Dear Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins,
In recent months, a series of courts have struck down local Good Cause eviction laws in Newburgh, the City of Albany, and this week, in Poughkeepsie, ruling that the laws could only be passed at the state level – even while agreeing that Good Cause is constitutional.
Together, the decisions are a direct attack on the residents of these three cities and threaten to worsen New York’s already-alarming housing crisis. They will put thousands of families at risk of losing their homes.
As local elected officials from across the state who have been fighting to help our constituents keep a roof over their heads, we find our hands tied by the court’s decision. There is now only one option left: passing Good Cause at the state level in this legislative session.
Tenants in Albany, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh have been relying on Good Cause eviction protections to stop unconscionable rent hikes and prevent evictions. They include families like those at Capital Crossings in Albany, a housing complex whose residents have met harassment by armed guards after trying to organize against double-digit rent hikes and lease terminations. Without Good Cause, these families are now at immediate risk of displacement.
The story is the same in the five cities across New York that have passed local Good Cause laws – Albany, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Kingston, and Beacon. Tenants in these cities passed Good Cause laws to help tenants stay in their homes, fight rent hikes, and stabilize their communities, only to have judges preempt their work. Families in these cities who have used local Good Cause laws to file suit against abusive landlords will now have those cases put on hold pending a state-level ruling on the local law. As a result, these residents will be forced out of their homes.
The panic now felt by the residents of Albany, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh could have been prevented if the State had passed Good Cause last legislative session. These residents – and the more than four million unregulated tenants across New York – now have no basic protections against discrimination, rent increases, or landlord harassment. Not only are these protections necessary – they are widely popular. A May 2022 poll found that nearly two thirds of likely voters in New York State support Good Cause.
Some opponents of Good Cause in the state legislature inaccurately and dangerously claim that this is a local issue to be determined by local governments. As local elected officials who have made our support of Good Cause clear, we could not disagree more. We have done everything in our power to win Good Cause protections for our constituents – passing local laws and resolutions, holding town halls, and even joining protests – only to have the courts slam the door in our face. Now legal precedent puts all of these hard-fought efforts at risk. We need you to take action.
As local elected officials representing hundreds of thousands of tenants across the State, we implore the State Legislature not to abdicate their responsibility to the millions of New Yorkers who could lose their homes in the coming months. While the legislature failed to pass Good Cause eviction protections during the 2022 legislative session, it is never too late to do the right thing. We urge you to pass Good Cause eviction protections and the rest of the 2023 Our Homes, Our Power package by the end of the budget session.
Gabriella A. Romero, Councilmember, Ward 6, Albany
Tom Hoey, Councilmember Ward 15, Albany
Derek Johnson, Councilmember, Albany
Owusu Anane, Councilmember, Ward 10, Albany
Kelly Kimbrough, Councilmember, Ward 4, President Pro Tempore, Albany
Sergio Adams, Councilmember, Ward 7, Albany
Celeste Barrett-Tolliver, Committeeperson, Ward 3, Albany
Matthew Miller, Legislator, 36th District, Albany County
Justice McCray, City Councilmember, Ward 2, Beacon, NY
Dan Aymar-Blair, City Councilmember, Ward 4, Beacon, NY
Paloma Wake, Councilmember, At-Large, Beacon, NY
Aviva Friedman, Councilmember, District 4, Binghamton
Alfredo Balarin, Common Council Member, Ward 11, City of Albany
Kathy Sheehan, Mayor, City of Albany
Andrea Shaut, Alderman-at-Large, City of Kingston
Michele Hirsch, Alderwoman, Ward 9, City of Kingston
Phil Erner, Ulster County legislator, District 6: City of Kingston Wards 3, 5 & 9, Ulster County
Sparrow Tobin, Alderman, Ward 4, City of Middletown
Giselle Martinez, Councilmember, Ward 1, City of Newburgh
Ramona Monteverde, Councilmember, Ward 2, City of Newburgh
Megan Deichler, Councilmember, City of Poughkeepsie
Barrington Atkins, Dutchess County Legislator, City of Poughkeepsie
Evan R. Menist, Majority Leader, Councilmember Ward 2, City of Poughkeepsie
Kim Smith, Councilmember At-Large, City of Rochester
Katie Aiello, Councilmember, Ward 1, City of Utica
Kristofer Munn, County Legislator, District 20, Dutchess County
Yvette Valdés Smith, Minority Leader, Dutchess County Legislature, Dutchess County
Thomas M. DePietro, Council President, Hudson
Kamal Johnson, Mayor, Hudson
Jorge DeFendini, Alderman, Ward 4, Ithaca
Ducson Nguyen, Alderperson, Ithaca
Cynthia Brock, Alderperson, Ward 1, Ithaca
Tiffany Chen Kumar, Alderwoman, Ward 4, Ithaca
Robert Gesualdo Cantelmo, Councilmember, Ithaca
Phoebe Brown, Councilwoman, Ward 2, Ithaca
Reynolds Scott-Childress, Alderman Ward 3, Kingston
Steve Noble, Mayor, Kingston
Elaine Denton, Town Councilor, Manlius
Carolyn Delvecchio Hoffman, County Legislator, District 25, Monroe County
Susan Hughes-Smith, Legislator, Monroe County
Rachel Barnhart, Legislator, District 21, Monroe County
William Burgess, Legislator, District 29, Monroe County
Anthony Grice, Councilman-at-Large, Newburgh
Alexandria Wojcik, Deputy Mayor, Village of New Paltz
Kevindaryán Luján, Legislator, Newburgh District 4, Orange County
Tom Wood, Councilmember, Plattsburgh
Stanley Martin, City Council Member At-Large, Rochester
Mary Lupien, Council Vice President, Rochester
Beatriz LeBron, Vice-President, RCSD board, Rochester
Veronica D. Pillar, Legislator, District 2, Tompkins County
Kiani Conley-Wilson, Councilmember, District 5, Troy
Peter Criswell, Legislator, Ulster County
Venice Ervin, Councilman, 5th Ward, Utica
Corazon Pineda, Councilmember, District 2, Yonkers