Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Screening of Documentary Footage to Preserve Affordable Housing

Our first screening of a documentary about organizing to preserve affordable housing on the Upper West Side and in other communities - including clips from Crown Heights, RAFA march in Harlem in August, RGB hearings & vote and Great Neck, Long Island:

What:      Mitchell-Lama Film Project, A Work In Progress
Where:     Goddard Riverside Community Center
                 647 Columbus Avenue at West 91st St
When:      Wednesday, November 19th at 7:30pm

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tenants in Bankruptcy shielded from losing rent stabilized home

New York State's highest court has ruled that a tenant in bankruptcy need not sell her rent stabilized lease back to her landlord to raise money for the tenant's creditors.  
The NY Times has covered this:  Rent-Stabilized Leases Shielded in Bankruptcy.
Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam wrote the Nov. 20, 2014 decision that the tenant could not be forced to give up her home and sell her rent stabilized lease to the landlord.   Relying on a state law that exempts "public assistance benefits" from being seized by the bankruptcy trustee,  Judge Abdus-Salaam said that rent stabilizes leases are such a benefit.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Talking about affordable housing - on MNN TV

NYC Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, attorney Sue Susman, 
Tenant activist Khadijah Canns discuss the future of rent regulation.

Repeal vacancy deregulation (also known as vacancy decontrol) and 
re-regulate apartments deregulated under vacancy deregulation if rents 
are below a goodly amount.

Close the loopholes that make affordable apartments unaffordable 
(Major Capital Improvements, Individual Apartment Improvements, 
preferential rents, illegal fees, and more).

Keep illegal hotels - including AirBnB - from depleting our stock of 
affordable housing..

Friday, November 14, 2014

Southbridge Towers in the news

Divided by a Windfall: Southbridge (former Mitchell-Lama) residents are the topic of a NY Times article
Privatizing assumes financial risk, particularly for the type of tenant the program was designed to serve — someone who can barely afford the current costs. No longer eligible for tax abatements, Southbridge would have to pay at least $8.1 million a year in real estate taxes, significantly more than the $1.64 million it now pays.  The development could also be on the hook for a $27.77 million transfer tax if the New York State Court of Appeals rules in favor of the city in an ongoing case involving a former Mitchell-Lama
development in Coney Island that privatized in 2007.

Tenant Legislative Goals

All the major tenant groups are working together for these goals:
  • Repeal vacancy deregulation (also known as vacancy decontrol) and re-regulate
    apartments deregulated under vacancy deregulation if rents are below a goodly amount. 
  • Close the loopholes that make affordable apartments unaffordable (Major Capital Improvements, Individual Apartment Improvements, preferential rents, illegal fees, and more).
  • Keep illegal hotels - including AirBnB - from depleting our stock of affordable housing.

Come to the Rally to Strengthen the Rent Laws 
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at 10 AM (get there early)
at City Hall.  Click here for a flyer in Word - so you can add your group's name.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Astoria Cove: Mayor gets better deal

Mayor de Blasio and the City Council's Land Use Committee have won a better deal (see NY Times article) for
Astoria Cove in Queens:  

  • 27% of the apartments (instead of 20%) will be affordable.
  • Most of the affordable apartments will rent to people making no more than 80% of the area median income* with some as low as $800/month
  • A ferry dock will be built since the project is a mile from the nearest subway
  • Union members will build, maintain and service the project. 
*  Area Median Income (AMI) The area median income for New York City in 2013 was $63,000 for a family of four.   But in the Astoria Cove area, the median income is $56,000.  (To get the median, line up all the incomes, highest to lowest.  The one that is halfway down is the median.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nov. 18, 2014 Rally to Strengthen NYS's Rent Laws




Monday, November 10, 2014

Rent Laws Expire in June - so Tenants Need . . .

Check out the legislative platform of several groups for this coming January-June 2015
Albany term.  In June the rent laws expire and must be renewed.  Will they be weakened or strengthened?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tenants PAC says Vote NO on Proposal 1

The Nov. 4th ballot contains three proposals for approval or rejection by the voters of New York State. Please note that the three proposals are on the back of the paper ballot, so you need to turn it over to vote on them.  The following is a description of the proposals, with a recommendation from Tenants PAC on how to vote on Proposal 1.

Proposal Number 1, an Amendment: Revising
New York State's Redistricting Procedure
The proposed amendment to sections 4 and 5 and addition of new section 5-b to Article 3 of the State Constitution revises the redistricting procedure for state legislative and congressional districts. The proposed amendment establishes a redistricting commission every 10 years beginning in 2020, with two members appointed by each of the four legislative leaders and two members selected by the eight legislative appointees; prohibits legislators and other elected officials from serving as commissioners; establishes principles to be used in creating districts; requires the commission to hold public hearings on proposed redistricting plans; subjects the commission's redistricting plan to legislative enactment; provides that the legislature may only amend the redistricting plan according to the established principles if the commission's plan is rejected twice by the legislature; provides for expedited court review of a challenged redistricting plan; and provides for funding and bipartisan staff to work for the commission. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Tenants PAC urges you to vote NO
. While this constitutional amendment put forward by Governor Cuomo and the legislative leaders in Albany sounds good on the surface, it contains loopholes that would allow the legislature to do what it does now: draw super-partisan district lines to protect incumbents and to protect the majority parties from having to face competitive elections. A state supreme court justice forced the NYS Board of Elections to delete the word “independent” in the above language describing the proposal, ruling that the proposal could not be called independent from the state legislature when the legislative leaders appoint the members of the commission, and because the commission must submit its proposed lines to the state legislature for approval. This is a cynical power-grab in the name of reform, and is opposed by editorial boards all over the state as well as by numerous civic groups including Common Cause New York, NYPIRG and EffectiveNY. No fake reform – vote NO.

