The following testimony was submitted by Dale Goodson, a rent stabilized tenant and neighborhood activist who has lived in his apartment for over 20 years:
My name is Dale Goodson and I have lived in my rent stabilized apartment at the corner of Avenue A and
12th streetin the since 1991. I am now 60 and moved to East Village New Yorkin the mid-80's from Seattleto pursue my career as a performance artist and free-lance writer. My work has always had a topical and socially conscious bent and consequently was not always the most commercially viable. I was drawn to New Yorkbecause of the vibrant mix of cultures, thriving artistic scene and an economically feasible housing environment. You didn't have to be rich to part of the fabric of the city.
In 2000 an opportunity came up to work as a homeless outreach worker at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and that work became the focus of my life. Again, not the most financially lucrative job, but tremendously satisfying in so many other ways. Unfortunately 2008 took it's toll and the program I was working for was cut. In addition, in 2005 our building was sold and the new owners began a policy of turning vacated apartments into market rate housing for NYU students. Admittedly they have not used untoward or harassing tactics against long term tenants, but the culture of the building began to change immediately. Virtually all of the culturally diverse and senior tenants have moved out. We've are slowly turning into a college dorm. To date about a third of the 40 apartments in our building have gone market rate. Most others are still rent stabilized.
I am now back to hunting up free-lance writing work and anything I else I can to stay afloat. The artistic scene and opportunities which once supported me have all but dried up. I have lived in NYC longer than any other place in my life. NYC is my home, but the relentless rent increases by the RGB are taking their toll. It never stops, even in the worst of economic times. I feel the vibrant cultural mix of
New Yorkis fast disappearing, giving way to a culture of the affluent. Given this trend I know of no neighborhood in the 5 boroughs I could afford to move to. Though my rent is low compared to market rate it is all that I can afford and each year becomes more and more precarious and unviable. My landlord on the other hand has an ever increasing number of market rate apartments to draw on for increased income as well as three street level businesses in the building and yet every year the RGB asks for more on his behalf. This is a destructive policy which not only brings hardship to those who can least afford it, but is fast turning New York City and the East Village in particular into a high income playground.