[OPE-L:5254] RE: rent control and real wages

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Thu, 12 Jun 1997 20:07:36 -0700 (PDT)

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In ope-l 5245, Jerry wrote:

"the most likely compromise ... would "de-control" an apartment when it became
vacant [when someone voluntarily vacates or dies]. Such a "compromise" would
protect _for now_ m[o]st low-income tenants ...."

Don't bet on it. "Voluntarily" does not mean voluntarily. Landlords will
harass the hell out of us to make us move -- turn off heat, don't replace
lights in hallways, don't control rats, let junkies in vacant apartments, etc.
They have every incentive to do so, and that was indeed the experience when
they tried vacancy decontrol before. What's worse is that nowadays the courts
are stacked against us (the mayor's key Latino supporter [Badillo] is a
partner in a big landlord law firm) and funding to the housing board has been

Tenants realize this. I was at the rent control demonstration this evening,
and "Vacancy Decontrol = Evictions" signs were everywhere. The demo was
pretty good. It was fairly large, and militant enough that the cops forced us
into small groups so they could control us. It was conceptually better than
the inane chanting of inane slogans that usually goes on. It started that
way: "Hey, hey, ho, ho; George Pakati's got to go," (Pataki is state
governor), but when they started arresting those who sat down, the chant
changed to "arrest Pataki," which went beyond the legalistic framework into
which the major tenants groups have self-limited the fight against
deregulation. However, it is still the case that no *positive* content is
emerging from this fight; we're fighting to hold on to what we have, but no
one except Marxist-Humanists seems to be articulating a philosophy of human
liberation that makes this fight to retain what we have part of something
positive rather than a retrogressive attempt to "hold onto the past" in a
"changing world."

Andrew Kliman