As a rent-controlled tenant for the past 47 years, I strongly dispute comments made by Rent Stabilization Association President Joseph Strasburg, a powerful lobbying group that wants to weaken rent laws.
Mr. Strasburg defends vacancy de-control by saying "we need to protect tenants, not apartments." Wrong. We must protect both. Deregulation of stabilized apartments motivates ruthless landlords to pressure long-term tenants to leave by gutting their apartments, so they can charge market-rate rents.
But arrests and indictments won't solve the problem. Vacancy de-control has removed nearly 300,000 affordable apartments from the city's housing market in the last decade, says Comptroller Scott Stringer.
If Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to achieve his goal of 200,000 affordable units, he must end vacancy decontrol. But he can't do this alone. That's up to our legislators in Albany after the 1971 Urstadt Act transferred control of the city's rent laws to the state Housing Authority as payback to a rich and generous real estate lobby.
The debate over rent law speaks to a larger issue: our need for more home rule. Albany also controls the city's taxes, transit fares, bridge tolls and minimum wage rules. Our destiny is determined by folks we didn't elect who live closer to Canada then Queens.