They chanted "freeze the rent." But the cold reality is, it's going up.
New York City's Rent Guidelines Board did what it often does: it tuned out the sometimes deafening shouts of protesters Tuesday night and recommended a percentage by which landlords can raise your rent.
One-year leases would rise somewhere between 3 percent and 5.75 percent under the board's proposal. Two-year leases would jump between 6 percent and 9 percent.
The broad range has been the board's preferred technique in recent years; the final figure, up for a vote in June, usually lands in the middle.
"It just makes everything tighter," said Natasha Missick, an actress and writer who pays about $1,000 per month for a narrow railroad apartment in Harlem. She is examining her budget to figure out where she will find the extra $45 to $75 a month.
Many landlords acknowledge New Yorkers face a tight squeeze, but they point to the tens of thousands of tenants who pay dirt-cheap rents -- as low as $300 a month.
Joe Strasburg, a building owner and spokesman for other landlords, said it's no different than a small business facing very real cost-of-living hikes.
"The cost to owners this year is above 6 percent. So, all we're asking is to catch up and be even in terms of the last year's increases," said Strasburg.
That argument doesn't convince skeptical tenants like Missick.
"It's just pure profit," she said. "When fuel costs go down, we don't get a break. It never gets rolled back."