Newburgh residents pressure city for action on rent control as they are priced out of apartments
Newburgh residents are pressuring the city to move forward on rent control as they get priced out of their apartments.
Harold Smith and his 8-year-old daughter are living the housing crisis.
"I just don't have any other choice, but I make it work," Smith said as he arrived at a food distribution on Ann Street.
After their crumbling Dubois Street apartment was condemned earlier this year, they lived in three hotels for over five months until they finally found a small rental under $2,000 a month.
Smith said landlords are on a tear, and the city must rein in rents that are now out of control.
"They're ... buying up all the buildings, tearing them down, rebuilding them back up, and then charging these insane prices," Smith explained. "So that's what's going on."
Newburgh city administrators are currently doing a rental vacancy study.
If the study shows a vacancy rate of less than 5% in Newburgh, the state will allow the city to form a Rent Guidelines Board.
That board would have power to guarantee lease renewals, set monthly rents and limit yearly rent increases.
Several tenants and some landlords testified before the City Council this week, imploring the members to move more quickly on the vacancy study.
Administrators started the study over this past summer.
They have not finished.
"It's just slow going," Ward 2 City Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde said in a Zoom interview Friday afternoon, adding that she hopes administrators finish the study by the end of this year.
Monteverde, also a landlord, said that despite the costs and stress of owning rental properties, she still wants rent control.
She said she regularly receives calls and emails from constituents on the verge of being priced out of their apartments.
"They're very concerned and afraid that they can no longer stay in the city of Newburgh," she said. "So, they're obviously being displaced."
Most communities that have done vacancy studies and found vacancy rates below 5% are in the New York City area.
In the Mid-Hudson region, just Kingston has finished the study and implemented rent control.
Those new policies are now being challenged in court.
News 12 reached out to multiple landlords and the Orange County Landlords Association for comment on this story and is awaiting responses.
Monteverde said she has not received letters or phone calls in opposition of rent control in Newburgh.