Mike started the largest municipal affordable housing program in the nation. When complete, this bold initiative will have provided affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers. Since Mike took office, nearly 94,000 units of affordable housing have been completed.1
“It is my pleasure to bring back Marvin Markus as Chairman of the Rent Guidelines Board.”
With those words, uttered on March 21, 2002, Michael Bloomberg made clear his bad intentions towards the 2 million plus New Yorkers who live in rent regulated apartments. The notorious Marvin “Markup” Markus, a Goldman Sachs investment banker, earned his nickname when he chaired the RGB from 1979 to 1984 and engineered rent increases of 11 and 14 percent.2 Bloomberg’s guy.
Here is what the Marvin Markup Markus’ Rent Guidelines Board has done since Bloomberg brought him back.
In the aftermath of September 11, RGB’s first order was a modest 2%-4% increase.
The annual increases each June thereafter were as follows:
2003 — 4.5%-7.5%
2004 — 3.5%-6.5%
2005 — 2.75%-5.5% (Bloomberg up for reelection)
2006 — 4.25%-7.25% (Post-election)
2007 — 3.0%-5.75%
2008 — 4.5%-8.5% (Bloomberg term limited and not expected to run)
2009 — 3.0%-6.0% (Bloomberg up for reelection)
If you were a tenant in a rent-stabilized apartment paying, say, $1,400 a month when Bloomberg took office, your rent would now be up to $2,294. The widely accepted rule for determining whether an apartment is affordable is that a tenant should pay no more than 33.3% of household income for rent. That means our hypothetical tenant in 2009 should be earning at least $82,584 a year.
“Mike is also protecting existing affordable housing and improving housing conditions. His administration has brought tenants and landlords together to keep more than 21,000 apartments from exiting the Mitchell-Lama program, one of the most effective middle-class housing programs in the city’s history.”
Here is how many rent stabilized apartments have been lost to the private market under Bloomberg
2003 — 7,556
2004 — 4,709
2005 — 7,378
2006 — 6,022
2007 — 5,088
2008 — 8,267
2009 — You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet.
These are only net losses. Owners place new apartments under rent stabilization because they calculate that regulation for a period of time with tax benefits and existing market conditions is more profitable than no regulation without the benefits. There are many variations on the theme of why some apartments transition into rent stabilization, including those that go from rent control to stabilization, the J-51 and 421-a programs, and so on. Often, the tenants in these newly regulated apartments end up paying higher rents.
Here is how many apartments were lost to rent stabilization during that period.
In 2002, New York City lost a total of 11,421 previously rent stabilized apartments.
In 2003, New York City lost a total of 12,692 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2004, New York City lost a total of 13,017 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2005, New York City lost a total of 14,045 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2006, New York City lost a total of 13,974 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2007, New York City lost a total of 14,205 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2008, New York City lost a total of 16,833 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
A grand total of 96,187 rent-stabilized, affordable apartments lost under Bloomberg.3
Bloomberg’s praise of Mitchell-Lama is really a whopper. My wife and I have lived for more than twenty years in what used to be a Mitchell-Lama rental complex known as Independence Plaza. It housed about 3,000 people in Lower Manhattan. Mitchell-Lama housing, where folks from every ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic group live with a substantial degree of harmony, is the single most important program in New York City — not housing program — program.
We don’t have an office of bogus statistics to prove what candidate Bloomberg wants to prove about schools, crime, affordable housing or anything else. Many independent experts have done that already. The problem is that the mainstream media won’t allow the facts to penetrate the Bloomberg Blitzkrieg. I know, as do most of the folks who live in Mitchell-Lama developments, that if the billions of dollars being sunk down the rat hole of Bloomberg’s school program in a futile effort to make separate but equal work, were instead put into a real, integrated affordable housing program such as Mitchell-Lama where the kids live in the same complexes and go to the same schools, the results would be astonishing.
We watched our neighbors’ kids grow up in our complex. Poor white, black, and Hispanic kids hung out together and attended the same schools. For the most part, they turned out great — much, much better than the usual segregated communities and schools that are the indisputable outcome, if not the lynchpin of the Bloomberg policy.
Michael Bloomberg is one stubborn, wrong-headed, and deceptive mayor. He’s fudging the statistics on schools and on just about everything else. And he isn’t about to change his ways. He’s just got to get past the nuisance of an election. Then watch out.
Here’s the story of Independence Plaza in brief. You can read about in greater detail in our archives here. I haven’t told this part of it yet.
I was the reluctant tenant association president. We had negotiated a bill with Gifford Miller, the city council speaker. It would have forced the landlord Laurence (Call me Larry) Gluck to negotiate in good faith with the tenants before being able to exit the Mitchell-Lama program and go to market rents, his stated intention. Doctoroff had already given him the go ahead to privatize the complex.
