Organizing Wins!

A Victory for Tenants Across the State

As part of the Housing Justice for All Campaign, the Organizing and Policy department contributed to the successful push to strengthen the New York State rent laws before the legislative session ended in June. You can read about our historic win in the New York Times!

Below is a description of the campaign from one of our tenant leaders, Viola Bibins. 

"Did you hear the news of what happened in Albany?

Last October, I went to Rochester with a group of tenants from the Upstate-Downstate Housing Alliance. It opened my eyes to what was happening across the state - homelessness, evictions, displacement. People’s rents are going up faster than their incomes. It puts a lot of stress onto people, so much that they get sick. But that trip also showed me that we’re not alone. Lots of people are going through this and we can fight together.

After that, I got involved in the Housing Justice For All campaign to strengthen the rent laws. I went up to Albany every month for Tenant Tuesday. We held rallies with hundreds of tenants, and with unions and progressive groups, to ask the legislators to pass bills that would improve conditions for tenants.

I live in a rent-stabilized building in Crown Heights. About 20 years ago I started organizing with my neighbors because the conditions in our building were horrible. I never thought about how my landlord had a reason to push me out of my apartment because he could get more money if I moved out. To him, it’s money, but to me, it’s my home. 

On June 14, I went up to Albany for the last time this session, to watch the legislators debate the bills and vote. It was the first time I had been inside the Assembly and the Senate. The assembly members were speaking about how the bills would affect their constituents, and my assembly member Diana Richardson gave a powerful speech on the floor. I didn’t realize I would get so emotional. But when it all came to a head and I realized we were actually going to win, I teared up. 

With the laws that we won, the landlords can’t go up on the rent like they used to. It was a historic occasion for everyone. I don’t think the landlords are going to be happy. But they have had their way for a very long time!

For me, the campaign was an incredible experience. I felt like I was doing the right thing. I had a voice and used my voice to represent the people. I was even willing to get arrested so my point of view could be heard. I can’t believe I was part of all this.

And we still have a lot more to do. We need to address the homelessness crisis and we need to make sure that landlords actually follow the laws. But now we have a powerful movement of people who can organize to make it happen!"