The increase was introduced by Krauss Management and audited by the Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). According to Krauss, the increase is necessary to keep Bedford Gardens in a livable condition while funding maintenance.
The rally was held last Wednesday afternoon, before a hearing on the proposed increase.
Bedford Gardens is a 634-unit housing complex that provides housing for people under the Section 8 housing program. According to tenants, with a 19 percent rent increase the complex will simply become unaffordable.
“I grew up in this neighborhood, and rent has become exorbitantly high over the years,” said State Committeeman Lincoln Restler. “Bedford Gardens was made specifically for people who couldn't afford high rent.”
In 2009, Krauss Management passed a 23 percent rent increase, and along with the proposed 19 percent rent increase that would amount to a 42 percent rent increase in a time span of four years.
Elected officials and tenants are calling for a private audit to make sure that rent money is being spent on legitimate necessities, rather than being pocketed by management.
“All these management fees and no one knows where the fees are going,” said community organizer Isaac Abraham, who has lived in Bedford Gardens for 36 years. “An independent auditor is necessary to see how the tax money is being spent.”
Chava Laufer a tenant at Bedford Gardens believes there are other ways to raise money instead of another rent increase.
“Bedford Gardens is not being managed right,” said Laufer. “They pocket the money and have waiting lists for apartments when there are a lot of apartments that are vacant. Fill the vacant apartments with new tenants and that will add some revenue.”
A spokesperson for HPD said that the department has not made a decision on approving the proposed increase yet, and that the public hearing was just the first step in the review process.