HGAR Calls on State Lawmakers to Oppose ‘Good Cause’ Eviction and Pass Co-Op Transparency Bill
John Jordan | May 10, 2022
ALBANY—A contingent of more than 70 members of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and staff traveled to Albany on May 10 to lobby state lawmakers on the organization’s 2022 legislative agenda that includes staunch opposition to “Good Cause” eviction and the association’s support for statewide co-op transparency legislation, similar to laws passed in Rockland and Westchester counties recently.
The HGAR delegation was led by Legislative Co-Chair Leah Caro and HGAR President Anthony Domathoti. HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty noted that the program, part of the New York State Association of Realtors Annual Lobby Day, had the most association participants in memory. In addition, HGAR’s session with lawmakers at the State Capital lasted close to two hours and was attended by the most state Assembly members and State Senators in the history of the association’s annual Lobby Day programs.
The HGAR delegation featured members from throughout the association’s market area of Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, the Bronx and Manhattan.
The 2022 HGAR Advocacy Agenda included its support for expanded access to homeowners, including enacting a first-time homebuyer’s savings account; support for affordable workforce housing development through tax incentives and smart zoning policies; enactment of direct state funding for universal broadband Internet access and expanding state level student loan debt forgiveness. HGAR also voiced its support for a host of Fair Housing Law enhancement bills and measures that would reduce state and local real estate taxes.
HGAR met with lawmakers from Bronx and Manhattan as well as from its Hudson Valley market area. Those lawmakers from the Bronx that attended the session at Hearing Room A at the State Legislative Office Building included: Bronx Senators Luis R. Sepulveda, 32nd Dist., and Jamaal T. Bailey, 36th Dist. Bronx Assembly Members who participated in the discussion were Nathalia Fernandez, 80th Dist., Jeffrey Dinowitz, 81st Dist.; Michael Benedetto, 82nd Dist., and Kenny Burgos, 85th Dist. HGAR representatives met outside of the hearing room with Bronx Assembly Members Latoya Joyner, 77th Dist., Jose Rivera, 78th Dist., Yudelka Tapia, 86th Dist. In addition, NYSAR and HGAR’s leadership team met with Paul Upton, Deputy Chief of Staff for Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, 83rd Dist.
HGAR representatives met with Manhattan Assembly member Manny De Los Santos, 72nd Dist. on Lobby Day and Manhattan Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, 76th Dist. sent a representative to the Lobby Day session at Hearing Room A. HGAR officials noted that a meeting is expected to be held with Manhattan Senator Brian P. Kavanagh, 26th Dist. in the near future.
State Senators from the Westchester-Hudson Valley delegation who participated in the Lobby Day session with HGAR included: Shelley Mayer, 37th District; James Skoufis, 39th District; Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, 38th District; Jamaal Bailey (36th District, which includes part of Westchester and the Bronx) and Sue Serino, 41st District. Assembly Members from the Westchester-Hudson Valley region who participated were Amy Paulin, 88th District; Steve Otis, 91st District; Tom Abinanti, 92nd District and Mike Lawler, 97th District.
It should also be noted that Communications Director for Assembly Member Nader Sayegh, 90th District, Kerry Donovan, also attended the Lobby Day session and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, 35th District, met with a delegation from HGAR on Lobby Day.
A host of state lawmakers noted the drawbacks to Good Cause Eviction, but said they need to protect the interests of tenants who have been hit hard by the COVID pandemic from landlords that are in some cases large national real estate investment firms.
HGAR CEO Haggerty, who noted that there is a need for a balanced approach to the issue, responded, “That is one segment. We also have a lot of ‘mom and pop,” small landlords who have invested in real estate as a way of building wealth, a means of building generational wealth. So, the challenge is finding that middle ground that benefits both landlords and tenants in a fair way and I think that is what we all have to strive for.”
Besides Good Cause eviction legislation, HGAR also voiced its opposition to a bill that would seek to strip real estate professionals from their hard-fought independent contractor status and a bill that would establish a statewide rental control scheme on nearly all private properties in the state. State Assemblymember Amy Paulin told HGAR members that she said the “flawed” Good Cause eviction legislation does not have sufficient support to pass the State Legislature.
HGAR’s Caro informed lawmakers about the co-op transparency legislation passed in Westchester and Rockland counties and termed the state’s current lack of transparency over cooperative transactions as “the last bastion of institutionalized discrimination.”
HGAR’s Barry Kramer said that cooperatives are the popular affordable housing component in the region and providing transparency to the purchasing process will ensure that Fair Housing practices are being followed so that all segments of the population have access to this key market.
State Sen. Mayer, who has been a long-standing proponent of co-op transparency in Westchester as well as in New York State, said, “All of my communities are struggling to find affordable housing—every one of them. Your (HGAR) leadership on this issue is going to be extremely instrumental.”
She noted that families that earn $50,000 a year or less or work two jobs in Westchester find it very difficult to find rental housing in Westchester and more needs to be done on this critical issue.
“Thank you for being great partners, great advocates for our communities and have such high standards for professionalism that really many other professions should emulate,” Sen. Mayer said.
Assembly Member Steve Otis added that the Hudson Valley had an affordable housing crisis prior to the pandemic, that has only been exacerbated since then by the virus as well as rising inflation. Rep. Otis noted that the state must office more tools to provide residents with more access to affordable housing.