With LES Gentrification at Critical Mass, the Time is Now to Pass Universal Rent Control [OP-ED]

Posted on: May 17th, 2019 at 5:05 am by

Bob Angles, a resident living in one of the affordable units of Essex Crossing, penned the following editorial.

Secondary displacement, better known as gentrification, has been creeping up and down our streets for the past decade. Yet, with the arrival of thousands of new, unregulated apartments between the Extell tower (i.e. One Manhattan Square) and Essex Crossing, our working-class community is bordering on extinction.

My wife was one of the initial tenants in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, which meant we were lucky enough to move into one of the new affordable units at Essex Crossing. A handful of our neighbors have been able to secure stable housing in this new construction—but the bigger impact of what it means for our community cannot be overstated.

As property values rise, landlords are incentivized to jack up the rent on their unregulated units and harass regulated tenants out of the neighborhood. The hundreds of Croman tenants, the tenants of 85 Bowery, and hundreds of other neighbors can attest that a glass tower doesn’t need to be built next door in order for its impact to be felt. The socio-economic shift that these towers bring is already taking its toll.

But we have reason to hope. One of the surest ways to stop displacement is by passing a package of nine bills that will codify Universal Rent Control. Both regulated and unregulated apartments alike would gain historic protections from guaranteed lease renewal, to ending landlords’ use of necessary construction to hike rents.

These bills are up against a tight timeline—on June 15 the current rent laws expire. Historically, every time the rent laws are about to end, the real estate industry lobbies our legislators to create more loopholes that displace more tenants. But with the largest Democratic majority in the State Senate in over a century, we have an opportunity to rewrite the laws so that they help combat the pressures we’re facing from over-development and gentrification.

A coalition of tenants from across New York State have rallied together for the past two years to fight for Universal Rent Control. Each of the nine bills have a robust number of sponsors in the Assembly and the Senate, but we need to keep up pressure to make sure more back-door deals aren’t cut. From now until June 15, we need to be calling and emailing our State Assemblymembers and State Senators to let them know we want to end the displacement of our community, and pass all nine bills to enact Universal Rent Control.

Recent Stories

65-Year-Old Man Jumps to His Death from 6th Floor of Seward Park Co-op

A 65-year-old resident of the Seward Park Co-op reportedly leaped to his death early Tuesday morning. According to the police report, the man jumped from the window of his sixth-floor apartment at building 4, west of Clinton. Officers from the 7th Precinct responded at 7:47am, and found him unconscious at the scene. Further investigation into the […]

Open Call for Muralists to Decorate First Street Green Art Park

Centre-fuge, whose popular art trailer was deposed last summer after seven years, is seeking muralists to paint part of the First Street Green Art Park. The group put out the official request for proposals yesterday morning. There are seven fence-canvases available for the taking. Artwork is curated on a rotating basis, so this next batch […]

Mulberry Market Signage Goes up in Little Italy

Months delayed, the forthcoming Mulberry Market finally has something to show for itself. Store signage was installed yesterday above the entrance to the highly-anticipated supermarket (stylized as MulberryMARKET). The new marketplace is apparently a “family business” that is years in the making. It replaces the decades-old MET Food, which was unable to negotiate favorable lease […]

DOT Announces More ‘Asphalt Art’ for Chinatown Seasonal Streets

For the second year running, Doyers Street is the recipient of the alliterative Asphalt Art. The Department of Transportation’s Temporary Art Program (DOT Art) is again joining forces with the Chinatown Partnership to paint the former “Bloody Angle.” Hangzhou artist Chen Dongfan was the first to paint the area last July, imparting a 4,851 square-foot mural […]

Cactus Store Returns Saturday for Third Season on Essex Street

Unless (or until) development takes hold at 5 Essex Street, the annual cactus retail setup will continue. For the third year running, the Los Angeles-based Cactus Store is set to return this season. Ownership confirmed the plans, and relayed an opening date of this Saturday (May 25). All the infrastructure is still in place, including […]