Loopholes let big developers give Cuomo biggest donations

Crains New York: Cuomo's biggest donor is also the oldest.

In the run-up to Tuesday's balloting, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's re-election campaign collected $45 million, almost double what it raised four years earlier. But one key factor in that success, and the source of the largest slug of cash, stayed constant: the legendary—now 100-year-old—real estate magnate Leonard Litwin.
Limited-liability companies connected to Mr. Litwin's real estate business, Glenwood Management, gave Mr. Cuomo's campaign $1 million in this election cycle—three times the size of the second-ranked donor's contribution, according to data compiled by the New York Public Interest Research Group. In addition, Mr. Litwin gave, in total, almost $500,000 to the state Democratic Party and to Kathy Hochul's campaign for lieutenant governor.

Astora Cove, Prop 1, Post-Hurricane Sandy

Help Tenants PAC elect pro-tenant candidates

 Dear Friend,

The election is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 4.

Tenants PAC strongly urges a vote to re-elect Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and a vote to re-elect State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, both of whom are great supporters of tenants and tenants’ rights. Tenants PAC has made no endorsement for governor.

Tenants PAC also urges a NO vote on Proposal One, a constitutional amendment put forward by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders that claims to create a non-partisan system for redrawing legislative district lines beginning in 2022. In fact this is a fake reform proposal that would actually enshrine in the state constitution the ability of the legislative leaders to draw hyper gerrymandered lines in order to protect their majorities and protect incumbent legislators. The foxes that run the hen house called Planet Albany will do whatever they can to persuade voters that this is a good plan, but it is fatally flawed. Vote NO. (The proposals are on the back of the ballot.) No fake reform!

It is not too late to make a contribution to Tenants PAC to help elect our six priority candidates for New York State Senate. Just this week we have made an additional $3,300 in donations to two of them, and we want to do more by the weekend. The hope for a Democratic majority in the State Senate rests on the outcome of these six races, all of which are competitive and could go either way. All six of our candidates are solidly pro-tenant. The NYC real estate industry is pouring money into five of these races to help the Republican candidates.

We thank those of you who helped us meet our latest $1,000 match; the response was swift and much appreciated. We urge everyone to dig deep into your pocketbook and give again, or give for the first time if you have not yet done so. The stakes are enormously high.

You can send a check payable to Tenants PAC to:
Tenants PAC, 277 Broadway, Suite 608, New York NY 10007.

Or you can make a secure on-line donation at

Contributions to Tenants PAC are not deductible from federal income tax.

One week to go.

In solidarity,

Michael McKee
Tenants Political Action Committee

Volunteer to help Pro-Tenant Candidates

Here are some important volunteer opportunities:

10:00 am to 9:00 pm each day – 3 hour shifts, or all day
Get Out The Vote activities for Senate candidate Justin Wagner
Meet at 1 Croton Point Avenue, Croton-on-Hudson, Westchester County
(across from the Croton-Harmon Metro North station, take Metro North
Hudson Line train from Grand Central Station to Croton-Harmon)
For information or to RSVP: Adriana Carozza (914) 329-6489 or
You can also sign up to volunteer at several staging areas for Justin at the
If you have a car, please fill out the form on the above link.
Email for transportation from Manhattan on
Saturday, November 1 or Tuesday, November 4.

Every day, all day – volunteer for a shift, or all day
Get Out The Vote activities for Senator George Latimer
Campaign HQs: 172 East Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck, Westchester County
For information or to RSVP: Andrew Ferris (914) 582-2167 or 914-341-1226 or
email him at
Take Metro North New Haven line to Mamaroneck; call Andrew to arrange for
someone to pick you up at the Metro North station.
If you have a car, please let Andrew know.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3                             2:00 to 8:30 pm
Phone Bank for Justin Wagner & Terry Gipson
Location: Chelsea
To RSVP & for address:
(212) 807-7733 or (917) 319-8557 or at
Bring your cell phone and your charger. This GOTV phone bank is co-sponsored by
Greater NYC for Change, VOCAL-NY & other groups.

Help tenants win! Many elections are won by GOTV activity on the weekend before, and on
Election Day. These races are very close, the NYC real estate industry is spending millions
of dollars to defeat our candidates, and the outcome on Tuesday could be good or bad.

Michael McKee
Tenants Political Action Committee

ReDistricting affects Tenants: Don't dilute our power!

"Instead of allowing voters to choose their representatives, elected officials have chosen their voters. That's gerrymandering at its worst: an undermining of competitive democracy that protects incumbents and invites political complacency and even, in some instances, corruption." NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Albany Times Union

See also New York Times editorial, calling Proposal 1 phony redistricting "reform”

By Thomas P. DiNapoli, Commentary | October 29, 2014

On the ballot Nov. 4 is a redistricting amendment to our state constitution that would worsen an already flawed system for drawing state legislative and congressional districts.

I'll be voting "No" on Proposal 1. Here's why.

For decades, legislators have been able to draw districts to their own specifications, even going so far as to carve out the block where a potential challenger's home is located.

Instead of allowing voters to choose their representatives, elected officials have chosen their voters. That's gerrymandering at its worst: an undermining of competitive democracy that protects incumbents and invites political complacency and even, in some instances, corruption.

Prop 1, as the redistricting amendment is called, purports to create a bi-partisan commission that "establishes principles to be used creating districts" and will "hold public hearings on proposed redistricting plans." The intent sounds good but the reality is the opposite. The state Legislature can still reject any and all recommendations from this commission. In other words, the amendment is an easily manipulated mechanism for perpetuating the current system instead of reforming it.

It's no wonder the State Supreme Court ruled against the "independent" ballot language for this amendment.