Miller had finally agreed to sponsor the bill we had negotiated with him. With the help of the Working Families Party, we had lined up more than 2/3 of the City Council, enough votes to override the certain Bloomberg veto. But this was late 2003 and Bloomberg was thinking about his re-election campaign. He didn’t want a veto. He had already taken some political punishment for his lead paint veto. Remember that?
Miller scheduled an October 29 press conference for noon to be followed by a City Council hearing on the bill. With police cars in front and in the rear, hundreds of Independence Plaza tenants marched on City Hall. Tenant leaders from other Mitchell-Lama developments came out to support the bill and us. But at 10 a.m. Bloomberg held his own press conference in City Hall’s Blue Room. With HPD commissioner, Jerilyn Perine, standing alongside, he announced a state legislative “initiative” that he claimed would extend rent stabilization to all Mitchell-Lama tenants whose developments were being privatized.
Reporters asked Joe Bruno’s spokesman to comment on the Bloomberg “initiative.” Bruno, who is now under indictment, was the Republican senate majority leader and Bloomberg’s good friend. He was also the recipient of millions of dollars of Bloomberg political money. Bruno’s spokesman said that he hadn’t had a chance to review the proposal. In fact there was no proposal. At the time, it was only a press release. The spokesman went on to say “we have not been supportive of efforts to expand rent regulation in the city.” Exactly. Nor had Bloomberg. So what was really going on?
At the hearing later that afternoon, Martin Connor, the former Democratic Senate minority leader whose district included Independence Plaza, testified that the Bloomberg proposal would “have a long wait” in Albany. “I serve in the State Senate and I can tell you the likelihood of passing legislation opposed by the real estate lobby is nil. The City Council legislation is needed and needed now.”
Jerilyn Perine, the HPD commissioner who now works for a real estate lobby and who for years had done her best to frustrate tenant efforts to hold on to their homes, also testified. She lauded the Council’s concern over the loss of affordable housing. But regrettably, she said, the agency would have to oppose the bill.
Perine had a better idea: “Let’s all work together with the governor and the state legislature to achieve passage of this crucial legislative initiative [the Bloomberg initiative] and protect the viability of this important housing stock.” She laid it on thick.
A skeptical council member asked “If you don’t get your proposal passed in Albany, what’s plan B?” “We’ll do everything we can to pass the bill. There is no plan B.” What the council members didn’t come right out and say was that there was no plan A either. It would be months before the administration actually sent a bill to Albany. Bloomberg did nothing to pass it and it now sits safely buried somewhere in the bowels of a legislative committee and in the archives of the Bloomberg/Quinn New York City government. It will not be resurrected even though the state legislature and governor’s office are occupied by Democrats. Too many of those seats have been bought and paid for by Bloomberg and the real estate lobby.
The incident calls to mind a legendary moment in the City Council in the 1970’s when Dominick Corso, a Brooklyn member, was so frustrated with a reformer that he blurted out his existential truth: ‘You think it takes guts to stand up for what is right?’ he asked. ‘That doesn’t take guts. What takes guts is to stand up for what you know is wrong, day after day, year after year. That takes guts!’”4 Bloomberg has guts.
The Albany “initiative” was hastily put together and announced two hours before Miller’s press conference. Except for the New York Times, which appeared to take it seriously, everybody knew the Bloomberg initiative was a fraud. But it worked. The feckless City Council speaker buried the bill “now that the mayor has stepped up.” He picked up some real estate contributions that he otherwise would have lost. Some 1300 once affordable apartments now bring upwards of $5,000 a month. The existing tenants managed to survive but that’s a long story and has nothing to do with this one.
Michael Bloomberg has eviscerated affordable housing, wrecked neighborhoods, and destroyed lives in the process. Give him four more years and there won’t be another affordable apartment left in New York.
It is why every legitimate tenant advocacy group in the city wants to see him defeated. We’ll all breathe a great sigh of relief to see him go — just as we did when George Bush slunk back to Texas, leaving the wreckage behind for someone else to clean up.
Let’s take back our city from these wise guys. William Thompson is a no charisma man without hundreds of millions of dollars to create a bogus image and a spurious record of achievement. He’s a moderate, and we think a well-intentioned Democrat. We admire his courage. The City needs him. We need him. Let’s support him.
 From the Bloomberg campaign site: http://www.mikebloomberg.com/index.cfm?objectid=4E5ABBA7-219B-8B95-7CE79D9EE12630E4
 The Rent Guidelines Board is the entity that establishes guidelines for rent stabilized apartments, lofts and hotels in NYC. All members are mayoral appointees.
 All statistics taken from the RGB official website.
 As cited in The Permanent Government: Who Really Runs New York?, Jack Newfield and Paul DuBrul, The Pilgrim Press New York, 1981 (Published in 1978 under the title: Abuse of Power)