NEWS AND ISSUES
February 12, 2010
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York, New York 10007
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
I understand from press accounts that New York City intends to appeal the January 25, 2010 decision by New York State Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman overturning a 2008 supplemental adjustment imposed by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board ("RGB") on rent stabilized tenants who have lived in an apartment for more than six years and pay less than $1,000 a month in rent. I urge the city to refrain from appealing this judgment not only because it is legally sound and just, but also because the City of New York itself stands to be the prime beneficiary.
Indeed, many of the rent stabilized tenants subject to the minimum increases that Justice Goodman found the RGB illegally imposed are enrolled in City-subsidized housing initiatives like the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8), Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) programs. As a result, the City has overpaid private landlords thousands, and potentially millions, of dollars. Should Justice Goodman's ruling stand, the City would be in line to not only recover those funds but also to lower its per-unit payments going forward, which is particularly crucial as more and more New Yorkers qualify for such rental assistance during this economic downturn.
Given the City's considerable fiscal challenges, an appeal of this decision seems particularly unwise; however, it would be misguided in any case. Justice Goodman rightly determined that by adopting the supplemental adjustment separate from the general renewal increases, the RGB had exceeded its statutory authority and illegally created a distinct class of housing accommodations not specifically authorized by the New York State Legislature. This decision is not only based upon sound legal reasoning, but also removes a disproportionate burden directed toward long-term, overwhelmingly low-income tenants during a time when they can least afford it.
Thank you for your attention to my recommendation. I look forward to your response.
Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senator