In the spring of 1971, New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller introduced and pushed for a package of bills in the New York State Legislature. Referred to then (as it is now), as “Vacancy Decontrol,” the legislation essentially deregulated all the rent-controlled and rent-stabilized housing in the state. The package of bills passed the legislature and was effective as of June 30, 1971. It was, at the time, the largest blow to affordable housing in the history of New York.
As tenants of one of the largest concentrations of rent-regulated apartments in New York, we at Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village were prompted into action; tenants hit the streets and went to Albany to overturn these terrible acts. And the Tenants Association was born. We formalized in the fall of 1971. Our first goal: repeal the legislation.
Working with others in the city and around the state, we showed just how important rent laws are to the social fabric, vitality, and dynamism of New York City. We were successful, and vacancy decontrol was repealed in 1974 through the Emergency Tenants Protection Act.
We have been hard at work ever since. Today, we are the largest tenants association in the world. We are a 100% volunteer-run organization, with a dedicated Board of Directors, a statewide footprint, and recognition for being, as written by the New York Times, "well organized and politically powerful."