Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Of the Vacancy Study and the Veto

The discussion of Mayor Kamal Johnson's veto of the resolution authorizing an RFP (request of proposal) for a vacancy study to determine the city's eligibility for rent stabilization began with Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) delivering a statement in which she talked about the housing crisis and the need for rent stabilization, argued "we will never know until we do this study if we qualify or not," asserted "even if there were only two buildings that qualified there would be people who would be secure," and concluded with the appeal, "Let our people hear and see and know that we know the housing crisis is real."

When Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) suggested, "We have to address the data the mayor provided," Garriga dismissed the data, saying it was "done by a volunteer years ago." Alderman Rebecca Wolff asked more than once what constituted a vacancy study. To that question, Rosenthal noted, "We already have the inventory of property; we don't know the vacancy."

Rebecca Garrard of Citizens United, who suggested on February 5 that a vacancy study would cost $15,000 and claimed that a preliminary study had estimated there were 300 eligible units in Hudson, said that the resolution vetoed by the mayor authorized an RFP (request for proposal) for a study which was the first step in the process. She argued that the vacancy study was a "one-time investment to protect those units in perpetuity, to protect people from rent increases and provide the strongest eviction protection." Rosenthal noted that the eviction protection provided by the Statewide Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 did not apply exclusively to rent stabilized buildings.

Somewhere in the course of the discussion Garriga noted that the resolution did not state the amount to be spent, although the mayor's veto did cite $15,000, the amount suggested by Garrard in February. Garriga calculated that if there were 1,400 eligible units in Kingston and the Kingston vacancy study cost $33,000, there might be only 140 eligible units in Hudson and the study would cost $3,300. "That's the cost of reupholstering [the benches in City Hall]," Garriga declared. "I'd rather have someone secure in their apartment."

Commenting on his veto of the resolution, Johnson told the Council that it was "a little reckless to promote this as rent control, when it is not benefiting everyone." He urged, "We need to think this through, because it will not apply to everyone." Garriga responded, "I don't care if it's only six units that qualify. That means that six families are secure."

The entire conversation can be viewed in Dan Udell's video of the meeting, which can be accessed here. The conversation about the vacancy study and the veto begins at 16:25. The images in this post are screen captures from Udell's video.


  1. Alderwoman Garriga continues to confuse bloviation with leadership and has no sense of cost/benefit. The Mayor's words seem to indicate that he believes that unless a policy benefits everyone in a jurisdiction it shouldn't be adopted.

    I hope some members of government understand its purpose and how it works. These examples are not comforting.

  2. Blovation, that's a good one. Yes, let's stop throwing money around, cut some costs and get taxes down, that would benefit everyone. ...and if you want to regulate rents, regulate rents. Seems every backwards, sideways, upside down proposal is being considered to address the "rents too high" crisis, none of which will lower anyone's rent. Lower taxes might actually allow for lower rent, the spenders didn't think of that.