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STATEMENT: CVH Responds to the Disappointing 2023 NYS Legislative Session



June 23, 2023 (New York, NY) – This legislative session, our elected leaders had an opportunity to pass legislation that addressed the housing crisis and expanded protections for tenants. They also had a historic moment to elevate the voices of small donors. Ultimately, they failed to pass any significant housing legislation, and rolled back the newly established Public Campaign Finance Program.

No New Yorker should face eviction without good cause. Greedy landlords are taking advantage of a housing shortage to raise rents and squeeze profits from families who are struggling to make ends meet. We have watched again and again as our members have faced 20, 30, even 50 percent rent hikes – hundreds of dollars – and have been forced to leave their homes. Our lawmakers in Albany had an opportunity to provide basic tenants protections, and they chose to turn their backs instead. Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speak Heastie caved to the Governor’s threats of a veto, instead of standing firm and calling her bluff.

The legislature further eroded our community’s trust in public government by gutting New York’s landmark Public Campaign Finance Program behind closed doors. The program was created to amplify the voices of small donors – who are often left out of the political process – by matching donations of up to $250 with public funds. This session, the legislature abruptly changed the rules. Now, donations of up to $18,000 for statewide races, $10,000 for senate, and $6,000 for assembly elections will be eligible for public matching funds up to $2,300. This subverts the program’s original purpose; instead of empowering small donors and making democracy more equitable in New York State, it strengthens corporate interests and big money.

Though the legislature did little to address the housing crisis, there was one bright spot. State legislators passed a bill providing statewide guidance to municipalities across the state about housing vacancy studies. This will make it possible for more cities to opt in to rent stabilization and protect tenants, which is even more urgent after the failure to pass Good Cause. In 2019, we fought for and won the expansion of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, and we are actively working to ensure elected officials in Beacon, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh declare a housing emergency and enact rent stabilization. This new bill provides clear guidelines for municipalities about the information that must be in housing vacancy studies and creates a statewide standard, which is an important step toward rent stabilization across the state.

We also applaud State legislators for working to end the lifetime consequences of mass incarceration by passing Clean Slate. While this legislation is a step in the right direction, the fight continues to ensure that people and families impacted by incarceration have the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Still, under the new Clean Slate law, there is a long wait for conviction sealing and the law doesn't include all types of convictions.

The State had a real opportunity to step up to protect both democracy and tenants this session, and they chose to do neither. Our members will not forget, and we will be back in Albany in January to hold our public officials accountable.

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