Activists, lawmakers and tenants rallied Monday in Mineola to urge the New York State Senate to pass a bill that would improve protections for renters, including those on Long Island.
The legislation would decrease the vacancy bonus that incentivizes landlords to push tenants out, would make temporary rent increases for apartment complex improvements and strengthen protections for tenants with preferred rents so they are not at risk of being evicted.
“Rent laws are a city issue, but also a Long Island issue,” said Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solanges (D-Elmont).
Rent laws in New York are set to expire on June 15, two days before the state Legislature adjourns for the summer.
The New York Communities for Change, which organized the rally, determined that there are more than 23,000 rent-regulated tenants on LI, most of which are in Nassau. The group said that thousands of rent-regulated apartments have been lost over the last 20 years under the law, which the group argued is too weak.
Those people struggling the most include low-income families, the elderly and young adults who have been moving out of state to find cheaper housing, depriving LI of its next workforce in what is known as the “brain drain.”
“We’re seeing our young people, our young population, shrinking, shrinking and shrinking,” Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said. “It’s happening because we’re not focused on making sure we protect the rights of renters.”
The Long Island Tenants Union, a group that formed to help push for the changes, also attended the rally.
“Weak rent laws create incentives to push us away from our homes,” said T.J. Shivers, the group’s vice president. “Our state senators have done nothing, and without their support, we could be homeless.”