The forum was lead by Woodside on the Move, and featured a panel of elected officials to answer residents’ questions.
Citizens chanted “No more MCI’s” and shared their troubling experiences with the policy. Many residents told stories about landlords abusing their power and submitting MCI’s for projects that their buildings do not need, resulting in the increase of rents by hundreds of dollars.
Advocates said repairs that are needed to keep the building up to code are the landlord’s responsibility, but some landlords have been submitting them as MCIs to make a profit.
The rent increase is charged per room in each apartment unit. Ivan Contreras, the lead community organizer for Woodside on the Move, said the result is that many residents can no longer afford to live in their homes.
“Everybody you saw here is suffering from MCIs, which is nothing more than a loophole in the law that is eliminating affordable housing and causing our community to be displaced,” Contreras said. “It’s really important that the elected officials really get committed and eliminate the MCI because there is no other solution.”
Tenant advocate Biancca MacPherson agreed with this sentiment due to her volunteer experience and her firsthand accounts of the negative impacts of MCIs.
“MCI is basically an eviction notice at this point,” she said. “When a tenant can’t pay anymore, they move out and then the landlord gets a 20 percent increase for the vacancy bonus. It’s just not right.”
At the end of the forum, elected officials including state senators Michael Gianaris and Tony Avella, signed a pledge that was unveiled to the community stating that they will make the elimination of MCIs a priority. The pledge also said the officials will continue to be in communication with the community to prevent any further displacement.
“We are here because we really support you and represent you and we want to do the best we can for you,” Gianaris said. “Hopefully, we can get it done in January when we go up to Albany and have a chance to pass some laws.”
When further pressed by the audience what would happen if the governor doesn’t comply with the elimination of MCIs, Avella assured the crowd.
“He will agree,” he said. “He would be too embarrassed not to approve this.”