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February 2015

News

Gay City News: Corey Johnson, Advocates Press to Broaden HIV Housing Eligibility

February 27, 2015

OSBORNE-johnson-siciliano-IS

 

City Councilmember Corey Johnson and Ali Forney Center executive director Carl Siciliano at the February 26 City Hall press conference. | GAY CITY NEWS

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | Legislation that would give the benefits currently provided to people with AIDS by the city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to people who are HIV-positive but asymptomatic was introduced in the City Council, but it likely faces an uphill battle to be enacted.

“We recognize that HIV is an epidemic that thrives on inequality,” said Corey Johnson, the city councilmember who represents Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, and the West Village, at a February 26 press conference at City Hall. “To fight it, we must keep our focus on the socioeconomic factors that have allowed it to continue for all of these years –– poverty, homelessness, and a lack of access to healthcare.”

Currently, people who have an AIDS diagnosis or “clinical symptomatic HIV illness” and meet the financial need requirements are eligible for HASA’s package of benefits, which includes rental assistance, food stamps, enrollment in Medicaid, and transportation assistance. HASA, which is a unit of the city’s Human Resources Administration, serves just over 32,000 people with AIDS and another 11,000 family members.

Giving assistance to up to 15,000 positive but without AIDS diagnosis sought in City Council measure

Anti-HIV drugs have significantly reduced the number of people who progress from HIV-positive to AIDS so HASA’s qualifying definitions have barred HIV-positive people who are healthy but in need of assistance from accessing the agency’s services. Advocates have sought to change the qualifications for HASA services since 2007.

Some science supports the view that stable housing helps HIV-positive people stay on their anti-HIV drugs and healthy. HIV-positive people who stay on their anti-HIV drugs and have no detectable virus in their blood are far less likely to infect others.

Advocates, including the roughly two dozen groups that support the City Council legislation, promoted a state plan to reduce new HIV infections in New York from the current roughly 3,000 a year to 750 by 2020, which they say would “end” AIDS as an epidemic in New York. In that plan, they sought expanded housing and benefits for people with HIV in the state budget, but with limited success.

The Cuomo administration proposed spending $116 million over five years to build 5,000 housing units spread broadly among people with special needs, people with HIV, and the homeless. That money is from a one-time $440 million lawsuit settlement. There are an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people with HIV statewide who need housing assistance.

Expanding HASA to include financially qualified HIV-positive people could cost $100 million annually, with half that cost borne by the state. Over time, it could add 10,000 to 15,000 people to HASA’s caseload, though that estimate could decline as the HIV prevention elements of the state plan are implemented.

The City Council legislation is viewed by advocates as integral to the state plan to end AIDS.

“The science is clear, the path forward is clear,” said Johnson, who is openly gay and HIV-positive. “It is a matter of leadership, it is a matter of resources. We all know what to do to end this epidemic. It is time for elected officials at all levels of government to fulfill their moral duty and obligation and end this epidemic.”

When this legislation was first introduced in the City Council in 2007, it was opposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian who represented Johnson’s district, as too expensive. The legislation, as reintroduced, has seven co-sponsors in the 51-member City Council.

Advocates have reported that the HASA-qualifying definitions have led to the perverse result of some HIV-positive people avoiding anti-HIV drugs so they progress to AIDS and can obtain HASA benefits.

“One of the most gruesome things we hear at the Ali Forney Center is our young people who have been recently diagnosed in their desperation to get shelter and housing will forsake taking the medication because they want to be eligible for the current HASA guidelines,” said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the group, which helps homeless LGBT youth.

Gina Quattrochi, the chief executive officer of Bailey House, an AIDS housing group, described a conversation with a friend whose son was recently diagnosed as HIV-positive. He was struggling to find housing and the mother asked for advice.

“I had to ask that stupid question that we have to ask every time, ‘Does he have AIDS?’” Quattrochi said. “If we are serious about ending this epidemic… we have to provide housing.”

News

Edge Media Network: Council Member Corey Johnson Unveils ‘HASA for All’ Legislation

February 27, 2015

On February 26, NYC Council Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson was joined by elected officials and advocates for public health, homelessness & HIV/AIDS at City Hall, to unveil long-sought legislation that would expand HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) benefits to all low-income, HIV-positive New York City residents.

