WXXI AM News

Lawmakers Arrested at Rent Protest Outside Cuomo's Office

Jun 3, 2015

Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, center, sits in hall outside Governor Cuomo's office awaiting arrest over rent law protest

About two dozen tenants rights activists, as well as several Democratic State lawmakers  were  arrested at a protest on the ack of action so far on reforming New York City’s rent laws , which expire on June 15th, to include more protections for tenants.

Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, who has been in office for forty years,  says he has not been arrested for civil disobedience since the 1990’s, but feels it’s important to make a point now, as there’s been little movement on changing the rent laws, less than two weeks before they sunset.

“Stronger rent laws are absolutely essential to the future of New York,” said Gottfried. “The governor has got to take a leading role.”

Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte says thousands of residents in her district   are getting pushed out of their homes over rising rents. She says Governor Cuomo needs to be more of leader.

“Apparently he is not,” said Bichotte, who  said she's never been arrested before.. “That’s why we are right here  in front of his office, getting ready to get arrested, to make a statement.”

Cuomo was not at the Capitol, he was making appearances in the New York City suburbs to promote a property tax cap that is related through legislation, to to renewing the rent laws.

Cuomo, speaking after an event on Long Island, says he wants to increase the current $2500 a month threshold that knocks apartments out of the rent stabilized category, so that fewer apartments each year are brought onto the open market, where the rents rise steeply.

“I’m fighting not just to renew the rent laws, but also to improve and expand them,” Cuomo said.