The Council also voted to provide auto-renewals on property tax exemptions for seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities, resolutions expressing support for the people of Ukraine
City Hall, NY – The Council today voted on the first legislative item of the session, a bill to extend the period during which Council Members can determine the status of New York City’s housing emergency. Pursuant to State law, the City Council must periodically determine whether there is an ongoing housing emergency defined as a vacancy rate of less than 5% of the City’s rental housing stock to maintain rent stabilization laws. If an emergency persists, the Council can pass legislation to extend the City’s Rent Stabilization Law until the following determination is due.
New York City’s most recent Housing and Vacancy Survey data from 2017 indicated a 3.63% vacancy rate and resulted in a 2018 determination of an ongoing housing emergency. The next survey, scheduled for 2020, was postponed to 2021 due to the Census, extending the housing shortage determination period until April 1, 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic created additional delays for the survey, leading Governor Kathy Hochul to amend the Local Emergency Housing Rent Control Act and authorize another extension of three months to determine whether the housing emergency is ongoing. This bill would amend the expiration date of the New York City Rent Stabilization Law to bring it into accordance with the State amendment and reflect the extension from April 1, 2022 to July 1, 2022—a vital protection for New York tenants.
“The pandemic is still impacting New York City on multiple fronts, including exacerbating the housing affordability crisis that pre-dated the arrival of COVID,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Extending the period of determination for our City’s housing emergency will allow tenants to remain protected under rent stabilization laws for additional time. I thank Council Member Sanchez for her leadership on this important legislation.”
“Today I am proud and excited to sponsor my very first bill in the City Council: Intro. 70. This bill, which passed in the Housing and Buildings Committee and is slated to be voted on at today’s Stated Meeting, is critical to ensuring rent stabilization can continue in New York City, upon proper finding in the City’s Housing Vacancy Survey,” said Council Member Pierina Ana Sanchez, the bill’s sponsor. “Last year, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau, conducted the City’s triennial Housing and Vacancy Survey, or HVS. The HVS is a critical survey used to determine whether the City’s rent stabilization laws can continue. Ordinarily, the HVS is conducted every three years, and was last scheduled to take place in 2020. That year’s HVS was postponed in part due to the 2020 census and delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The State and City passed legislation to extend the deadline by one year. The extension this bill grants will provide HPD and the U.S. Census bureau additional time to thoroughly complete their analysis of the 2021 HVS. Int. No. 70 would extend the expiration of the City’s Rent Stabilization Law from April 1, 2022 to July 1, 2022. This is important as Rent Stabilization laws protect 1 million renter households each year from wrongful eviction and unreasonable rent increases. I am excited to carry this bill so crucial to everyday New Yorkers.”
The Council also voted on a bill (Int. 71) and accompanying resolution (Res. 54) to extend automatic renewal of property tax exemptions for senior citizen homeowners and those with disabilities, who had received them in the 2021-2022 tax year. The bill would eliminate the need for them to submit the otherwise required application, while requiring renewal applications under certain limited circumstances where there is a reason to believe the property is no longer eligible to receive the exemption. Without action by the Council, none of these homeowners would be automatically renewed in the program and there are an estimated 7,100 homeowners who have not yet renewed with an approaching March 15 application deadline. The exemptions apply only to one, two, and three family homes.
“Families, seniors, and vulnerable New Yorkers are facing rising costs in the midst of a recovery from the myriad impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Automatically renewing properties that received the Senior Citizens Property Tax Exemption (SCHE) and the Persons with Disabilities Homeowner Property Tax Exemption (DHE) for the new tax year will go a long way to support and protect homeowners. More than 7,000 New Yorkers could benefit from the Council’s action to pass this critical legislation.”
Council Member Justin Brannan said: “With many people still struggling with and recovering from the pandemic, it is imperative that we pass this important set of bills that will automatically renew all Senior Citizen Homeowner and Disabled Homeowner property tax exemptions for next year. I’ve always vowed to do my best to make life just a little bit easier for New Yorkers and in getting this done, nearly 40,000 New Yorkers will continue to receive these property tax exemptions.”
In light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing attacks against Ukraine and its people, the Council also voted on two resolutions to offer solidarity and support to the 150,000 Ukrainian Americans who call New York City home. The first – Resolution 67 – would condemn the Russian government for attacking Ukraine, causing the destruction of infrastructure and loss of civilian life. It would additionally call upon the United States Congress and President Joe Biden to increase the severity of sanctions against Russia. The second resolution – Res. 72 – would recognize the plight of the Ukrainian people by calling on the United States federal government to offer humanitarian aid and support for Ukrainians under the threat of military aggression and displacement.
