As a renter and New Yorker for 35 years, I have firsthand experience with the struggles and insecurities that come with finding an affordable place to live in our city. As a minister, I witness these same struggles with my neighbors and parishioners.
New Yorkers across all ideologies can agree we are in the midst of a housing crisis. A combination of limited space, zoning regulations, rent control laws, and high construction costs have made it difficult — if not impossible — to keep up with housing demands.
Many of our elected leaders have taken these challenges seriously, offering proposals such as up-zoning, building more affordable housing units, and providing housing vouchers to assist those struggling to pay rent. However, a subset of city and state lawmakers, driven by socialist ideology, are propagating ideas that would only exacerbate our housing crisis. Chief among these problematic policies is Good Cause Eviction.
The title of the bill may sound reasonable, but it’s important to understand that so-called ‘Good Cause Eviction’ does nothing to address the housing supply shortage and would make the process of finding an affordable place to live even more difficult and expensive.
More damning, however, is the fact that Good Cause Eviction does nothing to help tenants facing eviction for non-payment, which has accounted for over 80% of all eviction filings over the past five years, on average. Instead, Good Cause Eviction is about rent control, which virtually every economist agrees reduces the supply and quality of housing.
According to a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, rent regulation “leads to reduced property values, misallocation of housing, reduced housing supply, and reduced housing quality.” The Brookings Institute has also noted that rent control “decreases affordability, fuels gentrification, and creates negative spillovers” in the long term.
The reason for this, as economists often stress, is because rent control measures like Good Cause Eviction fail to address the root cause that explains why housing is so expensive: lack of supply. And this is what makes Good Cause Eviction such a dangerous idea – it would make attracting investment capital for development nearly impossible, hindering the creation of desperately needed affordable housing.
After strict rent control measures controls passed in St. Paul, Minnesota in November 2021, there was a staggering 80% decline in issued building permits within the subsequent three months. In contrast, just across the river in Minneapolis, where rent control regulations are absent, the construction industry experienced a notable upswing. New York’s Good Cause Eviction bill bears a striking resemblance to St. Paul’s rent control policies, and if enacted here in the Empire State, we’re in for a harsh reality check.
Time and time again, we’ve seen socialist ideology thwart progress in our communities, particularly in majority Black and brown neighborhoods. Last year, one Democratic Socialist Councilmember in Harlem single-handedly killed a project that would have created over 450 units of affordable housing. The developer built a truck stop instead.
Even more concerning, just last fall, Democratic Socialist sponsors of Good Cause Eviction — accompanied by their left-wing lobbyist friends — took a trip to Vienna, Austria, to visit the Karl Marx Houses, a “social housing system” based on communist principles that was created by the socialist Austrian government in the 1920s. During and after their trip, they touted these houses as an aspirationalmodelforNewYork.
Good Cause Eviction is just another bad idea rooted in this dystopian, backward-thinking ideology — and it’s the last thing we need in New York.
The problem is low housing inventory, and the long-term solution is to build more housing. In the short term, we should protect struggling tenants by providing them with vouchers to keep them housed.
It’s time for our elected representatives in Albany to put aside ideological fallacies and focus on common-sense solutions to address the housing crisis. That’s something every New Yorker should agree on.
Reverend Conrad Tillard is a Baptist and Congregational Minister in Brooklyn and an Adjunct Professor at The City University of New York