“Government actually stimulated homelessness.”

While tenant advocates at the Rent Guidelines Board continually point to rising homelessness as an indicator of housing affordability problems, it is interesting that at least one advocacy group for the homeless believes that, through its re-housing policies, “government actually stimulated homelessness.”


       – Jack Freund


Additional Sources:

Report: New Mayor Should Stop Re-Housing the Homeless– City Limits, 4/23/13

If Preliminary Vote Is Any Indication, Rent Hikes Coming To NYC Apartments


April 30, 2013 10:07 PM

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A preliminary decision was issued Tuesday for raising the rents on rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.

As 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board decided on a 3.25 percent to 6.25 percent increases for one-year leases, and 5 percent to 9.5 percent increases on two-year leases. But the decision is just preliminary.

The board is made up of tenant members, property owners, and members of the public. The tenant members argued for a rent freeze and a 0 percent increase, talking about the cost of living in the city and the fact that many people in rent-stabilized apartments are on a fixed income.

Harvey Epstein, who represents tenants on the board, said the proposed increase range is far too high.

“One-size-fit-all answers don’t work here, so if there’s a small bunch of landlords, that need help, let’s figure out a solution for them,” he said.

Property owners talked about how expensive it is to operate a building in the city. They asked for 7 percent and 11 percent increases, respectively.

Jack Freund, vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association, said only a small number of apartments have high turnover and rent at market value.

“And of course, the apartments that are well below market rate may be renting for less than the cost of operation,” Freund said. “They don’t turn over.”

While Rent Guidelines Board meetings have been heated in the past, meetings on preliminary rent hikes have seen fewer and fewer attendees as people save their tonsils for the final vote later.

As usual, the vote on the preliminary decision on the rent hikes was 5 to 4. The final decision will be made June 30.


Source: CBS New York 

North Dakota can’t control rents: Candidates’ positions vary on how best to help housing crunch

Southwest North Dakota has a lot on its plate as the fall elections near. Oil production has helped drive down the state’s unemployment rate, but the benefits do not come without their drawbacks.

By: Katherine Grandstrand, The Dickinson Press



Southwest North Dakota has a lot on its plate as the fall elections near. Oil production has helped drive down the state’s unemployment rate, but the benefits do not come without their drawbacks.

One of the biggest issues in the Oil Patch is the lack of affordable housing, especially rental units, and the mid-income families and individuals that get caught between eligibility for low-income housing and being able to afford rent or mortgage.

That is where imaginative housing solutions come into play, said Dickinson resident Alan Fehr, Republican candidate for one of District 36’s State House seats.

“I think that if people are creative, I think that many people, maybe most people, will find something that works for them,” he said.

Some inventive housing solutions can be hazardous, said District 36 Democratic candidate Bev Berger, Richardton.

“I don’t think just putting campers here and there and everywhere is safe and I don’t think it’s good for the towns,” she said.


Rent control


There is a North Dakota law that prohibits rent control by local governments.

“It’s an alien concept to North Dakotans. Any time you have something outside the box that people aren’t accustomed to, it’s likely to be a hard sell whether it makes sense or doesn’t make sense,” said Paul Rechlin, executive director of CommunityWorks North Dakota, an affordable housing and community improvement nonprofit in Mandan.

Rent control can come in different forms and, if elected, Berger would have to see a plan before making any decisions.

“It’s totally different when you’re on the outside,” she said.

The market will balance itself out and government involvement in the housing market will only create complications, Fehr said.

“There are some things that government needs to do,” he said. “But I think as a general sense if rents are going up, people need to look at what works for them.”




“I understand where some of the rent needs to go up,” Berger said. “But I don’t believe we needed to overly engorge.”

There are some that have lost their housing, especially those with fixed incomes, because of large rent increases, she said.

“The housing crunch is very difficult for some people,” Fehr said. “And, of course, it’s a boon to others.”

Those selling houses and who own rental property are benefiting from the high demand and low supply of housing in the Oil Patch, he said.

After getting burned in 1980s oil boom, many would-be developers and more-so would-be lenders are worried about jumping feet first into large building projects, Rechlin said.

“The whole problem is cost of construction is high and cost of construction has never been higher than it is right now,” he said. “Whatever that cost of construction might be, how can you put that kind of investment into construction of new housing and be able to charge rent that’s affordable?”




“Unlimited money is the only solution and that doesn’t exist,” Rechlin said with a slight chuckle.

But partnerships between government, private companies and nonprofits can create relief, which they are doing in North Dakota, he said.

Temporary housing, when done in a structured manner, may be the answer to overbuilding, Berger said.

“When the oil boom is done, the camps will go away and the communities won’t be left with residential areas that are abandoned,” she said.

