STATEMENT: POUGHKEEPSIE JUDGE BLOCKS TENANT PROTECTIONS; COMMUNITY VOICES HEARD CALLS ON STATE LEGISLATORS TO PASS GOOD CAUSE STATEWIDE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eli Berkowitz, Hudson Valley Lead Organizer, Community Voices Heard, 845-541-1122
March 8, 2023 (POUGHKEEPSIE, NY) – Yesterday, a City of Poughkeepsie judge blocked Poughkeepsie’s Good Cause eviction law, which protected renters from being evicted without reason.
Once again, a court has overturned the will of the people. Community Voices Heard members and partners fought for and won Good Cause eviction in Poughkeepsie to provide basic protections to keep regular, working-class people in their homes.
This case was particularly egregious; the landlord – a large property management company – increased their tenant’s rent by 23%, forcing her to pay over half her fixed income on rent or vacate her home of 47 years. They then threatened to evict if she didn’t sign the lease at the 23% increase. The judge ruled that this was perfectly legal. The Good Cause eviction protections that the Common Council passed in 2021 were designed to stop injustices like this by allowing tenants to challenge rent increases higher than 5%.
“As a tenant in Poughkeepsie, this ruling isn’t surprising to me, but it still makes me disgusted,” said Tonisha Kelly, CVH Member and longtime Poughkeepsie resident. “It’s not surprising because I’ve watched city judges over and over again rule in favor of landlords no matter what. I’ve been in Poughkeepsie for over 20 years, and now I have to look into moving because my landlord might raise my rent by 23%, too? It makes me so angry to have to fight so hard to stay in a place that doesn’t seem like it wants hard-working, tax-paying citizens like myself. I need Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins to pass Good Cause eviction and stronger tenant protections at the state level so that tenants like me don’t have to fight for what is our god-given right: a safe and affordable home.”
"We fought alongside tenants in Poughkeepsie to win good cause protections," said Community Voices Heard Executive Director Juanita O. Lewis. "It's devastating to see these protections be dismantled city by city, judge by judge. Now, it's up to our state elected officials. We're calling on state legislators to immediately pass Good Cause protections statewide."
Sixty-five percent of Poughkeepsie’s residents are renters, and one in three renters spend more than half their income on rent. Rents have been increasing at rates that far outpace growth in income and earnings. This decision leaves Poughkeepsie residents without the crucial protections that tenants and their local elected officials fought to enact.
Judges continue to rule against city tenant protections – it’s up to the state to take action.
The state must act to pass statewide eviction protections in the budget before the end of March. We call on Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins to pass Good Cause Eviction at the state level immediately.
Community Voices Heard (CVH) is a member-led, multi-racial organization principally comprised of women of color and low-income families in New York State. CVH tackles tough issues and builds power to secure racial, social, and economic justice for all New Yorkers. Through grassroots organizing, leadership development, policy changes, and creating new models of direct democracy CVH is creating a truly equitable New York State.