PRESS RELEASE September 15, 2015 For Immediate Release

Contact:  Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
212-475-9585 x38 or 917-533-1767 or

Affordable Housing Advocates and Preservationists Slam
REBNY’s False and Misleading Claims

The author of the data used by REBNY in their recent report “Rent Stabilized Units in Landmarked Properties” today refuted the conclusions of REBNY’s study, and generated a more accurate analysis of the data which showed that landmarked areas actually often preserved their rent stabilized units at a higher rate than their non-landmarked counterparts in the same neighborhood.

Said John Krauss (, the source of the dataset used by REBNY:

“I am disappointed to see REBNY claim the rent stabilization data I gathered from tax bills proves that landmarking does not protect rent stabilized apartments.  Most apartments leave stabilization through “high-rent vacancy” decontrol, which requires that the rent of an apartment be higher than $2,700 when a new lease is signed.  Their study does not control for neighborhood rents.  All they have shown is that landmark areas have higher rent.  The loss of regulated units in such areas could have been worse without landmarking.  Without landmarks, developers would be incentivized to buy out existing stabilized tenants and replace the buildings.

“Comparing changes in non-421a rent stabilization between 2007 and 2014 by community board shows that landmark areas preserved their stabilized units better than their non-landmark counterparts in many neighborhoods.  The Upper East Side (CB8), for example, lost over 28% of its stabilized units in non-landmark buildings (14996 registered in 2007 and 10755 in 2014), but less than 10% in landmark buildings (2461 registered in 2007, 2215 in 2014).  This data can be found here.”

Furthermore, many stabilized units from 421a in new buildings are not affordable.  Looking at the same tax bills REBNY did, it’s easy to find new buildings, 100% stabilized, whose average rent per unit is estimated by the Department of Finance to be upwards of $4000/month.  New construction of stabilized units does not mean affordability.

I am also disappointed that REBNY has violated the stabilization data’s terms and conditions.  The stabilization data is clearly marked as being under a CC-by-SA license, which requires that in addition to attribution they must share their report and data under the same license.  Their report does not include the underlying data, and does not include a CC-by-SA license statement as required.  I look forward to their amending the report to be in compliance with the data’s terms and conditions.”

Said Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, affordable housing advocate and author of “Preservation Can Contribute to Affordability”:

“REBNY’s claim that because of landmark designation more rent-stabilized units are being lost in neighborhoods like Greenwich Village than in Washington Heights, or in Brooklyn Heights than in Brownsville, is as ludicrous as it is irresponsible and false.  A more accurate comparison of the loss of stabilized units in landmarked as compared to non-landmarked areas of the same neighborhood shows that rent stabilized units are often better preserved in the landmarked parts of the neighborhood, which is not a surprise given the anti-demolition protections which come with landmarking.”

REBNY’s disingenuousness is flabbergasting.  If they really cared about the loss of rent-regulated units, they would be lobbying for the repeal of vacancy and luxury decontrol, which they helped get instituted in the 1990s, as affordable housing advocates have been doing for years.  But they will never do that, because their true agenda is not the preservation of affordable housing, but rather the removal of any impediments to their being able to demolish and build new luxury high-rise anywhere, anytime.

For REBNY, a main architect our city’s affordability crisis, to blame landmarking for the loss of rent regulated units is like pouring gasoline on the house next door, tossing a lighted match, and then pointing to the fire as evidence that your neighbor is a bad caretaker of their property.

It’s no surprise that a group which has spent the last two decades fighting every affordable housing measure in New York would keep churning out statistically unsound and specious reports like this that blame preservation of buildings, of all things, for our city’s affordability crisis.  REBNY has spent the last two decades pouring millions of dollars into efforts to ensure that affordability measures in New York are blocked, stripped, or repealed, as we documented in our report Check the Facts & Consider the Source: Campaign Cash and REBNY’s Real Record on Affordable Housing, and now they are trying to do the same thing with preservation.

Said Harvey Epstein (, Associate Director of the Urban Justice Center, a non-profit which advocates for New York’s most vulnerable residents, including those in affordable housing:

“In reviewing REBNY position, I find it with little merit.    That data that REBNY relies on does not support the position that landmarking hurts affordable housing.  The facts and logic support the opposite position.   Landmarking prevents demolition of sound residential buildings and therefore preserves those rent stabilized tenants who reside inside those building.   Demolition of buildings can only lead to displacement of existing residents.”

More information can be found here.

September 15, 2015