Denisa Rodrigo, who lives in a rent-stabilized studio apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, said any increase would be “unsustainable.” Ms. Rodrigo, 56, lost her job as a medical assistant when the private doctor she worked for closed his office in 2020, during the worst of the pandemic. She said she is still searching for a new job.
Ms. Rodrigo’s monthly rent is $1,050, which she has mostly been unable to pay since April 2020. A pandemic rent relief program covered about $9,000 she owed, but she still has about $10,000 to repay, she said, and any incremental increase allowed by the board could leave her further in debt.
“I have been paying what I could, out of my savings, and depleting almost everything that I have,” she said.
She said she worries she will be evicted, and wants the board to vote for a rent decrease instead.
The rent-stabilization system, established in 1969, has become a vast and important source of affordable housing in one of the most expensive places to live in the country. The median monthly rent is about $1,269, compared with $1,700 in homes that are not regulated.
The more than one million rent-stabilized apartments make up roughly half of the city’s rental housing stock.
Just over 40 percent of those tenants are Hispanic or Latino and more than 20 percent are Black, according to city estimates, while the median household income of rent-stabilized tenants is around $44,000, more than 33 percent lower than the figure in unregulated apartments.
The nine members on the board, who are all appointed by the mayor, include five representatives of the public, as well as two each for owners and tenants. The board’s annual votes represent one of the few ways the mayor can directly address the city’s housing costs, and Mr. Adams has named three appointees since taking office. The other members were appointed by Mr. de Blasio.