Housing in Brief: New Yorkers Support Good Cause Eviction

Also: An update on Boston’s largest homeless encampment and rent increases across the U.S.

(Photo by Lance Grandahl on Unsplash)

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New Yorkers Approve of “Good Cause” Eviction, Poll Shows

A new poll from Data for Progress, a left-leaning think tank, found widespread support for a “Good Cause” eviction bill that would prevent evictions except in cases of nonpayment, breaking a lease or a judge’s order. The group polled 1001 people in early May, and a plurality of people across the political spectrum and from different parts of the state expressed concern about rising rents and home prices and support the bill.

The poll showed that 79% of Democrats either strongly support or “somewhat” support the legislation, as well as 50% of Republicans. The support is consistent in parts of the state with a high volume of renters as well as homeowners, with support from 72% of NYC residents polled, as well as 61% of Long Island residents and 65% of Mid-Hudson Valley residents.

Advocates are pushing to get the bill passed in the last few weeks of the legislative session but are facing an uphill battle without support from key electeds. Governor Kathy Hochul has not voiced support for the bill, although Jumaane Williams, who will face Hochul in the Democratic primary for Governor later this year, does support it. A rally by advocates in Albany led to over 50 arrests last week. In addition to limiting evictions, the legislation would cap rent hikes in all units that are not rent-stabilized at either 3% or by tying it to inflation.

Unsurprisingly, real estate lobbyists vehemently oppose the bill. “There is very, very little support for this bill among legislators — and with good reason,” a spokesman for Homeowners for An Affordable New York, a landlord lobby, told the NY Daily News.

Mayor Wu Releases Plan for Mass and Cass Encampment

Boston mayor Michelle Wu’s administration released a plan for the Mass and Cass intersection, where a sprawling homeless encampment and open-air drug market existed for years, despite numerous attempts by the city to clear it. The mayor’s new “Warm Weather Plan” is an attempt to ease the concern of neighbors about the potential for unhoused people to gather at Mass and Cass during the warmer Summer months.

Wu took office in November and cleared the encampment in January after an ACLU lawsuit to delay the sweeps was rejected by a judge. When Wu’s administration cleared the camps, 140 people were living within a quarter-mile of the intersection, according to the Boston Globe. By February, the tents were gone, but some people were beginning to congregate in the area again. Wu promised a public health approach, transitioning people into housing and providing drug treatment services outside the neighborhood. Among the criticisms from the public is that the Mass and Cass intersection had a dense concentration of drug treatment services, which attracted people selling opioids and fentanyl. A nearby treatment facility on Boston’s Long Island was recently shut down, exacerbating the problem.

Wu’s recently released plan says that the city will increase police presence as well as outreach from social workers. The city will continue to take down new tents when they go up, but with “advance notice,” although the plan does not say how far in advance. The administration also promised to open new treatment centers in neighborhoods outside Mass and Cass. However, this may be easier said than done, given the problem of NIMBYism when it comes to drug treatment and services for people experiencing homelessness.

Rising Rents Across the Country

Despite a dip in the early months of the pandemic, rents are rising at record rates in major American cities.

In Philadelphia, average rents were 16.4% higher in April than they were the year before, according to Economy League. That is nearly twice as fast as the prior year-over-year rent increase.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the lack of apartments available to rent has led to bidding wars on rental apartments. According to the article, rents in L.A. County have increased 16% from the year before. The vacancy rate in the county was the lowest it has been since 2001, according to the Times. This happened despite L.A. County’s population decreasing by 70,000 people last year, but demographic experts who talked with the Times said many of the people who left may have been families, who are less likely to be renters.

The national median rent is $1,827, according to a report released last week. That is a 16.7% increase from the year before. The highest rent increases were in Florida, specifically in Miami where rents are up 51.6% from last April. In Orlando and Tampa, they are up 32.9% and 27.8%, respectively.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: new york citybostonevictionsrent

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