According to a housing needs study by economic justice group the Leviticus Fund, nearly one third of Newburgh’s population lives below the federal poverty level. A major victory in the effort to ensure that the city, in the face of a nationwide housing shortage, remains a place for all economic echelons of citizens came with its passing of Good Cause Eviction legislation last fall. The laws are designed to prevent “exorbitant and predatory” rent increases and lay out specific causes that landlords must prove when seeking to evict tenants (similar legislation has been passed in Albany, Beacon, Kingston, and other cities).
“No one in America should be evicted without good cause,” Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey, an accomplished actor, poet, and motivational speaker outside of his governmental duties, told the Middletown Times Herald-Record in March. “Decent housing is a human right, not a privilege.”
That month, despite considerable public support for the new laws, a small group of landlords—most of them linked to the same Manhattan address—filed a lawsuit against the city over the legislation, decrying it as local government overreach that goes against their constitutional rights as business owners. Many supporters of Good Cause legislation, such as area grassroots social justice group For the Many (formerly Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson), are optimistic about the city’s upholding of its decision but are nonetheless pushing for state-wide adoption of the laws, which are already in place at the state level in New Jersey, California, and Oregon.