Tenants’ rights advocates and lawmakers tout legislative agenda

Activists, elected officials and tenants rallied outside the governor’s Manhattan office to launch their legislative campaign to protect renters.

Shantel Destra

Shantel Destra Ralliers outside Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Manhattan Office pushing for the passage of a slate of housing bills to get passed in the 2023 legislative session.

A crowd of impassioned ralliers chanted “Fight fight fight, housing is a human right” on the bustling streets of Midtown Thursday outside the governor’s Manhattan office. One message was clear: Housing will be a top priority in Albany next year.

The tenants’ rights group Housing Justice For All and state lawmakers have high hopes that a slate of housing bills – including “good cause” eviction, which aims to protect tenants from being evicted on a whim, the Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act, which would give tenants a priority chance to buy their building from their landlord, and the Housing Access Voucher program to help homeless and low-income people pay for housing – will have their moment in the upcoming session. 

State Sen. Jabari Brisport, who represents neighborhoods including Bedford-Stuyvesant and Gowanus, gave an impassioned speech underscoring how real estate developers have negatively impacted neighborhoods throughout his Brooklyn district and have pushed out residents of color because of rent hikes. Brisport was not alone. Multiple lawmakers and future lawmakers underscored their commitment to passing the legislation, from state Sen. Robert Jackson to Assembly Members Marcela Mitaynes, Emily Gallagher, Phara Souffrant Forrest and others.

Housing is hot right now. The rally came on the heels of high-profile announcements from New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul committing to building hundreds of thousands more units of housing in the coming decade. Hochul has signaled that building housing will be a key goal outlined in her upcoming State of the State address in January. 

Jackson told City & State that lawmakers are confident the 2023 legislative session will be the year the stalled “good cause” eviction bill makes it past the finish line partly because the governor doesn’t have an election to worry about. “It’s different this year. This will be the first year of the governor’s first full term in office. She’s not up for reelection this year,” Jackson said. 

Mitaynes shared a similar sentiment about ideal timing, pointing to Hochul’s and Adams’ recent moves to highlight housing as a key priority. Mitaynes underscored the needs of tenants across the state who have faced “years of disinvestment and failed programs.” “We need to provide immediate relief for renters,” she said.