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The Not so Surprising Cost of Living in NYC

family walking and holding hands

By Jim Sliney Jr.

In June, New York State passed a bill offering diverse protections for tenants throughout the state, including New York City. Legislation touches on eviction protections, security deposits for apartments, including unregulated renters – those without limits on rent increases.

This legislation was long-awaited, and finally possible once the Independent Democratic Conference was disbanded in the 2018 New York elections.

According to the New York Times, “For people who are very low income or even homeless, the security deposit can be a big barrier,” said Maria Foscarinis, the executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. The new regulation states that the security deposit can no longer exceed one month’s rent, and once a tenant leaves, it will be easier to get that deposit back.

The legislation also protects against retaliatory evictions. “We see tenants getting evicted in the middle of the school year and what that does to families,” said Judith Goldiner, head of the Legal Aid Society’s civil law reform unit. “The changes give these families the ability to move into a stable situation.”


The new law also puts a cap on application fees for apartments at $20. However, brokers have been found charging $100 fees on top of new “processing fees.” While, yes, there is a learning curve whenever new legislation goes into effect, few would be surprised to see that errors fall in favor of landlords rather than tenants.

“It has become a trap for the unwary,” said Mitchell Posilkin, general counsel at the Rent Stabilization Association, a group that represents 25,000 landlords. “Even the most sophisticated owners who we deal with are really perplexed about how they’re supposed to implement many of these provisions.”

In my own experience, my landlord said they would no longer be repairing or replacing appliances or construction elements if they break down; that those would be the responsibility of tenants now. No doubt there is some confusion and it is being passed down to, and further muddled by superintendents.


Rents in New York City are high. Despite efforts to increase the amount of affordable housing, renters still end up paying more and having fewer options. There are lotteries of course, and it reported that the odds of winning a housing unit are better than they’ve ever been (1 in 592), but they seem to favor middle-income families. This leaves low-income families with few viable options.

There is even a new initiative through the Department of Homeless Services requiring New Yorkers who live in homeless shelters but who have an earned income, to save up to 30% of their income towards future housing.

“The savings plan implemented by the city is something they are required to due pursuant to state law and it is certainly better than the requirement to pay rent for shelter, as is the case in other localities across the state,” Giselle Routhier at Coalition for the Homeless told Curbed in a statement.


One way Catholic Charities of New York looks at housing differently is by literally making housing. Back in July, we told you about the Second Farms building with 319 units of affordable housing in the Bronx. Which leads to another example of how CCNY really sees the issue of housing differently – through Catholic Homes New York. This is a not-for-profit organization that operates under the auspices of the Archdiocese of New York which supports the operation to build the Second Farms project and the recently completed St. Augustine Terrace. Its overall mission is to protect and preserve more than 2,336 Archdiocesan housing units. It also plans to build and additional 2,000 new affordable housing units on designated Archdiocesan and housing-corporation-owned properties.

That is just one of many agencies and services within Catholic Charities of New York that provides housing support. To see more, visit CCNY’s website detailing available resources for tenants.

Because while “errors” or “misunderstandings” will continue to fall in favor of landlords and property owners, and while potential solutions are being figured out by the city and state, there is always a place where the needs of the needy come first – Catholic Charities.