We Can’t ‘Wait Till Next Year’ for Stronger Rent Laws

Almost 51 years to the day after Jackie Robinson strolled out to first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers and desegregated major-league baseball, tenants and elected officials rallied at the Ebbets Field Apartments Apr. 8 to demand that the state Senate pass bills to repeal vacancy decontrol, the preferential-rent loophole, and the 20 percent vacancy bonus. 

Tenants say the 1,300-unit rent-stabilized complex on the site of the Dodgers’ old ballpark has serious problems with vermin, inadequate heat and hot water, leaky roofs, and broken elevators. But if residents with preferential rents complain, said Beverly Newsome, president of the Ebbets Field Tenants Organization, “a seemingly affordable apartment becomes unaffordable.” The seven buildings are also in the district of state Sen. Jesse Hamilton, whose Independent Democratic Conference’s alliance with Senate Republicans has enabled them to block stronger rent laws. 

“There’s a saying Brooklyn Dodgers fans used to have—wait till next year,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said. “But we can’t wait anymore. Over the past 25 years, our rent laws have been weakened, and New York City has paid a devastating price.”