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Cynthia Nixon unveils housing policy aimed at protecting New York renters

Nixon’s Rent Justice for All platform seeks to expand tenant protections across New York state

May Day Activists March On Wall Street Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In her bid to unseat Governor Andrew Cuomo as New York’s Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, actress-turned-gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon has so far put forth progressive proposals on climate change, marijuana legalization, and driver’s licenses for all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status.

Now, she’s unveiled another key piece of her platform—this time, around housing justice. In an event in the Bronx earlier today, Nixon announced Rent Justice for All, a series of measures intended to protect renters across the state. In New York City, the number of rental units is more than 2 million—with close to 1 million of those being rent-stabilized units—so this is policy that could have a direct impact on many city residents.

“Half of our state residents are renters, and under Governor Cuomo, New York’s renters have been left behind,” Nixon said in a statement. “Across the state, low and moderate income tenants are paying more than 50 percent of their income on rent.… I will make protecting tenants—and not corporate landlords—my priority.”

Nixon has slammed Cuomo over taking campaign contributions from some of New York’s biggest developers; according to Politico, in the last election cycle, “Cuomo raised more money from members of the Real Estate Board of New York in his first term than his Republican opponent raised from all of his donors combined.”

Among the proposals in Nixon’s rent justice platform are eliminating both the preferential rent loophole and landlords’ 20 percent vacancy bonus; expanding rent stabilization to buildings with six units or more (statewide—this is already in place in NYC); expanding tenant protections, particularly around eviction; and increasing funding to New York state’s Homes and Community Renewal agency, which works to preserve affordability across the state—and, according to Nixon, has been massively underfunded during Cuomo’s term.

Nixon has the support of several progressive groups whose focus is housing justice, including Make the Road Action and New York Communities for Change. Jonathan Westin, executive director of the latter group, called Nixon’s housing platform “the strongest tenant protection program in the country,” noting that it would “provide more than three million New Yorkers living on the brink of eviction stability and security in their homes.”

The real estate industry, unsurprisingly, is not as impressed. “Nixon would be a nightmare scenario for the real estate world,” William F. Buckley O’Reilly, a Republican strategist, recently told the Real Deal. REBNY and the Rent Stabilization Association, both of which represent landlords’ interests, also told TRD that “upending the current rent regulation framework”—which Nixon’s policies would certainly do—“would worsen the housing crisis.”