Mayor de Blasio, at Rare Public Forum, Presents Himself as a Protector of Tenants | NY Times

By C. J. HUGHES

De Blasio Town Hall - Washington Heights

Mayor Bill de Blasio, at a town-hall-style meeting on Wednesday, said, “The bottom line here is we are here to protect the people, to protect tenants, to protect people who just want to live in a neighborhood they love.” (Photo: John Taggart | NY Times)

As some rent-stabilized tenants enjoy the first month of a lease without a rent increase in decades, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who pushed for their rent freeze, took a bit of a victory lap on Wednesday night.

In a Washington Heights gym in front of a largely supportive crowd, the mayor reminded those present that one-year rent-stabilized leases renewed as of Oct. 1 should not be subject to any increases this year, even if landlords say otherwise.

Many in the audience of about 250 were invited through tenant advocacy groups, though some also came of their own accord.

The event, which lasted more than two hours and featured an energized mayor moving about a basketball court, seemed like a chance to bask in an accomplishment in his plan to create and preserve affordable housing.

“The bottom line here is we are here to protect the people, to protect tenants, to protect people who just want to live in a neighborhood they love,” Mr. de Blasio said, to a standing ovation from the crowd. “That’s our mission. That’s what we believe in.”

The event, held at Gregorio Luperón High School for Science and Mathematics, was structured in a town-hall format, revolving around questions from the audience, which sat in folding chairs around Mr. de Blasio. Though the mayor has tended to avoid that kind of format, he seemed to take to it with gusto on Wednesday, stretching the event well past its scheduled end time as he listened to complaints about overcrowded apartments, hostile landlords and insensitive city officials.

Read more: Mayor de Blasio, at Rare Public Forum, Presents Himself as a Protector of Tenants | NY Times

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