In previous sessions, including the last, there have been some programs introduced that have created and funded some affordable housing projects, Fehr said. He worries about too much government intervention.

“We want southwest North Dakota to be a great place to live,” he said. “And that means housing, that means schools, that means roads, that means a lot of things that the government — state, city, county — all share some involvement in making it happen. But it also means, and I think, our economy in some ways may be a wake-up call to people that the government doesn’t exist to solve all problems.”


Source: The Dickinson Press 

Rent Guidelines Board Hears Testimony Over Proposed Rent Hikes


06/13/2012 11:33 PM

By: NY1 News


The Rent Guidelines Board held another hearing on proposed hikes for the city’s nearly one million rent-regulated apartments.

The rent board heard testimony from only a handful of people over a proposed range of hikes for leases signed or renewed starting in October.

One-year leases could go up between 1.75 and 4 percent.

Two-year leases could jump between 3.5 and 6.75 percent.

Property owners said the increases help cover costs, but tenants say it’s too much.

“This rent board last year passed enormous rent hikes,” said tenant Barry Soltz. “It is unfair to tenants. We’re in an economic recession. Landlords need to start paying their fair share.”

“We come here every year to seek justice from this terrible system that we have,” said Chris Athineos, a Brooklyn property owner. “Owners are just looking to meet their costs. They keep raising the water and sewer, the real estate taxes.”

The rent board will make a final decision on June 21.


Source: NY1

Report from the RGB Front

Summary of RGB Meeting May 31, 2012

The NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) held a public meeting to review two RGB staff reports (Housing Changes and Housing Supply) and to hear testimony from two City and State agencies ( the State’s Office of Rent Administration and NYC Department of Finance.

Several points were raised which support the housing industry’s request for rent guidelines higher than those proposed in the Preliminary Guideline Proposal. For example, the Housing Changes report showed that, for the second year in row, the number of units removed from the rent stabilization system because of high-rent decontrol has declined (from 13,557 in 2009 to 11,364). This is important because tenant advocates have argued that an increasing number of fair market apartments meant that owners did not need increases on their stabilized units (ignoring the fact that the vast majority of deregulated apartments were in Manhattan).

DHCR’s testimony and response to questions highlighted several facts that the RGB should take under consideration:

  • DHCR granted only 65% of the total MCI dollars applied for 2011, indicating that owners are spending substantial sums on improvements for which they are not being compensated.
  • No owners filed for hardship applications in 2011, likely because DHCR acknowledged that hardship applications take years to process and are ultimately denied.
  • DHCR also acknowledged that it was still investigating whether government mandated improvements such as backflow preventer devices and heating plant conversions should be eligible for MCI rent increases


It’s that time of year again…

The Riverdale Press

May 30, 2012

City proposes latest round of rent hikes
By Adam Wisnieski


It’s that time of year again.

The New York City Rent Guidelines Board has proposed its hike for rent-stabilized apartments, but this one may not be as big as in years’ past.

This year’s proposed increase for one-year renewal leases is between 1.75 and 4 percent and 3.5 to 6.75 percent for two-year leases. Last year, the Rent Guidelines Board set increases at a maximum of 3.75 percent for one-year leases and 7.25 percent for two-year leases.

The Rent Guidelines Board will hold public hearings on the increase in June.

The increase, if passed, will affect leases that expire between Monday, October 1, 2012 and Monday, September 30, 2013.

Riverdalian Mickey Gensler of the Skyview Tenants Association said he represents approximately 200 rent-stabilized renters at Skyview in North Riverdale and many of them, like him, are seniors who live on a fixed income. He opposes the proposed increase.

“When there is a bad winter there is a raise, when there is a mild winter there is a raise. They manage to raise rents almost to the maximum every time,” said Mr. Gensler.

Not everyone agrees with Mr. Gensler.

One small organization, New York City Renters Alliance, wants to reform the city’s housing market and phase out rent-regulated apartments because they argue they’re unfair for new renters. The group, made up of market-rate renters, argues the truly needy, like seniors living on fixed incomes, should benefit from subsidies, but that well-off New Yorkers should not get to pay a fraction of the market rate.

The Bronx public hearing will take place on Wednesday, June 13 at the Repertory Theatre of Hostos Community College, located at 450 Grand Concourse, at 4:30 p.m. Written comments can be sent to RGB at 51 Chambers St., Suite 202, New York, N.Y. 10007 or sent by fax to 212-385-2554 or e-mailed to [email protected] Written testimony must be received by Monday, June 18.

After hearing testimony from the five boroughs, the board will meet on Thursday, June 21 in Manhattan to adopt the final hike.


Source: The Riverdale Press