Saturday, January 31, 2015

Huge competition for affordable housing lotteries

How would Carl Heastie be on rent (and other issues)

Heastie potential Silver successor.

Read about Heastie in Juan Gonzalez's NY Daily News article.   Gonzalez suggests that Heastie distance himself from some of his principal advisors including Stanley Schlein, whose lobbying clients have included the Rent Stabilization Association, and the NY Yankees, according to the NY Observer.  

It behooves all tenants to urge their Assembly Members to tell the next Assembly Speaker - whoever it may be - that we need repeal of vacancy deregulation along with renewal of the rent laws that expire in June 2015. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

421-a program could raise your rent


Assembly Speaker Silver's Departure Could End Up Raising Your Rent

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

""It's a terrible deal. We spend $1 billion a year and for that we get about 15,000 affordable units," said Tom Waters, a housing policy analyst with the Alliance for Tenant Power.
But if you live in a rental, developers want you to know that ending this tax program will result in a reduction of available units, which could then increase the price of rentals."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Avowed Tenant Champ Dethroned by [alleged] Developer Kickbacks

Former Urban Justice Center attorney-turned-journalist Tammy Kim provides the irony and the perspective of people in Assembly Member (and former speaker) Sheldon Silver's district. 

"Avowed Tenant Champ Dethroned by
Developer Kickbacks"

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Did Silver sell out tenants in 2011?

A Sheldon Silver Mystery: Did He Betray New York Renters?

ExcerptA little-scrutinized section of the criminal complaint alleges a luxury developer implicated in the Silver bribery scheme requested changes to the law. The changes were ultimately adopted.

The complaint has tenant advocates who lobbied on the bill, known as the Rent Act of 2011, wondering what really happened. For now, it's a mystery: U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara hasn't specified what change Silver made on behalf of a developer who was part of the alleged bribery scheme.

The Indypendent: Tenant Laws in Peril

by Steve Wishnia
For both of the tenant-group coalitions working on the issue — the Alliance for Tenant Power and the Real Rent Reform Campaign — the top priority is repeal of the 1997 amendment that lets landlords decontrol vacant apartments if the rent can be raised to $2,500 a month or more.
That amendment has effectively created a two-tier housing system in the city, in which new arrivals face astronomical rents and no rights or security. If it’s not repealed, tenant advocates say, the supply of rent-stabilized apartments will eventually erode to a handful occupied by elderly and poor residents. Merely raising the threshold for deregulation — in 2011, the last time the laws were renewed, it was increased from $2,000 to $2,500 — would be as inadequate as putting a Band-Aid on a ruptured aorta, they say.

Assembly Dems give Silver til Tuesday to resign or risk vote

Michael McKee's articles for tenant advocates 1/27/2015

New York Times: Assembly Democrats give Silver until Tuesday to resign or risk vote to remove him as Speaker

Monday, January 26, 2015

5 Dems to co-head NYS Assembly as Silver temporarily steps down

Democrats to Replace Speaker Sheldon Silver, stepping down temporarily.  

NY Times:  "In an unusual arrangement, Mr. Silver, 70, would not permanently quit his post. Instead, he would temporarily delegate his duties as speaker to a group of senior Assembly members."

NY Daily News Excerpt:
A source with direct knowledge of the deal says the chamber will be run jointly by five veteran Assembly Democrats — Majority Leader Joseph Morelle (D-Rochester), Herman “Denny” Farrell (D-Manhattan), Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn), Cathy Nolan (D-Queens) and Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).

Morelle and Farrell will head the chamber’s upcoming budget negotiations with Gov. Cuomo and the Senate, the source said.

Friday, January 23, 2015

NYS Speaker Sheldon Silver indicted for corruption - and how it could affect tenants

Sheldon Silver, NY Assembly Speaker, has been arrested by the federal government in part for "pressuring two real estate companies doing business with the state to hire a law firm that was regularly paying him bribes, the 35-page complaint charged." (NY Daily News).  See the NY Times report, the Times' graphic explaining the charges, and the NY Observer article.  Click here for the press conference video. 

As a practical matter, tenants depend on Silver and Cuomo as the two Democrats of the "three men in a room" who actually determine which laws get passed each term. (The third is the speaker of the State Senate, GOP Dean Skelos.) The indictment shakes up the balance in Albany and severely weakens Silver. Silver has said many good things on tenant issues and has ensured basic renewal of the rent laws, if not the serious improvements that tenants need like the repeal of vacancy deregulation and a cap on MCI rent increases.  The indictment, of course, alleges he's been collecting illegal money (evading even the very loose election law limits) from some big real estate companies for years.

