Major changes to New York’s housing laws could offer additional protections to renters here in the Hudson Valley. The revamped version of 1974’s Emergency Tenant Protection Act will also open the door, for the first time, to rent stabilization laws in upstate communities. The package of bills emerged from a deal between the state Assembly and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend.

The passage of the law follows a two-year campaign by housing activists in New York City and Upstate who formed a coalition to lobby for reform both in Albany and in communities statewide. That coalition was instrumental in flipping several Senate seats — including some in the Hudson Valley — thus breaking Republicans’ decades-long hold on the chamber and clearing the way for a flood of progressive legislation. The renters’ rights bills faced fierce opposition from commercial real estate interests, traditionally one of New York’s most powerful lobbies.

“It really was a matter of unifying communities around the idea that tenants in every zip code deserve protection,” said Rebecca Garrard, chief housing organizer for the progressive group Citizen Action of New York and the Upstate coordinator of the Housing Justice Campaign. “This is a case where people power won out over lobbying dollars.”

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