“HIV/AIDS is a disease of inequities,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “Poverty, homelessness and a lack of access to healthcare are conditions that fuel the epidemic. The inability to obtain housing, food and other basic subsistence needs results in disconnection from HIV care, failure to achieve and maintain viral suppression, an increased risk of transmitting HIV to others. Our shared vision of ending the AIDS epidemic in our state by 2020 will remain out of reach if we do not connect persons living with HIV access to proven intervention strategies.”

HIV/AIDS activists lauded the move as a key step in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York State. Allowing more individuals to qualify for housing, nutrition and transportation services through HASA will give low-income, HIV-positive individuals a foundation from which HIV treatment and care can be fully managed, reducing community viral loads and preventing significant numbers of new infections.

Current HASA regulations require those who receive benefits from HASA to have an AIDS diagnosis or symptomatic HIV infection, meaning a T-cell count of 200 or less or two opportunistic infections, such as pneumocystis carinii pneumonia or toxoplasmosis. This legislation would expand this definition to include individuals with asymptomatic HIV.

“It is heartbreaking when New Yorkers living with HIV come to GMHC in desperate need of housing and other assistance, only to find out that they are ‘too healthy’ to be eligible for HASA benefits,” said Kelsey Louie, GMHC’s CEO. “No one should have to wait until they have an AIDS diagnosis to receive the life-saving support proven to not only help them stay healthy, but also prevent new HIV infections. Thank you Council Member Corey Johnson for ensuring equal access to HASA’s housing and support services. This bill is critical to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020.”

The HASA system has been extremely effective delivering coordinated benefits and services. For decades, the program has provided a single point of entry for access to enhanced rental assistance, case management and other public benefits, including a transportation allowance.

Eligibility for the program is currently tied under NYC local law to a NYS Department of Health AIDS Institute definition of HIV-related illness (more recently described as “clinical/symptomatic HIV infection”), a definition that has not been changed since the mid-1990s, is now out of date and no longer used by the AIDS Institute for any purpose. Furthermore, this definition is inconsistent with current treatment guidelines and HIV prevention strategies.

“The impact of HIV is not limited to the medical aspects of the disease; they are in fact much greater and more complicated, and powerfully influence basic human needs like housing,” said Carrie Davis, Chief Programs and Policy Officer at New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. “By expanding HASA’s medical eligibility to include asymptomatic HIV, Council Member Johnson is helping New Yorkers who live with HIV gain the equal footing they need to address the disease and be productive, healthy citizens.”

 

Council Member Corey Johnson  (Source:Winnie McCroy)

In New York City, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people with HIV — including 800 or more who reside in NYC shelters on any given night — remain medically ineligible for the publicly funded HIV-specific non-shelter housing assistance, case management and transportation allowance that are provided for persons with symptomatic HIV infection through HASA. Homeless people with asymptomatic HIV infection are often forced into the Hobson’s choice of initiating treatment and remaining homeless or delaying treatment until they qualify for rental assistance or supportive housing.

A large body of research demonstrates that homelessness and unstable housing are strongly associated with greater HIV risk, inadequate HIV health care, poor health outcomes, and early death. A 2005 New York City study found the rate of new HIV diagnoses among homeless persons sixteen times the rate in the general population, and death rates due to HIV/AIDS five to seven times higher among homeless persons. For people living with HIV, lack of stable housing poses barriers to engagement in care and treatment success at each point in the HIV care continuum.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic is one that is fueled by poverty,” said Jim Bolas, Executive Director at Coalition for Homeless Youth. “This legislation, if passed, would allow our homeless HIV positive youth in NYC to finally access the essential, life-saving services that are needed to keep themselves healthy, and reduce the spread of the virus and potential risks to their lives.”

Numerous studies consistently find that PWH who lack stable housing are more likely to delay HIV testing and entry into care following HIV diagnosis, more likely to experience discontinuous care (dropping in and out of care and/or changing providers often), less likely to be on antiretroviral therapy and are less likely achieve sustained viral suppression. With homelessness being one of the primary drivers of the spread of HIV and the progression of the virus into AIDS, if passed, this legislation would have a direct impact on the dual crises of HIV/AIDS and homelessness, particularly among LGBT youth.

“HASA for all takes the important next step of expanding HASA benefits to all people with HIV before they get sick,” said Council Member Steve Levin, Chair of Committee on General Welfare. “Providing life-saving services to New Yorkers in need is the right thing to do and I’m proud to support HASA for all. Thank you to Council Member Corey Johnson for introducing this legislation.”

Expanding HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) benefits for all low income New Yorkers living with HIV is essential in the struggle toward containing and eventually eradicating this epidemic echoed Council Member Annabel Palma.

“We can only end the AIDS epidemic through bold leadership from local government representatives like NYC Council Member Corey Johnson,” said Charles King, CEO/President of Housing Works. “People with HIV need access to housing and essential services, and we look forward to our leaders in Albany working with local elected officials across the state to end AIDS.”

News

Gay City News: Corey Johnson, Advocates Press to Broaden HIV Housing Eligibility

February 27, 2015

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
February 27, 2015

Legislation that would give the benefits currently provided to people with AIDS by the city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to people who are HIV-positive but asymptomatic was introduced in the City Council, but it likely faces an uphill battle to be enacted.

“We recognize that HIV is an epidemic that thrives on inequality,” said Corey Johnson, the city councilmember who represents Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, and the West Village, at a February 26 press conference at City Hall. “To fight it, we must keep our focus on the socioeconomic factors that have allowed it to continue for all of these years –– poverty, homelessness, and a lack of access to healthcare.”

Currently, people who have an AIDS diagnosis or “clinical symptomatic HIV illness” and meet the financial need requirements are eligible for HASA’s package of benefits, which includes rental assistance, food stamps, enrollment in Medicaid, and transportation assistance. HASA, which is a unit of the city’s Human Resources Administration, serves just over 32,000 people with AIDS and another 11,000 family members.

Anti-HIV drugs have significantly reduced the number of people who progress from HIV-positive to AIDS so HASA’s qualifying definitions have barred HIV-positive people who are healthy but in need of assistance from accessing the agency’s services. Advocates have sought to change the qualifications for HASA services since 2007.

Some science supports the view that stable housing helps HIV-positive people stay on their anti-HIV drugs and healthy. HIV-positive people who stay on their anti-HIV drugs and have no detectable virus in their blood are far less likely to infect others.

Advocates, including the roughly two dozen groups that support the City Council legislation, promoted a state plan to reduce new HIV infections in New York from the current roughly 3,000 a year to 750 by 2020, which they say would “end” AIDS as an epidemic in New York. In that plan, they sought expanded housing and benefits for people with HIV in the state budget, but with limited success.

The Cuomo administration proposed spending $116 million over five years to build 5,000 housing units spread broadly among people with special needs, people with HIV, and the homeless. That money is from a one-time $440 million lawsuit settlement. There are an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people with HIV statewide who need housing assistance.

Expanding HASA to include financially qualified HIV-positive people could cost $100 million annually, with half that cost borne by the state. Over time, it could add 10,000 to 15,000 people to HASA’s caseload, though that estimate could decline as the HIV prevention elements of the state plan are implemented.

The City Council legislation is viewed by advocates as integral to the state plan to end AIDS.

“The science is clear, the path forward is clear,” said Johnson, who is openly gay and HIV-positive. “It is a matter of leadership, it is a matter of resources. We all know what to do to end this epidemic. It is time for elected officials at all levels of government to fulfill their moral duty and obligation and end this epidemic.”

When this legislation was first introduced in the City Council in 2007, it was opposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian who represented Johnson’s district, as too expensive. The legislation, as reintroduced, has seven co-sponsors in the 51-member City Council.

Advocates have reported that the HASA-qualifying definitions have led to the perverse result of some HIV-positive people avoiding anti-HIV drugs so they progress to AIDS and can obtain HASA benefits.

“One of the most gruesome things we hear at the Ali Forney Center is our young people who have been recently diagnosed in their desperation to get shelter and housing will forsake taking the medication because they want to be eligible for the current HASA guidelines,” said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the group, which helps homeless LGBT youth.

Gina Quattrochi, the chief executive officer of Bailey House, an AIDS housing group, described a conversation with a friend whose son was recently diagnosed as HIV-positive. He was struggling to find housing and the mother asked for advice.

“I had to ask that stupid question that we have to ask every time, ‘Does he have AIDS?’” Quattrochi said. “If we are serious about ending this epidemic… we have to provide housing.”

News

GMHC: GMHC Thanks Councilmember Corey Johnson for Introducing Legislation benefitting Low-Income, HIV-Positive New Yorkers

February 26, 2015

Media Contact: Krishna Stone | 212.367.1016/cell: 646.280.5948 | krishnas@gmhc.org

GMHC Thanks Councilmember Corey Johnson for Introducing Legislation That Will Enable Low-Income, HIV-Positive New Yorkers Who Do Not Have an AIDS Diagnosis to Access HASA Housing and Support Resources

 

New York, NY–The following is a statement from Kelsey Louie, Chief Executive Officer of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) on today’s introduction of new city legislation that will enable low-income, HIV-positive New Yorkers who do not have an AIDS diagnosis to access HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) housing and support resources.

“It is heartbreaking when New Yorkers living with HIV come to GMHC in desperate need of housing and other assistance, only to find out that they are ‘too healthy’ to be eligible for HASA benefits,” said Kelsey Louie, GMHC’s CEO. “No one should have to wait until they have an AIDS diagnosis to receive the life-saving support proven to not only help them stay healthy, but also prevent new HIV infections. Thank you Council Member Corey Johnson for ensuring equal access to HASA’s housing and support services. This bill is critical to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020.”

 

Council Member Corey Johnson’s Press Release:

 

THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
OFFICE OF COUNCIL MEMBER COREY JOHNSON

224 West 30th Street, #1206
New York, NY 10001
(212) 564-7757

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

February 26, 2016
Contact: Erik Bottcher, o: 212-564-7757, c: 646-612-0257 ebottcher@council.nyc.gov

Council Member Corey Johnson, Elected Officials and HIV/AIDS Advocates Unveil “HASA for All” Legislation

Key to Ending the Epidemic, Bill Would Change HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) Medical Eligibility to Include all Persons with HIV Infection

City Hall–NYC Council Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson was joined today by elected officials and advocates for public health, homelessness & HIV/AIDS to unveil long-sought legislation that would expand HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) benefits to all low-income, HIV-positive New York City residents.

HIV/AIDS activists lauded the move as a key step in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York State. Allowing more individuals to qualify for housing, nutrition and transportation services through HASA will give low-income, HIV-positive individuals a foundation from which HIV treatment and care can be fully managed, reducing community viral loads and preventing significant numbers of new infections.

Current HASA regulations require those who receive benefits from HASA to have an AIDS diagnosis or symptomatic HIV infection, meaning a T-cell count of 200 or less or two opportunistic infections, such as pneumocystis carinii pneumonia or toxoplasmosis. Council Member Johnson’s legislation would expand this definition to include individuals with asymptomatic HIV.

“HIV/AIDS is a disease of inequities,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Council’s Health Committee. “Poverty, homelessness and a lack of access to healthcare are conditions that fuel the epidemic. The inability to obtain housing, food and other basic subsistence needs results in disconnection from HIV care, failure to achieve and maintain viral suppression, an increased risk of transmitting HIV to others. Our shared vision of ending the AIDS epidemic in our State by 2020 will remain out of reach if we do not connect persons living with HIV access to proven intervention strategies.”

The HASA system has been extremely effective delivering coordinated benefits and services. For decades, the program has provided a single point of entry for access to enhanced rental assistance, case management and other public benefits, including a transportation allowance.

Eligibility for the program is currently tied under NYC local law to a NYS Department of Health AIDS Institute definition of HIV-related illness (more recently described as “clinical/symptomatic HIV infection”), a definition that has not been changed since the mid-1990s, is now out of date and no longer used by the AIDS Institute for any purpose. Furthermore, this definition is inconsistent with current treatment guidelines and HIV prevention strategies.

