Tenants, elected officials and members of grassroot organizations gathered in Newburgh on Thursday to discuss the launch of the “Our Homes, Our Power” legislative package. Advocates said it will protect tenants from getting evicted in wake of a judge's move to block the city's Good Cause Law.
Members of “For the Many” and renters in Newburgh spoke after a supreme court judge recently struck down the city’s law barring landlords from evicting tenants without so-called good cause.
They said the next step is for the legislature to pass tenant protection laws.
“This legislation that we're proposing would further democratize the process and allow tenants to have a greater say in rent stabilization. And the last bill, which could end up being very transformative, would create a social housing authority,” said Brahvan Ranga, political director of For the Many.
An attorney representing area landlords, Benjamin Neidl, said his clients should have more control over their properties, and state statute trumps Newburgh’s law.
“Basically, when the lease is up, the landlord or the tenant both have the right to not renew. If they want to, the landlord has to give a certain amount of notice to the tenant if the landlord decides not to renew. But if they do, that state law says if the tenant doesn't vacate, the landlord can evict the tenant for that reason. The local law conflicts with that by saying, 'no, the landlord can't, the landlord must offer a renewal lease unless certain extraordinary circumstances,” said Neidl.
On the other side of the debate, the tenants said they need protections.
Dale Velazquez has been a renter in Newburgh for over a year.
“I had gas leak, so I was getting nauseous for weeks," she said. "And he kept saying, 'they're only minor.' I said, 'now, I’m sick to my stomach.' I finally had to call Central Hudson, and they came and shut everything down,” said Valazquez.
She said this situation has been taking a toll on his mental health and she has received serveral notices of eviction but has nowhere else to go.
“It's mentally disturbing. It's emotionally disturbing,” said Valazquez.
Valazquez hopes that this new good cause law protection passes so she can have a piece of mind.