Judith Goldiner Speaks Out for Low-Income Tenants

Judith Goldner, Supervising Attorney in the Civil Practice'es Law Reform Unit, spoke out for the rights of low-income tenants in response to the major "Green Building" legislation announced by the Mayor and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn that would force landlords to install energy-efficient light bulbs, low-flow faucets and other energy-saving devises to reduce the City's carbon emissions.

Appearing on WABC and quoted in the Gotham Gazette and Metro, Judith Goldiner said that we believe in green, we think it’s good to have energy efficience, but we just think the people who are least able to afford it shouldn’t be the ones paying for it." Judith and other advocates said they feared that the cost of the improvements could be passed on to tenants who cannot afford the increases.

“The whole premise of the green building's legislation is that efficient improvements will only be mandated if they will be paid back to the owner through energy savings, rent increases based on these steps should be prohibited. How can you have a landlord benefit twice – once through savings on their energy bills and again through higher rents from tenant."


Eyewitness News at 6
WABC (ABC) New York
April 22, 2009 6:00-6:30 PM

Liz Cho, Anchor: Well tonight, Mayor Bloomberg celebrating this 39th Annual Earth Day with some dramatic environmental proposals. Turns out the buildings count for eighty percent of New York’s carbon emissions, and making them green is now the Mayor’s top priority. But is that possible in a recession? Political reporter Dave Evans is here now with much more. Dave?

Dave Evans, Political Reporter: Well Con Edison probably doesn’t want to hear it, but one environmentalist we talked with today called utility bills a nineteenth century idea. He envisions buildings that someday will make all of their own energy. That may be a long day off, but Mayor Bloomberg this morning took a big step toward that vision, and he claims the idea will pay for itself. On this Earth Day, in a garden atop a Midtown high-rise, the Mayor unveiled an ambitious plan, forcing thousands and thousands of old buildings to green up, to get newer efficient boilers, to better insulate pipes, weatherize windows, and replace old, wasteful lights.

Mayor Bloomberg: Look, either we want to have less dependence on foreign energy and we want to have cleaner air, or we don’t.

Dave Evans: The plan is not voluntary. Every building in the city over 50,000 square feet will eventually face an audit. If it’s proven those old lights or better windows could be paid for with lower energy bills over a five year period, then changes must be made. A lot of building owners are worried, and so are rent regulated apartment dwellers. When improvements are made, landlords can hike the rent by about three hundred dollars a year.

Judith Goldiner, Legal Aid Society: And we believe in green, we think it’s good to have energy efficience, but we just think the people who are least able to afford it shouldn’t be the ones paying for it.

Dave Evans: The Mayor’s hoping his plan will make New York the world headquarters for how to make old cities green. Texas and Iowa have wind and all those turbines. California and Arizona have capitalized on solar. We have buildings, lots of them, and today’s new requirements could lead to thousands of new jobs.

Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director: People who are in California, they’re not in New York right now, they’re going to hear about this announcement and they’re going to start looking for space to open facilities in New York tomorrow.

Dave Evans: Well today’s new requirements won’t begin for another four years. About two thousand buildings will be audited that first year in 2013 for energy efficiency. The Mayor today said we often forget how influential New York City can be. He pointed to the smoking ban and said now all of Western Europe is smoke-free. He is hoping today’s announcement will lead to the same kind of sweeping change across the globe.

Bill Ritter, Anchor: I agree.

Liz Cho: Sorry, I need to cough there. Yeah.

Bill Ritter: Oh, no comment on Dave’s story, of course. Solar on top of every building in New York City. What’s wrong with that? Nothing is wrong with that.

Dave Evans: Well, at the very least, the tops of the buildings could be white instead of black, and they wouldn’t absorb all of the heat. That’s one idea.

Bill Ritter: There we go.

Dave Evans: Many ideas.

Bill Ritter: We’ll have more on our radio show coming up. Oh, we don’t have a radio show.

Liz Cho: Thank you.