Eight people — most of them elderly — were arrested during a Monday protest calling on Gov. Cuomo to freeze the rents of tenants in rent-controlled apartments.
The eight who were arrested were part of about three dozen protesters on the sidewalk in front of Cuomo’s Third Avenue office.
The group, which had an average age of about 74, according to one cop, marched onto the sidewalk of Third Ave. and chanted, “Rent control is out of control! Rent freeze now!”
Traffic was at a standstill down Third Ave. and 40th St. for at least 20 minutes.
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The NYPD confirmed that eight demonstrators were taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct.
The governor did not hear or see the protest since he was in Albany Monday.
Delsenia Glover, the campaign manager for the Alliance for Tenant Power, which organized the small rally, said there are only 26,000 rent-controlled units left in the city.
“We are here to ask the governor to declare an emergency for these 26,000 units and demand a rent freeze,” Glover told the Daily News before being arrested. “The governor can do it and the governor is the only one who can do it.”
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While the city Rent Guidelines Board makes the final decisions on increases for rent-stabilized apartments, the state oversees rent-controlled units in residential buildings constructed before February 1947.
Under state law, the state Division of Homes and Community Renewal decides how much rent can go up in a controlled apartment. According to the state, a maximum base rent is established for each apartment in New York City and adjusted every two years to reflect changes in operating, fuel and labor costs.
Landlords can raise rents, under the law, up to 7.5% annual until they reach the maximum base rent.
Many of the protestors complained the rising rents are driving them out.
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Glover called rent-controlled tenants a “vanishing group” and complained that their “cries have fallen on deaf ears for too many years.”
Ellen Shapiro, a 75-year-old movement dance teacher from the Upper West Side, said she moved into her apartment in 1970, but now may have to move because rent increases have made it too expensive for her.
“When they started out, a rent-controlled apartment was very desirable and very cost effective,” Shapiro said. “But now it’s going way up there and so is the city.”
Charni Sochet, of state Homes and Community Renewal, said, “We take concerns from these renters very seriously and met with advocates recently to discuss them.”
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Sochet said the agency’s legal team has researched whether a freeze could be implemented, but “does not believe the administration has the authority to do so under the law.”
“The formula by which rent-controlled rents increase is established by statute and there is no room for discretion,” she said.
With Laura Dimon
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DALE W. EISINGER, KENNETH LOVETT