State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside) today spoke on several problems and solutions relating to affordable housing at a forum on the subject, which attracted nearly 50 residents.
Peralta and the Neighborhood Housing Services of Queens, a non-profit group, organized the seminar held at P.S. 19, 98-02 Roosevelt Avenue in Corona,to teach residents about applying for affordable housing in a city that the State Senator called one of the most expensive in the nation.
“My constituents are facing a huge problem and it is that the rent is too high,” he said. “Across the board we are seeing individuals that paying 20, 30, sometimes 50 percent of their income to pay for rent. That has to stop.”
Peralta warned these excessive rent burdens could lead residents to leaving the state for cheaper states, which he wanted to avoid.
The state senator also referred to legislation in the State Senate to protect tenants and called for more colleagues to pass these bills. One bill, S. 6527, would prevent preferential rent, or rent lower than the maximum charge, from increasing during lease renewal. The rate of housing with preferential rent in his district is nearly 37 percent, one of the highest in New York City.
“Sometimes landlords don’t inform individuals that they are signing a preferential rent lease. When their renewal is up, it’s skyrockets. The result is that they can’t afford the rent and move out, which then allows the property owners to increase it dramatically,” Peralta said.
He also urged lawmakers to pass S. 1593 that end the vacancy bonus, which allows landlords to boost rents after a tenant or tenants move out. Other bills Peralta wants passed include S. 4313 that restricts landlord from increasing rents during capital improvements.
NHS of Queens Executive Director Yoselin Genao-Estrella reiterated that there existed a housing crisis in New York City. She noted residents often did not understand all the details when obtaining affordable housing and felt glad for the seminar.
She urged those in attendance to tell others about such services and push for more affordable housing by pressuring their local officials. She dismissed doubts about obtaining 100 percent affordable housing for residents in the community.
“That 100 percent of special housing for seniors is impossible. That in the community, [such affordable housing] is not possible,” Genao-Estrella said. “You know what? It is possible if we unite with the support from public officials and you at the forefront.”