The rally at noon had terrific music and chants, and good speakers, including Congressman Charles Rangel who compared 80% market rate-20% affordable apartment buildings to hospitals in which only 20% of the room were for sick people. Several speakers called for the repeal of vacancy decontrol - since allowing landlords to de-regulate vacant apartments depletes New York City's stock of affordable housing and motivates the harassment so many tenants suffer. Additional speakers (in alphabetical order): Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Adriano Espaillat (a major organizer of the event), Assembly Member Herman "Denny" Farrell, Public Advocate Tish James, Council Member Mark Levine, Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Attorney John Gorman, and several tenants - all moderated by Tenants & Neighbors' Delsenia Glover. Apologies to anyone missed here. (With the music and crowd's enthusiasm, it was hard to see and hear all the speakers.) The Renters March was co-sponsored by The Black Institute, the Goddard-Riverside Community Center, the, Northern Manhattan Improvement Coalition, P.A.'L.A.N.T.E., the Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association, Tenants & Neighbors, and We Act, among others.
to the amount each uses, based on a remotely-read meter in each apartment. In buildings that are heated by electricity, the electric bills can be enormous - particularly where the tenants cannot control how much heat they are getting and the buildings are not energy efficient.
Where tenants can't pay their electric bills, should they face a cut-off of electricity (as would happen if they had a direct contract with Con Ed), or will they be evicted? The state's housing agency has a standard lease that lets landlords evict tenants. That should be changed.
Read excerpts from a FEDERAL (as opposed to STATE) court that just dismissed a case on technical grounds that Yonkers Riverview tenants brought against the federal government's HUD and the NYS Homes & Community Renewal (formerly DHCR) about submetering evictions.
Mayor Bill de Blasio sought on Tuesday to connect his progressive values to the needs of industry, telling thousands of executives at a global real estate conference that New York’s business growth demands solutions to ensure everyone can find a place to call home.
For this coming legislative session, my
neighbors and I urge you to compel Democratic Party unity. We have seen the “Independent Democratic
Conference” undermine passage of pro-tenant laws. We
need you to support
Repeal of vacancy decontrol so our grown children
can have affordable homes.
Repeal of the Urstadt Law so the politicians
who vote on our rent laws are accountable to us.
On Tuesday, Nov. 4th, there will be a statewide election for governor, lieutenant governor, state comptroller, attorney general, and all 213 seats in the state legislature.
Help the Democrats take control of the New York State Senate to reverse the phaseout of our rent protection laws, and win pro-tenant reforms. If the Republicans are in control again, we are in serious trouble when the rent laws come up for renewal next June. You can phonebank (see below), contribute money, and knock on doors.
Home-Rule Demand Grows (See Met Council on Housing's Tenant/Inquilino)
“Want to clean up Albany? Get the landlords out!”
by Kenny Schaeffer 10/8/14
When Bill deBlasio accepted the endorsement of the Tenants Political Action Committee in front of StuyvesantTown during last year’s mayoral campaign, he pledged he would fight to regain New York City control over our rent and eviction laws in the same way outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg had fought for mayoral control over schools.
There are nearly 1 million rent regulated apartments in New York City, which offer important affordability protections for tenants. The current law governing rent regulation will expire in June 2015 and will be up for renewal by the New York State legislature in its new session, beginning this January. The question before legislators will be whether to strengthen the existing law by preserving existing units and protecting affordability; or whether to allow the ongoing process of vacancy deregulation by which previously regulated apartments become subject to market rates.
We argue that the changing geography of rent regulation in New York City should inform this debate. As such, we have estimated the numbers of rent-regulated apartments (including both rent control and rent stabilization) for each legislative district in New York City. These estimates were made by allocating apartments from the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey’s sub-borough areas into legislative districts in proportion with local population as measured at the level of Census tract in the 2010 Census.
"80-20" buildings are those whose owners got tax breaks or special financing on condition that at least 20% of their rental apartments start out affordable. Unfortunately, when the tax breaks expire, so does the affordability. That may change for some of those buildings. Policy Change Could Benefit New York’s Landlords and Tenants, NY Times, by Mireya Navarro, Oct. 9, 2014 Excerpt: In a policy shift that could help New York City retain its existing supply of affordable housing, the state will allow owners of hundreds of mixed-income rental buildings to sell most of their apartments as long as they permanently preserve their low-income rentals or increase their number.
Excerpts: One of the biggest tests in this arena is dealing with the giant 11,200-unit Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village complex on Manhattan’s East Side, and the 3,962-unit Upper Manhattan and Roosevelt Island package known as the Putnam portfolio. . . . . [Stuyvesant Town / Peter Cooper Village's] tenants are working with Brookfield Property Partners on a tenant-led purchase bid that would include a condominium conversion and affordable housing preservation.
Meanwhile, Brookfield is at the center of another large affordable housing preservation tussle.
