New York City Story
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5070/S529059362
This comic strip is my response to hearing that mayor Eric Adams has called for an 6% rent increase for New York Cities’ rent stabilized tenants. The rent stabilization laws protect a large number of NYC tenants by limiting the size of rent increases a landlord can charge on the renewal of a lease. In recent years those increases were about 1% or 2%, but the new mayor has proposed 6%, a significant escalation.
Many justifications have been advanced for this increase. The rising cost of gas. The fact that the previous administration kept rent increases to a minimum. The two-year moratorium on evictions during COVID. I felt that the only way to explain how devastating this reversal in policy was going to be, was to present the overall trajectory of the housing situation in NYC, not over years, but decades.
When I came to NYC in the 1970s it was pretty easy to find an affordable place to live, even if you were poor. It was a city where someone could start at the bottom and work their way up. This is not true anymore. Many longtime residents have been forced to leave, and many young people, starting out, are locked out of this city.
This transition did not happen easily. It involved violent clashes, evictions, demolitions and riots. I have often compared this to a war. This was a traumatic and injurious process. To increase rents further at the end of such a process, is to ‘add insult to injury. to “pour salt in our wounds”. At a time when people really need healing and compensation for their losses, they are instead suffering further abuse. I think that, when viewed in the proper historical context, the policies of the Adams administration appear to be quite reactionary and at odds with the lived experience of many New Yorkers. We should not stand for this. We deserve better.