By Tamara Laine
Hundreds of social justice crusaders stormed the capital in an act of civil disobedience to fight for tenant rights. The protest was a last ditch effort to demand action on pending legislation that would strengthen protections for tenants.
One by one, they were carted away by police.
A peaceful act of civil disobedience at times turned chaotic, as protesters tried to block off major sections of the Capitol building hoping to be heard.
“People deserve to have a roof over their heads,” said Charlie Dulik, a Catholic organizer from Churches United For Fair Housing.
“There’s a million quotes in the Bible to that affect. There’s a million teachings that all of us have had in church over the years about providing for people, especially those who are most vulnerable.”
The reforms are a package of nine bills that have been proposed for renters rights, which would strengthen protections for the nearly one million rent-stabilized tenants living in New York City, as well as renters across the State.
“My own sort of fear and frustration with the housing system, coupled with seeing people on all sides of me suffering, really radicalized me in housing. That’s what brought me here,” said Peter Harrison of the Democratic Socialists of America.
This is an issue personal to many residents in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, many of whom pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent.
In a statement, State Senator Julia Salazar who introduced one of the bills and represents parts of Brooklyn said, “It’s important that New Yorkers understand that this crisis is entirely man-made. The landlord lobby has used its political power and campaign cash to write our housing laws for their own benefit.”
However, some pro-landlord organizations who have not yet returned Current New’s request for comment, have argued that reforms will put working-class landlords and contractors in a financial pinch.
State Senator Zellnor Myrie argued that now is the time to fight back.
“Too many bad landlords have gotten away with charging sky-high rents and making record profits while their buildings fall apart and their tenants struggle to feed their families,” he said.
“This is not just a housing crisis, but a moral crisis.”
They vow that this not the end of the fight.
Current regulations are scheduled to sunset on June 15, as this is an ongoing issue that continues to affect many living in Brooklyn and Queens.
Currents News will continue to cover this story as it develops this month.