Rangel: Cuomo ‘Hasn’t Done Anything’ to Push for Stronger Rent Laws

Congressman Charles Rangel. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Congressman Charles Rangel. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Congressman Charles Rangel lashed out Gov. Andrew Cuomo today, telling the Observer the governor “hasn’t done anything” to push the State Legislature to strengthen rent regulations as the legislative session winds down and the expiration of the laws looms this month.

Mr. Rangel spoke to the Observer shortly after addressing a rally for more tenant-friendly rent stabilization—including the elimination of preferential rents, preventing landlords from removing vacant apartments from the rent control program and making charges for major capital improvements temporary rather than a permanent—in his native Harlem. Asked if Mr. Cuomo, the beneficiary of large donations from the real estate industry, has done enough to lobby and pressure the Republican-controlled State Senate to join the Democrat-dominated Assembly in supporting those measures, Mr. Rangel’s answer was firmly negative.

“He hasn’t done anything. No,” he said, though he alluded hopefully to Mr. Cuomo’s call yesterday to end vacancy decontrol. “We’re in the process of seeing what’s going to go on. There’s indication that he’s going to do the right thing, but we don’t know.”

Mr. Rangel campaigned for Mr. Cuomo last year, after the governor endorsed him for re-election in his Democratic primary battle against Manhattan State Senator Adriano Espaillat. The congressman even defended Mr. Cuomo’s controversial decision to shut down the anti-corruption Moreland Commission last year, a termination that has prompted a federal investigation.

During the rally, Mr. Rangel reiterated his call for an end to granting the controversial 421a tax credit to luxury developments, and called for activists to keep pressure on Albany for stronger rent regulations.

“Now it’s our job to find out what we’re going to do with the Senate and what we’re going to do with the governor to make certain that nobody’s going to push us out of our homes,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo’s office forwarded remarks he made about the subject in Nassau County today. There, the governor appeared to endorse the Assembly’s proposals for rent regulation, calling for an end to vacancy decontrol, ending permanent charges for major capital improvements and raising the price at which an apartment is able to leave rent stabilization from the current threshold of $2,500.

“We’re losing too many affordable housing units by the current rent regulation,” Mr. Cuomo said, estimating the loss to be roughly 10,000 annually. “Now, it’s a very technical program, but I believe that we can make modifications that reduce the number of units that we lose from the system.”

“I’m fighting not just to renew the rent laws but to improve and expand them,” he continued.

Assembly Housing Chair Keith Wright—now a candidate to succeed to the retiring Mr. Rangel—emceed the event.

Updated to include comment from Mr. Cuomo.

Rangel: Cuomo ‘Hasn’t Done Anything’ to Push for Stronger Rent Laws