“Today, I introduced a resolution condemning the Russian government’s unprovoked and callous attack against the people of Ukraine and called on Congress and President Biden to continue to increase and expand the severity of sanctions against the Russian government and those complicit in its violence,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson, lead sponsor of Res. 67. “The Russian military’s actions, through its persistent targeting of hospitals, schools, and apartment buildings, has displaced more than two million Ukrainians. It has cost the lives of hundreds of civilians and thousands more soldiers– Russian and Ukrainian alike– and economically devastated the poor and working classes of both countries and other countries in the region. New York is home to the largest Ukrainian population in the United States. As such, it is imperative our city play an active role in supporting this community. And we must also ensure that moving forward we act with this same urgency, care, and compassion for the Black and brown New Yorkers who are from, and have family in, other countries plagued by similar circumstances of violence and displacement.”
Council Member Inna Vernikov, lead sponsor of Res. 72, said: “I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues, Speaker Adams, and the entire Jewish Caucus for their support of the Ukrainian people. The last two weeks have been a challenging and frightening time for Ukrainians, as they fight for liberty and democracy in the face of aggression and tyranny. A shining spot of hope has been the incredible support of good people across the world, including here in the United States. I look forward to this resolution passing today, and sending a message of unity from New York City to the frontline fighters in Ukraine, to the refugees who were forced to flee their homes, and to the 150,000 Ukrainian-born New Yorkers.”
The Council also voted on a resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign The New Deal for CUNY. The largest urban public university in the country, CUNY serves over 275,000 students and is often the best option for a college education for low-income and working class New Yorkers, communities of color, new immigrants, and the urban middle class. However, students face increasing tuition rates on the backdrop of larger classes taught by underpaid adjuncts, limited access to academic advisors and mental health counselors, and dilapidated facilities. The New Deal for CUNY would waive all tuition and create certain staff-to-student ratios, presenting a comprehensive approach to improving the student experience at CUNY by providing the appropriate academic, social, and emotional support students need and the resources needed to renovate CUNY campuses while reducing the need for students to seek outside income to cover tuition and other expenses.
“For decades, CUNY has not only made higher education possible for New Yorkers of all backgrounds but it has been a proven stepping stone to economic prosperity. Now is the time for us to double down on this success story!” said Council Member Brannan, the resolution’s sponsor. “Albany must pass the New Deal for CUNY. Together we can prevent further cuts to CUNY, reverse decades of cavalier underfunding, restore a tuition-free university and increase the full-time faculty-to-students ratio. It’s time for something big and bold. New York needs a world-class public higher education system. New York needs the New Deal for CUNY. Let’s get it done!”
The last resolution – Res. 66 – calls on the State to pass state legislation, known as the New York Dignity Not Detention Act (S. 7373/A. 7099-A), which would prohibit New York governmental entities from entering into agreements to house people in immigration detention facilities. New York counties currently profit from contracts to detain immigrants, part of a larger system of deportation and detention that divides families and destabilizes communities. The New York Dignity Not Detention Act would get New York out of the business of immigration detention and help keep New York families and communities together.
“I want to thank the advocates, elected officials, and formerly and currently detained undocumented immigrants who shared their testimony and stories to help this resolution pass. Today, the New York City Council says unequivocally that immigrant rights are human rights,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif, the resolution’s lead sponsor. “I also want to offer my sincere gratitude to Speaker Adams for helping champion this bill and bring it to a vote in our Council. With the passage of this resolution, our Council formally calls on our state to end its complicity in the grave human rights abuses that occur every day in ICE detention facilities. The work of the Immigration Committee on this issue is far from over, but today we take a real step forward in ensuring that immigrants in New York are treated with dignity, not detention. Now, the State needs to do its part and get these facilities closed.”
Finally, the Council voted on several other items out of the Committee on Finance, and the Committee on Rules, Privileges, and Elections.
Resolution 19,sponsored by Council Members Brannan and Farah Louis, would establish the Castle Hill Business Improvement District in the Borough of the Bronx and setting the date, time and place for the public hearing to hear all persons interested in the establishment of such district.
Preconsidered Res. 58, sponsored by Council Member Brannan, would approve the new designation and changes in the designation of certain organizations to receive funding in the Expense Budget.
Preconsidered Res. 59,sponsored by Council Member Brannan, would establish the West Village Business Improvement District in the Borough of Manhattan and setting the date, time and place for the public hearing to hear all persons interested in the establishment of such district.
Preconsidered Message 33 and 34 and accompanying Resolutions 73 and 74, sponsored by Council Member Brannan, would establish the Council budget for the next Fiscal Year.
The Council voted on the following appointments to the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board:
- Georgia Pestana – Nominated by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander
- Ifeoma Ike, Esq. – Nominated by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams