But this fight continues to go on. In New York City, the rent control and rent stabilization laws are vital to the lives of over two million tenants, many of whom are on fixed incomes or are senior citizens.
In fact, there are approximately 255,000 senior New Yorkers, defined as 62 years of age or older, who live in rent stabilized or rent controlled apartments.
That is why last month, on March 31st, I signed into law a bill that extended tenant protection and rent stabilization laws in New York City for another three years. Now it's in the hands of the State Legislature and the Governor to extend those laws by June 15th.
According to State and City law, every three years the City is required to determine whether a public emergency continues to exist with regard to the City's housing stock.
On behalf of the City, the U.S. Census Bureau in conjunction with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, conducts the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey.
The 1996 survey has calculated the City's overall vacancy rate at 4.01%, well below the 5% rate at which the law would require that rent regulations be terminated.
More importantly, the survey reports that the shortage of affordable housing rental units for low-income households in the city is severe. The vacancy rate in 1996 for units with asking rents of less than $300 was 1.46%. For units with rents from $300 to $499, the vacancy rate was less than 3.6%.
While the survey also shows the inventory of residential units has remained stable, structural and maintenance conditions remained very good, and the quality of neighborhood conditions has improved, it's clear that there are still significant housing shortages and there's still much more to be done to provide decent and affordable rental housing for low-income and moderate income New Yorkers.
Given the housing shortage and the resulting public emergency outlined in the 1996 report, and the fact that the New York City Council and I have extended the rent stabilization and tenant protection laws, I again urge both houses of the State Legislature and Governor Pataki to act before June 15th and lay to rest the legitimate fears of the more than 2.4 million New Yorkers in rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments. These laws should be continued.
The City will continue to fight for the extension of rent regulations for New Yorkers because it's our responsibility to do everything we can to protect affordable housing and to prevent the undue hardship that would occur in the event that these laws were to expire.
From Gracie Mansion, this is Rudy Giuliani.