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Council split on opening door to rent stabilization

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The Hudson Common Council voted in favor of a resolution calling on state representatives to allow communities to vote on possible rent stabilization.
March 21, 2019 12:00 am

HUDSON — The Common Council narrowly passed a resolution Tuesday that would move the city toward a possible decision on local rent stabilization and rent control legislation in the future.

Before and after the vote, Common Council President Thomas DePietro reminded council members that the resolution to be voted on would not institute rent control or rent stabilization in Hudson, but rather “encourage our state government to allow us to make the decision for ourselves in the future.”

Tuesday’s vote took place during the formal meeting of the Common Council held at City Hall, 520 Warren St.

The resolution calls on Hudson’s representatives in Albany to “strike the geographical restrictions from the ETPA (Emergency Tenant Protection Act) so that local governments can take an active role addressing the cost of rental housing,” according to the resolution.

There is no resolution or proposed local law to bring rent stabilization to Hudson at the present time.

Majority Leader and 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga, who introduced the resolution to the Common Council, said passing it would let “citizens know that we support them and want to see them remain here and not pushed out of the city,” she said.

The resolution also pledges the council’s support for four bills by state legislators:

n Preferential Rent: The proposed bill would prohibit owners from adjusting the amount of preferential rent upon a lease renewal.

n Vacancy Bonus: The proposed bill relates to rent increases after vacancy of a housing accommodation and would eliminate the vacancy bonus.

n Vacancy Decontrol: The proposed bill would prevent landlords from being able to take apartments to of rent regulation when existing tenants leaves.

n Good Cause Eviction: The proposed bill brings the right to a lease renewal with limited rent increases to all renters in non-owner occupied buildings in the state.

The Common Council split on the vote to adopt the resolution, with some members saying they wanted to show symbolic support for city renters feeling the effects of a squeezed housing market.

First Ward Alderman Rob Bujan called for a vote in favor of tabling the legislation because he wanted more time to research the bills that were mentioned in the resolution. The vote to table the resolution was defeated 6-5. Voting against was Bujan, 5th Ward Alderwoman Eileen Halloran, 5th Ward Alderman Dominic Merante, 2nd Ward Alderman Dewan Sarowar and 4th Ward Alderman Rich Volo.

“We have nothing to lose here to our support for larger community that does feel stress of increasing rent and income inequality,” said 4th Ward Alderman John Rosenthal, a renter.

Any type of rent control or stabilization at the state level will take significant time to draft and pass, Rosenthal said.

Other council members were concerned they did not know enough to make an informed vote on the resolution.

“I just don’t have enough information that I would like to make this decision,” Merante said.

The issue of rent stabilization is complex, Halloran added.

“Some of us want to understand more about the whole issue,” Halloran said. “I hope voting to table or wanting to learn more about this isn’t perceived as not being empathetic. On the contrary, we’re willing to spend the time.”

Volo also voted to table the resolution.

“I received a letter that was said to be sent from Didi Barrett last week,” Volo said. “I noticed there was no letterhead or signature so I forwarded that to Didi just to verify and confirm that it was from her and to realize it was not from her and she did not sign it at that time. So I believe that tabling ... I just mean there is more investigation work to be done and more due diligence to be done, so I am going to vote yes to tabling.”

The letter was forwarded to the Common Council on behalf of Citizen Action of New York, which has called on the Common Council to adopt the resolution.

DePietro, who typically does not vote unless there is a tie, said he voted no because he thought the resolution should be voted on at the meeting.

The resolution passed 6-3, with Merante and Sarowar abstaining. Garriga, Rosenthal, 3rd Ward Alderman Calvin Lewis, 3rd Ward Alderman Shershah Mizan, 1st Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson and DePietro voted in favor.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.