In New York City, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people with HIV – including 800 or more who reside in NYC shelters on any given night – remain medically ineligible for the publicly funded HIV-specific non-shelter housing assistance, case management and transportation allowance that are provided for persons with symptomatic HIV infection through HASA. Homeless people with asymptomatic HIV infection are often forced into the Hobson’s choice of initiating treatment and remaining homeless or delaying treatment until they qualify for rental assistance or supportive housing.

A large body of research demonstrates that homelessness and unstable housing are strongly associated with greater HIV risk, inadequate HIV health care, poor health outcomes, and early death. A 2005 New York City study found the rate of new HIV diagnoses among homeless persons sixteen times the rate in the general population, and death rates due to HIV/AIDS five to seven times higher among homeless persons. For people living with HIV, lack of stable housing poses barriers to engagement in care and treatment success at each point in the HIV care continuum.

Numerous studies consistently find that PWH who lack stable housing are more likely to delay HIV testing and entry into care following HIV diagnosis, more likely to experience discontinuous care (dropping in and out of care and/or changing providers often), less likely to be on antiretroviral therapy and are less likely achieve sustained viral suppression. With homelessness being one of the primary drivers of the spread of HIV and the progression of the virus into AIDS, if passed, this legislation would have a direct impact on the dual crises of HIV/AIDS and homelessness, particularly among LGBT youth.

“HASA for all takes the important next step of expanding HASA benefits to all people with HIV before they get sick,” said Council Member Steve Levin, Chair of Committee on General Welfare. “Providing life-saving services to New Yorkers in need is the right thing to do and I’m proud to support HASA for all. Thank you to Council Member Corey Johnson for introducing this legislation.”

“Expanding HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) benefits for all low income New Yorkers living with HIV is essential in our struggle towards containing–and eventually eradicating–this epidemic,” said Council Member Annabel Palma. “HASA’s medical eligibility requirements need to illustrate that individuals with HIV are increasingly seeking treatment earlier, to prevent the development of AIDS. I have been a diligent proponent of this eligibility expansion since 2008, and it’s time to update the eligibility requirements to include the thousands of New Yorkers who are in need of housing and vital services, and who are unable to receive full benefits. The city needs to make investments that keep these individuals in their own homes, and out of expensive HASA emergency shelters.”

“People living with HIV/AIDS are our families, friends, and neighbors and they need our support,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “Many people living with HIV/AIDS must devote a large chunk of their income to medical care leaving them without the means for necessities like rent, food and transportation. The city and state need to step up their housing, nutrition and transportation support for this community and show them that we care.”

“This bill is the difference between homelessness and housing for thousands of New Yorkers living with HIV,” said Jennifer Flynn, Executive Director of VOCAL. “In other words, this piece of legislation is perhaps one of the most important thing that we can do to advance the end of the AIDS epidemic. We can end AIDS, we can end homelessness. Councilmember Johnson is doing his part. Now it’s up to all of us to make this the law.”

“We can only end the AIDS epidemic through bold leadership from local government representatives like NYC Council Member Corey Johnson,” said Charles King, CEO/President of Housing Works. “People with HIV need access to housing and essential services, and we look forward to our leaders in Albany working with local elected officials across the state to end AIDS.”

“It is heartbreaking when New Yorkers living with HIV come to GMHC in desperate need of housing and other assistance, only to find out that they are ‘too healthy’ to be eligible for HASA benefits,” said Kelsey Louie, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). “No one should have to wait until they have an AIDS diagnosis to receive the life-saving support proven to not only help them stay healthy, but also prevent new HIV infections. Thank you Council Member Corey Johnson for ensuring equal access to HASA’s housing and support services. This bill is critical to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020.”

“The impact of HIV is not limited to the medical aspects of the disease; they are in fact much greater and more complicated, and powerfully influence basic human needs like housing,” said Carrie Davis, Chief Programs and Policy Officer at New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. “By expanding HASA’s medical eligibility to include asymptomatic HIV, Council Member Johnson is helping New Yorkers who live with HIV gain the equal footing they need to address the disease and be productive, healthy citizens.”

