords and tenant advocates have found something they can agree on: rent aid.

In a bid to ward off statewide rent-law reforms being floated in Albany, landlords have sided with tenant advocate groups. At least on one thing. They are supporting a bill that would introduce a rent supplement for eligible residents seeking public assistance, or facing eviction.

Currently, eligible residents seeking rental aid can receive a maximum $277 a month for individuals and $400 for families in three of the five boroughs. That reportedly falls well short of the median monthly rent, which was about $1,340 a month in 2017.

Community Housing Improvement Program director Jay Martin

Community Housing Improvement Program director Jay Martin

The new bill, introduced by Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens) and state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), would cover almost the total cost of rent. Landlord advocates, including the Real Estate Board of New York, Community Housing Improvement Program and the Rent Stabilization Association, have all said they support with the bill, alongside tenant advocate groups.

The plan will cost the state $80 million a year, and it’s unclear if it will receive the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

But the new legislation, which was proposed in 2016, would also divert attention from rent laws that expire at the end of the month. Cuomo has reportedly said he favors legislation that would wipe out hefty rent increases and enforce regulation of higher-rent units. [The City] — David Jeans