Like thousands of tenants who live in rent-stabilized apartments, Pendergrass’s Brooklyn apartment has preferential rent.
“You get it below market rate,” she explained. “And when you renew the lease, it goes up to market rate.”
Fortunately for Pendergrass, she’s a member of the housing group New York Communities for Change, which allowed her to understand some of the protections afforded to rent-stabilized tenants in New York City.
But Pendergrass realized that her upstate counterparts, in metro areas like Buffalo and Rochester, do not have the same protections. That’s why she joined the Upstate-Downstate Housing Alliance, a coalition of groups working to reform and expand rent laws statewide.
“They don’t have any means of having their voices heard,” she said.
From the first Tuesday in January until June 15, advocates with the alliance plan to travel to Albany every Tuesday to lobby lawmakers to pass rent reforms.
“We’re knocking on doors of whoever will listen to us,” Pendergrass said. “We have people with real-life stories putting it on the table, showing what is happening.”
With the new Democratic majority in the State Senate, Pendergrass said she feels confident they will be in favor of the changes.
“We smashed the IDC, and we are holding these people accountable to stand up for us,” she said.
The housing alliance is still working with upstate lawmakers to get them on board. They recently met with Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter of Syracuse, and hope to get her support as well as others in the region.
“Because we are beating the drum, I think we have their attention,” Pendergrass said.