Affordable Housing

Why one upstate city is saying yes to rent stabilization

  • Newburgh’s city council voted to freeze rents in 68 buildings across the city
  • The Orange County city has 30 days to form a Rent Guidelines Board
Celia Young Headshot
By Celia Young  |
December 21, 2023 - 9:30AM
Aerial shot of Newburgh, a small city in the Hudson River Valley in Orange County, New York on a cloudy autumn afternoon.

Newburgh, a small city in the Hudson River Valley, is seen on a cloudy  afternoon.


Newburgh became the latest city in New York state to adopt rent stabilization in a unanimous city council vote on Monday.

The decision freezes rents at their current levels in 68 buildings in the Orange County City, which sits along the Hudson River south of Poughkeepsie. Housing Justice for All—a tenant advocacy group—expects it to impact 738 households across Newburgh. 

Following the vote, the city has 30 days to form a nine-person Rent Guidelines Board made up of Newburgh residents, similar to New York City’s. The board will hold two landlord and tenant representatives respectively and five other members of the public, the publication City and State reported.

A growing movement

Newburgh follows the town of Kingston and the village of Nyack in adopting rent stabilization. Other New York communities, such as Poughkeepsie, are seeing their own pushes to opt into rent stabilization through the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) as well, says Daniel Atonna, political coordinator at the Hudson Valley-based advocacy organization For the Many.

Atonna says For the Many, alongside the Mid-Hudson Valley chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, spent a year attending city council meetings and convincing residents and council members to support the ETPA.

“There’s a real mandate for rent stabilization out in Newburgh,” Atonna says. “This was tenants and homeowners saying, ‘we want rent stabilization because we want a stable community here in Newburgh and we don’t want our neighbors thrown out on the streets.’”

Low vacancy

All New York state cities can adopt rent stabilization through the ETPA thanks to changes to the rent laws in 2019 that expanded its reach beyond just Westchester, Rockland, and Nassau counties. But to do so, Newburgh had to conduct a vacancy study to determine whether the city’s available housing stock was low enough to declare an emergency, under the ETPA. 

The study found that the city’s vacancy rate sat at 3.93 percent, and anything below 5 percent constitutes an emergency under the ETPA. Tenants, however, had been feeling the burn of higher rents far before the study, Atonna says.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Newburgh has increased from $1,915 in December last year to $2,097, or roughly 10 percent, according to apartment listing website

“It didn't take the vacancy study to tell us that we were in a housing crisis,” Atonna says.

Potential challenges

Rent stabilization won’t apply to every building in Newburgh. The ETPA only covers residential buildings with six or more units that were constructed before 1974, but Atonna says advocates are hoping to expand rent stabilization to newer, smaller buildings in the city.

In the meantime, the decision is likely to be challenged in the court system by the Hudson Valley Property Owners Association, City and State reported. (A rent stabilization program in Kingston is currently facing a similar challenge). 

The association’s executive director, Rich Lanzarone, says the vacancy study incorrectly found a vacancy level below 5 percent threshold. He also raised concerns that the decision could discourage owners from repairing buildings.

Celia Young Headshot

Celia Young

Senior Writer

Celia Young is a senior writer at Brick Underground where she covers New York City residential real estate. She graduated from Brandeis University and previously covered local business at the Milwaukee Business Journal, entertainment at Madison Magazine, and commercial real estate at Commercial Observer. She currently resides in Brooklyn.

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