WE ACT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE APPLAUDS THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL FOR EXPANDING THE NUMBER OF BUILDINGS REQUIRED TO REDUCE EMISSIONS WHILE SAFEGUARDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
City Seizes Opportunity to Expand Climate Mobilization Act as New York State Rent Legislation Now Protects Affordable Housing Residents From Landlords Passing on the Cost of Compliance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2020
Contact: Chris Dobens, 212-410-1963, email@example.com
HARLEM, NY — With the passage of Intro 1947 by the New York City Council today, New Yorkers took a giant step closer to achieving our emissions reduction goals to address climate change. This new bill amends Local Law 97, expanding the number of buildings that will have to comply with the emissions reductions rules while ensuring the equity and justice we fought to instill in the original legislation. Local Law 97, known as the Climate Mobilization Act, requires buildings in excess of 25,000 square feet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.
Local Law 97 originally excluded buildings with affordable housing units out of concern that landlords would use this as an excuse to raise their rents, passing on the cost of compliance – considered a major capital improvement (MCI) – and escalating gentrification in these communities. However, New York State recently passed rent laws that make it much more difficult for landlords to pass on MCIs to renters.
“Intro 1947 will help safeguard affordable housing, protecting tenants from MCI rent increases attributed to Local Law 97 compliance,” explained Sonal Jessel, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “This new legislation will ensure that all communities can become climate resilient without the risk of accelerating gentrification.”
The new State rent laws tighten the rules that govern what spending qualifies for an MCI rent increase as well as strengthen the enforcement of these rules by requiring that 25 percent of MCIs be inspected and audited by the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal annually. They also cap the annual MCI rent increase at two percent statewide, down from the current six percent in New York City and 15 percent in other counties currently covered by the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974. And they remove MCI rent increases and New York City Rent Guidelines Board rent increases based on an MCI after 30 years, instead of allowing them to remain in effect permanently.
Because of these new State laws, affordable housing tenants in New York City are now protected from landlords passing on the costs of all MCIs – including those necessary to comply with Local Law 97. And that is why WE ACT and other climate justice advocates urged the New York City Council to expand Local Law 97 with Intro 1947, which will require all buildings with 35 percent of affordable housing units or fewer to also comply with Local Law 97. The new legislation also extends the compliance deadline for these additional buildings by two years, to May 1, 2027.
“Passing Intro 1947 will add thousands of buildings to the list of those required to reduce their emissions under the Climate Mobilization Act without the risk of displacing affordable housing residents and accelerating gentrification,” added Jessel. “And that is significant because buildings, not vehicles, produce the majority of the greenhouse gas emissions in New York City.”
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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.