“We commend Council Member Corey Johnson and VOCAL-NY for going one step further in helping to protect New Yorkers and put an end to the HIV/AIDS crisis by introducing legislation that would extend the HASA’s eligibility,” said Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer. “Passage of this life-saving legislation will ensure a healthier New York City.”

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic is one that is fueled by poverty,” said Jim Bolas, Executive Director at Coalition for Homeless Youth. “This legislation, if passed, would allow our homeless HIV positive youth in NYC to finally access the essential, life-saving services that are needed to keep themselves healthy, and reduce the spread of the virus and potential risks to their lives.”

###

About Gay Men’s Health Crisis

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) is the nation’s leading provider of HIV/AIDS care, prevention services and advocacy, serving nearly 9,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in New York City, the epidemic’s largest U.S. epicenter. As the world’s first HIV and AIDS service organization GMHC is an expert in providing services that every person affected by the epidemic deserves. GMHC is on the front lines caring for people who are both HIV negative and positive, including: testing, nutrition, legal, mental health and education services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal level with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020. Most recently, GMHC and other HIV/AIDS organizations successfully persuaded the federal government to recommend widespread use of PrEP, a new daily treatment that is over 90% effective in preventing HIV infection. For more information, visit www.gmhc.org.

News

Town & Village Blog: Bill would change how RGB calculates landlords’ costs

February 2, 2015

Rent Guidelines Board tenant members Sheila Garcia and Harvey Epstein (at podium) with Council Member Corey Johnson (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The City Council member representing Greenwich Village, Corey Johnson, has called on the mayor to reform the Rent Guidelines Board and eliminate the price index from the calculations used to determine the annual rent adjustments for stabilized tenants. Elected officials and tenant advocates joined Johnson at City Hall last Thursday to support his legislation on the matter because they say that the Price Index of Operating Costs (PIOC) does not accurately reflect the costs and revenues accrued by landlords, causing unfair increases for tenants.

The price index doesn’t measure what owners actually spend running buildings but instead estimates their costs based on changes in prices for goods and services, like utilities, without taking changes into account, like the weather. The price index also doesn’t measure any of the income received on the properties.

“The PIOC overestimates landlords’ expenses by as much as one third and doesn’t measure income,” Johnson said. “Tenants deserve a fair shot. The 2.5 million rent-stabilized tenants in New York deserve a metric that accounts for actual income and expenses.”

Mike McKee of TenantsPAC said that the price index study is “an enormous amount of work” and that there is nothing in the law that requires the board to use the data from the study in their decision.

The RGB does receive landlords’ income and expense data from annual filings with the Department of Finance, which shows that the price index overestimates owners’ operating costs, but the information is 15 months out of date.

“What the mayor should do is instruct them not to do a price index study this year and he should instruct the Department of Finance to provide current income and expense data,” McKee said.

McKee also noted that the Rent Guidelines Boards for Westchester and Nassau County do not use a price index in their calculations, and both boards have frozen their rents before, while the RGB in New York City never has. Westchester and Nassau requires landlords to file income and expense reports with the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal for the current year, while the data that the NYC RGB gets from the Department of Finance is old.

“It would be a tight timeframe but they could do it,” McKee said, noting that former DOF Commissioner Martha Stark had testified to the RGB that they would be able to get more current data if required. “Even landlords are always saying that the numbers are out of date.”

RGB tenant members Sheila Garcia and Harvey Epstein were at the rally in support of the legislation, with Epstein leading a cheer that was popular prior to the historically low increases last year: “What do we want? Rent freeze! When do we want it? Now!”

Epstein, who is associate director of the Urban Justice Center, urged the mayor to pass the legislation because of the need for accurate data for rent-stabilized tenants.

“Unfortunately, the price index and current income and expense data does not provide us good information,” he said. “These resolutions, including getting rid of the price index, will provide the RGB with more accurate data to serve the needs of all New Yorkers by setting rent increases to owners’ actual income and expenses as well as tenant needs.”

Johnson also recently introduced legislation that would require owners to submit income and expense statements to the Department of Finance for residential properties with six to 10 units. Currently, owners only need to submit data for buildings with 11 or more units but tenant advocates said that since rent stabilization can apply to buildings with six units or more, the requirements should reflect that.