Cuomo neglected to mention the rent laws

While Cuomo did discuss investing $486 million in building new affordable housing for "vulnerable" New Yorkers, he did not discuss renewing the expiring rent laws that keep housing affordable for thousands of city residents. Tenants and tenant advocates are highly concerned about losing affordable units to destabilization.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Coming up - In case you missed the calendar (on the right).

Get involved and speak out on affordable housing issues: 

Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 - Noon press conference on reforming what the Rent Guidelines Board may consider.  Steps of City Hall 

Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 - 11 AM press conference on reforming the 421-a tax break for billionaire developers  Steps of City Hall 

Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 - 10 AM Mitchell-Lama Residents Coalition and lobbying in the neighborhoodMusicians Union, 322 W. 48th St. (near 8th Ave.), ground floor Club Room, 

Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 - Reviewing Renewal: Queens Museum housing lectures, starting at noon

Monday, Jan. 26, 2015 - Real Rent Reform Membership Meeting, 99 Ft. Washington Ave. in Washington Heights

And see the calendar at the right for more activities!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tenants Legislative Program

Two powerful tenant coalitions - the Real Rent Reform Campaign and the
Alliance for Tenant Power have a single legislative platform:
  1. Repeal Vacancy Deregulation (see explanations below) 
  2. Repeal the Statutory Vacancy Bonus
  3. Reform Preferential Rent Loophole
  4. Reform Major Capital Improvement Rent Increase System
  5. Adequate Protections for Former Mitchell-Lama & Section 8 Tenants
  6. Eliminate Illegal Fees
  7. Protect Rent Controlled Tenants
  8. End Source of Income Discrimination
  9. Reform the Individual Apartment Improvement rent increase systems

Monday, January 5, 2015

Feds investigate BIG landlords payments to Speaker Silver

 New York Times: Feds investigating “substantial” payments to Assembly Speaker Silver from small law firm

New York Observer: Sheldon Silver expects to be re-elected Assembly Speaker despite federal probe

The Real Deal: Leonard Litwin, LLC loophole king, is prominent client of law firm that made payments to Silver

New York Times: Baruch Singer, notorious slumlord, is client of law firm that made payments to Silver

Daily News: Mario Cuomo funeral set for Tuesday; State of State address re-scheduled to January 21

State of Politics: Jeff Klein expects “minor” changes in power-sharing deal with state senate G.O.P.

Ken Lovett: Cuomo faces more resistant legislature in second term (Daily News)

Bill Hammond: Self-inflicted damage weakens Cuomo’s credibility as second term begins (Daily News)

City & State: Q&A with Keith Wright, Assembly Housing Committee chair, on 2015 rent law fight

City & State: Q&A with Darryl Towns, NYS housing commissioner, on affordable housing programs

New York Times: Feds investigating “substantial” payments to Assembly Speaker Silver from small law firm

New York Observer: Sheldon Silver expects to be re-elected Assembly Speaker despite federal probe

The Real Deal: Leonard Litwin, LLC loophole king, is prominent client of law firm that made payments to Silver

New York Times: Baruch Singer, notorious slumlord, is client of law firm that made payments to Silver

New York Times editorial: FBI, U.S. Attorney right to probe how state legislators bring in outside income

Gotham Gazette: Repeal of 20 percent statutory vacancy bonus top legislative priority for Senator Serrano

Journal News: Several “double-dipping” state legislators file paperwork to collect pension + salary in 2015

The Albany Project: $60 million spent on New York State Senate races this year

Wall Street Journal: Landlords accuse highest state court of pro-tenant bias

City & State: This Week’s Winners & Losers

Daily News: Harlem tenants return to their apartments two years after fire, with help from PA James, DA Vance

Sam Roberts on Queens as central to Mario Cuomo’s political rise (New York Times)

New York Times: The loving and competitive relationship between Mario Cuomo & Andrew Cuomo

Staten Island Advance: Who might run for Grimm’s Congressional seat in special election?

New York Times: Douglas Durst speaks out on his troubled brother Robert shortly before TV documentary to air

City & State: Labor issues loom in 2015 legislative session

Roger Toussaint: Police unions have a responsibility to work for a more just society (Portside)

Jonathan Tasini: Labor unions must speak out against police union leader Pat Lynch’s poisonous rants (Daily News)

DNA Info: 70,000 apply for 38 new affordable apartments in Williamsburg

The Real Deal: Nuns evicting immigrant tenants from Hell’s Kitchen SRO

The Albany Project: Cuomo donors get lots of state money

Real Estate Weekly: Cuomo administration awards $16.5 million for 240 affordable housing units

Daily News: Illegal hostel operating in East Harlem apartment building

Journal News VIDEO: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s inaugural address at 1 World Trade Center

Michael McKee
Tenants Political Action Committee

Happy New Year to All. Here’s to a significant tenant victory in 2015!