Building Owners & Tenants Fight in Unison Against Proposal
A major RSA effort stopped the controversial criminal background check proposal from passing after several lame-duck Council Members made an eleventh-hour attempt to enact the bill at the Council’s last Stated Meeting of the year.
Since the end of the summer, RSA and our members fought valiantly against anti-owner Council Member Stephen Levin’s Intro. 2047 and made tremendous progress ensuring that the bill would never pass. Over the last three months, RSA members and their tenants sent hundreds of messages to their local Council Member and urged them to withdraw any support from this bill. Along with RSA’s behind-the-scenes advocacy, we were able to convince a handful of Council Members to remove their names as co-sponsors of the bill, which would ultimately take away the votes needed for the bill to pass.
Soon after we went to press with December’s issue of the RSA Reporter, RSA learned that a collation of anti-owner Council Members were seeking a last-minute push of Council Member Levin’s bill as he was preparing to leave office at the end of December. In order to pass the bill, Council Member Levin partially amended the bill to make it seem as if he addressed industry concerns. In reality, the amended bill would have still banned all criminal background checks. However, the only change to the bill stated that if a prospective tenant is active on the sex offender list, they would be prohibited from renting an apartment. Furthermore, RSA located a buried provision in the amended bill that stated that only New York registered sex offenders would be barred from renting an apartment. This would have allowed registered sex offenders from other states to come to New York City and attempt to rent an apartment without the building owner having any knowledge about their registration on sex offender lists outside of New York State.
Once RSA got word that several Council Members would attempt to pass this amended bill at their last Stated Meeting of 2021 on December 15th, RSA put our efforts into overdrive. In addition to our staff increasing our lobbying efforts, we sent VoterVoice reminders and updates to our membership multiple times per day over a six-day period. This resulted in a tremendous response from our members with over 1,300 new VoterVoice messages, as well as numerous calls into various Council Members’ offices. In addition to messages from property owners, our members were able to further engage their tenants on this major effort as this dangerous proposal would have greatly impacted them as well.
After a week of intense lobbying, RSA received confirmation on December 14th that enough Council Members had removed themselves as co-sponsors of the bill, ultimately preventing it from passing at the Council this year. Although the bill could very well resurface next year, the bill’s primary sponsor, Council Member Levin, will no longer be in office. Furthermore, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who publicly stated that he supported this bill and would have signed it into law, will no longer be in office. It is unclear if Mayor-elect Eric Adams would support this proposal. However, RSA is confident that based on our relationship with him, as well as his position on certain housing policies, that we would be able to once again successfully lobby against this bill.
We acknowledge our membership for stepping up to the plate when it mattered the most. Over the years, particularly under this outgoing Administration, RSA consistently called upon our membership to participate in our efforts and we always stressed the importance of contacting your elected officials when it comes to supporting or opposing certain legislation. This victory against Intro. 2047 was a complete RSA effort and we commend our membership for your participation.