The Toronto-based property giant signed a contract during the summer to purchase the nearly 4,000 units in the Putnam portfolio from a group led by the New Jersey-based Urban American Management.
Almost half of those units are occupied by tenants holding a less common version of the federal Section 8 housing voucher, which in this instance remains with the tenants. That means if the tenants move, their former apartment becomes market rate.
Housing advocates want the city to preserve these units as permanently affordable.
“We would like to see some kind of preservation plan for the buildings,” said Katie Goldstein, executive director of the housing advocacy group Tenants & Neighbors.
Excerpt: Mejia told TheWest Side Spiritthat this summer, the landlord refused to renew her lease, and sent her a 30-day vacate notice in July. When she didn’t budge, the landlord used images from the hidden camera as the basis of an eviction suit that was launched against her in housing court. She often leaves the apartment to visit her elderly mother, who lives next door, and if the landlord could convince the court she wasn’t using her rent-stabilized apartment as a primary residence, Mejia could be evicted.
She hired a lawyer for about $1,500 and the case was dropped, she said. A few weeks later a new lease arrived in the mail. Then in September a man dropped by the apartment and offered to pay her $75,000 to move out. She didn’t bite. ____________________________ End vacancy decontrol, end harassment.
TENANT ALERT from Tenants Political Action Committee
October 4, 2014: The election for governor, lieutenant governor, state comptroller, attorney general, and all 213 seats in the state legislature is one month from today: Tuesday, November 4.
Tenants need to focus on the fight for control of the New York State Senate, because the fate of tenant legislation inevitably depends on the outcome. If the Democrats win a majority, we will have a chance to reverse the phaseout of our rent protection laws, and win pro-tenant reforms. If the Republicans are in control again, we are in serious trouble when the rent laws come up for renewal next June.
The accusations against the landlord, Yeshaya Wasserman, involved alleged practices in eight rent-regulated properties with 181 apartments in Flatbush and Crown Heights. The state investigation targeted practices that tenant advocates say have become more commonplace in fast-changing neighborhoods where the market now can demand rents many times higher than those paid by long-term residents.
Some of Mr. Wasserman’s tenants have lived in their apartments for more than 20 years and pay less than $1,000 for three-bedroom units, said representatives of the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, which aided the state investigation. Some tenants complained that the landlord did not cash their rent checks, a tactic that officials said relies on the expectation that tenants will not have the money to pay the back rent when it is finally demanded of them. Other tenants said the landlord cut off heat and hot water or took them to housing court on frivolous charges.
EXCERPT: Our satanically complex housing law affords you many rights and protections. I emailed my dad, well-known tenants-rights lawyer Steve Dobkin, for more. He replied:
"Regardless of whether your apartment is rent controlled (highly unlikely)-rent stabilized-or rent subsidized, or none of the above, as a tenant in New York you have a right to a habitable apartment, and the landlord is responsible for providing basic services and necessary repairs. Don't worry about looking a gift horse in the mouth or pissing the landlord off.
Debating Privatization: Southbridge Tower Votes by Charles Chawalko , September 17th, 2014 Excerpt But public discussion of the plan thus far has almost exclusively focused on the creation of new housing rather than the preservation of existing units. In a city where land for new construction is at a premium, maintaining assets already in place is crucial. According to a Community Service Society report released in January, the city lost 385,000 units of affordable housing between 2002 and 2011, far outpacing the 165,000 units that the Bloomberg administration aimed to create and preserve. If the loss of affordable homes continues at this rate, plans for new construction will fail to replace diminishing supply, let alone meet our growing city’s demand for more affordable housing. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL BLOG PIECE.
Lawmakers hope increased penalties for tenant harassment will deter unscrupulous landlords
by Daniel Fitzsimmons
September 30, 2014
A recently passed measure in the city council that toughens penalties for landlords found guilty of tenant harassment is receiving mixed reviews from affordable housing advocates, who say increasing penalties against unscrupulous landlords is a worthy cause, but more must be done.
The legislation, sponsored by council members Margaret Chin and Jumaane Williams, actually amends a pre-existing bill that levied a $5,000 fine to landlords found guilty of harassment. The amendment doubles that fine to $10,000 and will also result in the guilty landlord’s name being posted to a public list on the city’s Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development’s website.
Sue Susman, president of the Central Park Gardens Tenants’ Association, who also runs a popular mailing list on affordable housing issues and is considered a communication hub in the affordable housing community, said the amendment is an important step in the right direction but that the definition of what constitutes harassment must be broadened.
Jobs for New York Inc., an outside spending group that poured $8 million into New York City’s 2013 elections, is now poised to help Republicans in the high-stakes battle for the state Senate, records show.
. . . .
The treasurer of the new state-level group is William Auerbach, the chief financial officer for the Real Estate Board of New York, which ran the 2013 city-election effort for the real estate industry. On Wednesday, records show, Jobs for New York's city-level committee transferred nearly $9,000 in leftover funds into its new state-level unit.