I am Council Member Ben Kallos, representing the Upper East Side, Midtown East, Roosevelt Island and El Barrio.
Good afternoon to the Rent Guidelines Board Chair Rachel Godsil, Public Members Flax, Joza, Shine, and Wenk, Owner Members Cruz and Willard, Tenant Members Epstein and Garcia.
To the members of the public who are here today, thank you for coming out to this hearing. I stand with you today in calling for a rent freeze. Please show your support over twitter with hashtag #rentfreeze and if you mention @BenKallos, I’ll be sure to re-tweet you. Now, let’s break twitter.
I request that the Rent Guidelines Board vote for rent freeze, that is a 0% rent increase for 1-year leases and a 0% rent increase for 2-year leases.
This rent freeze will help correct the course of extremely high rent increases over the past years, the current environment of an affordability crisis plaguing our city, and the data produced by the Rent Guidelines Board.
Over the past generation, Rent Guidelines Board increases have far outpaced inflation and the consumer price index. I have personally compared the past 20 years of Rent Guidelines Board increases against the Consumer Price Index and found that Rent Guidelines Board outpaced the Consumer Price Index by 14%. That means a $500 a month apartment in 1994 is now a minimum of $906.19 a month with an annual rent of over $10,874.22, while following inflation the same unit would be $786.30 a month and $1,438.60 less a year.
The Rent Guidelines Board must freeze the rents until inflation finally catches up to the generations of increases as high as 5% and 8.5% that provided landlords with windfalls that far outpaced the rising costs these increases were intended to address.