New Yorkers Nearing Rent Law Deadline

by Gary Anthony Ramsay
New York 1 Cable. June 9, 1997
There's just one week to go until the current rent laws expire, and this weekend tenants around the city beefed up their efforts to make their voices heard in Albany. Queens reporter Gary Anthony Ramsay caught up with some of them.

In the ongoing rent regulations war, these tenants say this neighborhood could be a key battleground. Ridgewood and Glendale have more than 100,000 renters, a third of whom fall under rent regulations. Renters like Catherine Talavera - who has 10 children - say, "If the rents change and the landlords win I'm not gonna' have a place to go because I won't be able to afford more than I'm paying now. I have no idea what I would do."

State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno's idea has been for vacancy decontrol, and he plans on presenting his bill to the Senate floor on Wednesday.

This Senate District is represented by fellow Republican Serphin Maltese, who has been leaning in the direction of Bruno's plan. But these tenants hope to stir up enough support to change his mind.

Timothy Lally, a rent control campaign organizer, says, "If he listens to the people in his constituency he should come along on this. The question is, does the money of the landlords have more power than the votes of his constituency?"

Ridgewood tenant Ida Pollack adds, "I think the legislators who are voting for this don't have any idea what they're in for."

And even though Senator Bruno's current plan would only effect high income families, some here don't want any compromise. Joseph Reichling says, "Right now it stands at $250,000 dollars and he wants to lower it to $175,000, then it will drop to $90,000, then to $40,000...that's ridiculous."

The rent control debate has generated some anti-Republican sentiment here, sentiment some say will be remembered during the next set of elections The city's leading Republican says, "All of us can urge them. We can push them in one direction or another, but ultimately this decision, sometime on the 14th or the 15th, will come down to the political will of just three people: the speaker, the governor and the majority leader. It's their negotiations."

Negotiations that appear to be on hold for now.

State Senator Maltese, who holds one of a few possible swing votes, couldn't be reached for comment. When Senator Maltese sits down in Albany on Wednesday to hear his fellow Republican's bill - some of his constituents say they'll be up in the balcony listening too, and watching to see which way he votes."

In Glendale...Gary Anthony Ramsay, New York 1.