Good Cause law fails in 5-5 tie

Hudson’s proposed Good Cause law was put on the shelf after the Common Council vote ended in a 5-5 deadlock.

HUDSON — A local law seeking to protect tenants from evictions without cause was shut down by the Hudson Common Council on Tuesday night.

The proposed law was shelved in a 5-5 deadlock. A simple majority is needed to pass a law.

The vote came as a shock to renters in the community, many of whom were hoping the law would cap rent increases at 5%. Landlords such as David Giroux, who owns a four-unit commercial building on Warren Street, rejoiced at the decision, but specified that he would be willing to work with the Council to come up with a new solution that would “protect the rights of both tenants and property owners.”

An earlier version of the Good Cause eviction law had passed in an 8-0 vote in September. But 1st Ward Alderwoman Rebecca Wolff suggested that Mayor Kamal Johnson turn down the bill because it was missing key protections such as ensuring that renters wouldn’t be displaced if an owner decided to sell their property.

The mayor wound up vetoing the bill in October.

“Hindsight being 20/20, I wouldn’t have suggested the amendment,” said Wolff, who is stepping down from the Council at the end of the year. She doesn’t take all the blame, though, citing that the city’s previous assistant attorney, Jeff Baker, “didn’t complete his work on time,” and that Council President Thomas DePietro didn’t re-introduce the bill on time, causing it to languish.

Mayoral Aide Michael Hofmann echoed Wolff’s disappointment about the vote, but promised that the mayor will review a new version of the resolution next month.

Once the roll call vote was tallied, DePietro added, “I will make sure we get back to it in January.” But the promises to reassess the just cause eviction law didn’t assuage the frustration of some citizens and council members.

“The people who sit on the Council don’t represent the people in their district. They represent self-interest. I’m not surprised, but I’m very disappointed,” said Claire Cousin, president of the board of Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition.

Second Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga echoed Cousin’s sentiments. Disheartened by the outcome, she said, “We have seen people in the city suffer for years. People are losing their houses and this law would have made it fair.”

Twenty-three percent of Hudson residents live below the poverty line. Rent inflation and high real estate prices have led to increased gentrification in Hudson, uprooting some renters who cannot afford the rising prices.

Former Council member and current senior policy advisor for Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition, Quintin Cross, called out his district’s alderman, Ryan Wallace, saying Wallace lacked integrity and made false promises to his constituents.

“People always do the wrong thing. All that voted no have houses,” said Cross. “I look forward to voting against Ryan Wallace soon.”

Wallace seemed unfazed by the comments. He expressed a desire to reexamine the law in the new year, but ultimately decided against the law because he feared landlords would sue the city.

Fourth Ward Alderman John S. Rosenthal cited similar concerns that landlords would pursue legal action against the city if the law passed. Three landlords in Albany are suing the city over Good Cause eviction legislation that was passed over the summer, citing state laws that restrict city governments from controlling evictions and rent.

Activists associated with Housing Justice for All, a statewide movement committed to making fair housing a human right, are pushing Gov. Kathy Hochul to back permanent housing solutions. The governor has not come out in support of Good Cause eviction legislation, though she will most likely be addressing affordable housing in her State of the State address Jan. 5.

It is unclear whether an updated version of the Good Cause eviction law will make its way to the Hudson Common Council docket. What is for certain is that many activists and concerned citizens of Hudson will be making it their new year’s resolution to ensure that DePietro addresses the matter next month.

Those who voted in favor of the bill were aldermen Dewan Sarowar, Wolff, Malachi Walker, Council President DePietro and Garriga. Voting against it were aldermen Dominic Merante, Rosenthal, Wallace, Jane Trombley and Eileen Halloran. Shershah Mizan abstained.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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