Westchester RGB Sets $25, $40 Minimum Increases

The Westchester County Rent Guidelines Board voted 5-2 on June 20 to set rent increases of 2.5 percent for a one-year lease renewal and 4 percent for two years. Tenants who pay less than $1,000 a month will face minimum increases of $25 and $40.

The 5-2 vote came after a tumultuous meeting in which landlord sympathizers tried to shout down one of the board’s tenant representatives. Public member Jane Morganstern made the proposal, and the three public members joined with the two landlord representatives to approve it. The two tenant representatives dissented.

The increases affect about 27,000 rent-stabilized apartments in the county. Most of them are located in Yonkers, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, and White Plains.

The two landlord representatives called in court officers to restore order after tenant representative Genevieve Roche spoke for more than 20 minutes, arguing in favor of a rent freeze. Board chair Joseph Whelan demanded that Roche sit down, while tenants in the crowd called out “that’s right” and “let her speak,” while landlords shouted “sit down” and “tell her to get her facts straight.” 

The court officers threatened to clear the room after Whelan told the other tenant representative, the Rev. Emma-Jean Loftin Woods, to sit down after she spoke for more than the two-minute limit. “You are the chairman of the board,” she told him, “but you are not my God.”

Landlords had asked for increases of 5.75 and 9 percent, with $50 and $100 minimums. White Plains landlord Lisa De Rosa told Patch.com that the increases given were “not as good as we would have wanted,” but better than last year’s rent freeze.

Janet Kelly, a longtime White Plains resident, told LoHud.com that “it’s not going to be easy” for her to pay the minimum increase. She lost her job several years ago, and gets $1,100 a month from Social Security.

“I’m disappointed,” Dennis Hanratty, executive director of Mount Vernon Tenants United, told Patch.com. “They made a deal to get out of here and go home.”