Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Assembly Introduces Omnibus Rent Bill - Good but needs more

The State Assembly's plan is to pass this bill on May 19, 2015. 

The Assembly Democrats introduced an omnibus bill renewing the state rent and coop laws and making numerous changes to both the state and NYC rent laws. The changes are pro-tenant, although some of the changes are not adequate.

A7526 is sponsored by Assembly Housing Committee chairman Keith Wright (D-Manhattan) and co-sponsored by numerous other Democratic Assembly Members. (See list at end of this memo.)

A7526 extends state rent control and the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 for four years, to June 15, 2019. It also extends the NYC and three-county coop conversion laws to the same sunset.

2019 is the worst possible sunset year in terms of leverage. 2019 is after the next two legislative elections, and after the next gubernatorial election. Our friends in the Assembly are for some reason choosing to put tenants at a political disadvantage. This is unacceptable. Tenants should insist on a two-year extender, to 2017.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Activate blog: Thousands of Tenants Rally

Check out the Activate blog run by Met Council on Housing.  It's got great photos of the May 14, 2015 rally! An excerpt is below.  (See also the Gothamist's article on the rally.)

By Mia McDonald | May 15, 2015

Yesterday, thousands of tenants, advocates, and elected officials gathered at Foley Square to demand stronger rent laws this June. Speakers included City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Tish James, City Council Member Jumaane Williams, Senator Adriano Espaillat, and Assembly Member Keith Wright, Dell Smitherman of 1199SEIU, and Delsenia Glover of Tenants & Neighbors, as well as representatives from CASA and Los Sures. Other elected officials in attendance were Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh, Dick Gottfried, Linda Rosenthal, and Mike Blake, Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, and City Council Members Corey Johnson, Carlos Menchaca, Helen Rosenthal, Antonio Reynoso, Dan Garodnick, and Mathieu Eugene. 

Results of May 14 Rally

Throngs of tenants rallied in Foley Square, marched over the Brooklyn Bridge (several hundred still coming at 7 PM), and into Cadman Plaza - where they were met by great music.   Tenant-supporting electeds were there. The question is whether Governor Cuomo was listening.  










Thursday, May 14, 2015

Glenwood uses stealth & cash to buy results in Albany - Albany Times Union


Real estate giant uses loopholes in the law to keep its political donations anonymous
By Chris Bragg
Published 8:17 pm, Saturday, May 9, 2015
 Albany
On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, luxury apartment buildings owned by the development firm Glenwood Management look over the East River, where a controversial marine waste transfer station is in the final stages of construction.

A tide of anonymous money has flowed into a campaign to stop the project, which Glenwood opposes. Yet its donors have remained secret thanks to a loophole in state ethics law.
Proponents of the transfer station see the fingerprints of the real estate giant. "It's been like running into a buzz saw," said Eddie Bautista, executive director of NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. "They hired three sectors of professional hit men – the lawyers, the lobbying firms, the PR firms."



Tenant/Inquilino: Cuomo sides with landlords; Heastie stance unclear

Cuomo Openly Sides With Landlords;
Wants No Changes to Rent Laws, 421-a
By: 
Michael McKee
Published: May 2015

Andrew Cuomo finally said something about the expiring rent laws. On April 21, the governor told reporters that both the 421-a tax break for developers and the rent laws covering New York City and Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland counties should be renewed. Both laws expire June 15. 

Then in an April 24 speech to the Association for a Better New York, chaired by real estate developer Bill Rudin, Cuomo told the assembled business elite that the turmoil resulting from federal probes into legislative corruption might make it hard to accomplish more than renewing 421-a and the rent laws without any changes. “We can’t live without 421-a,” Cuomo told the ABNY members. “Many people want changes to 421-a, and in truth there’s a good case to be made that 421-a does need changes.” He said he would be better able to negotiate if Albany was in “a little bit more of a stable situation.”


Get in touch with your legislators, even if they support tenants and even if you have done so already. Write a letter to Governor Cuomo. Recruit your neighbors. Get on a bus to Albany on Tuesday, May 27 and/or Tuesday, June 9. And show up at your Rent Guidelines Board meetings. 

For more information, get in touch with Ilana Maier at (212)979-6238 or ilana@metcouncilonhousing.org 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Michael McKee's articles of interest 5/9/2015

The Times (and NY Times) they are a changin' - and support REAL RENT REFORM NOW

NY Times

What a rare opportunity New York has been given, now that the federal prosecutor Preet Bharara has delivered two ferocious kicks to the anthill of Albany, leaving politicians and deal makers dazed and blinking in the light.

The arrests of two of the three most powerful men in state government on corruption charges, former Speaker Sheldon Silver of the Assembly and Dean Skelos, the State Senate leader, creates an opening for the third, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to be a hero. He can push through reforms of state laws to give the poor and those of modest means — perennial losers in a game rigged for and by real-estate developers, landlords and self-dealing politicians — a better shot at being able to afford to live in New York City.

The reforms involve the state’s rent-stabilization law and an obsolete tax break for developers. Both expire on June 15, and reforming them is an important goal of tenants’ advocates and of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has made it his mission to preserve and expand the city’s endangered supply of affordable housing.
 
Protesters outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Manhattan offices on Wednesday. Credit Seth Wenig/Associated Press
The advocates and the mayor want the Legislature to make big changes. These include eliminating a provision in the housing laws that removes vacated apartments from regulation once the rents hit a threshold of $2,500 a month, allowing them to float as high as the gentrification tides will take them. Advocates say this provision has led to the loss of more than 300,000 affordable apartments in the city. Other changes would eliminate landlords’ ability to automatically jack up rents 20 percent when apartments are vacated, and allow landlords to impose only temporary, not permanent, surcharges to pay for major apartment improvements.

Click on the link for the full editorial.