Board Is Met With Jeers as It Recommends an Increase in Rents

New York Times
by C. J. Hughes
May 1, 2012

A panel voted on Tuesday to recommend raising rents on rent-stabilized apartments in New York City by amounts comparable to those approved last year.

By a vote of 5 to 4 at Cooper Union’s Great Hall, the Rent Guidelines Board approved increases of 1.75 percent to 4 percent on one-year leases, and 3.5 percent to 6.75 percent increases on two-year leases.

The actual increases will be narrowed to a single percentage when the board votes again on June 21, after hearings on June 13 and 18, at which members of the public can testify.

Last year, the nine-member board, which is appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, approved increases of up to 3.75 percent on one-year leases and 7.25 percent on two-year leases. About one million apartments in the city are rent stabilized.

As in the past, protesters jeered from their seats during the vote, under the watchful eyes of police officers, who set up metal detectors at the front doors.

The meeting coincided with May Day protests by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Helicopters buzzed, nearby streets were closed, and a band with a tuba and drum played outside.

Some protesters at the board meeting carried a banner reading, “Tenants are the 99 percent,” while others shouted, “Greed” and “Shame on Bloomberg” while the board members spoke.

But the protesters’ ranks were thinner this year because of an Occupy march scheduled for around the same time on Broadway, said Larry Wood, a housing advocate.

Still, he promised, they would turn out in droves in June. “There will be a lot more theater for the next vote,” Mr. Wood said.