By Ross Barkan
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio would like everyone to know that, despite a report indicating otherwise, in his view, the rent is actually too damn high.
The confusion began when the New York Post reported today that Mr. de Blasio, one of the most liberal candidates in the mayors race, was opposed to freezing rents on rent-stabilized properties. The story quoted a de Blasio aide expressing the public advocate’s concern about the potential impact on small landlords, and reported that he had not called on the Rent Guidelines Board to keep rents from increasing. All of his Democratic rivals had made such a call.
However, Mr. de Blaso, probably unhappy about being labeled the “unexpected new champion” of landlords, blasted out a statement later in the morning that blamed a spokesperson for having “mischaracterized” his position on rent increases. He said he actually believes just the opposite.
“At a time when nearly half of our city’s residents are living in or near poverty, we cannot continue to put additional financial burdens on poor and working New Yorkers,” Mr. de Blasio said in the statement. “The Rent Guidelines Board must freeze rent increases when it meets next month. And I renew my call for the RGB to hold hearings in the five boroughs, instead of its one planned meeting in Manhattan. If the RGB’s members could hear directly from the people, as I have, they would know we cannot place additional hardships on renters in New York.”
The spokesman, Wiley Norvell, subsequently told Politicker that the mix-up had been entirely his fault and not his boss’s.
“It was my miscommunication,” he said. “I was unclear of the position he had taken. The mistake was on me.”