EDITORIAL: Rangel’s Very Good Deal

July 12, 2008

Rent-stabilized apartments in New York City are supposed to be a way for the city to retain residents with moderate incomes — teachers and police officers, for example. These apartments are very hard to get and even harder to keep. And in recent years, too many senior citizens or struggling families have been evicted from their apartments — and the city itself — as landlords upgrade buildings and raise prices.

Now comes one of the nation’s most powerful politicians — Representative Charles Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem — who has managed to get four of these rent-stabilized apartments. A big proponent of low-income housing, his own rents in Harlem are about half the market value. On the most basic level, that means three or even four renters missed out in favor of a congressman who has a net worth of $566,000 to $1.2 million.

The stark unfairness here should be obvious. Yet, Mr. Rangel, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, argues that at least three of his apartments are legal under his reading of the rent-stabilization laws. He will “look into” the use of one apartment as an office, a violation of housing rules that would get most tenants thrown out almost immediately.

Read more: (Editorial, “Mr. Rangel’s Very Good Deal,” The New York Times, 7/12/08)