Thursday, May 1, 2014

News & Actions

NEWS & ACTIONS 
R3 groups and allies have been active over the last few weeks on a number of campaigns. Here are a few announcements: if you'd like to see your announcements and press listed here (and we missed them), email us atilana@metcouncilonhousing.org.

Three Boro Pool/Predatory Equity is a hot topic thanks to work lead by UHAB, scoring press hits in the NY TimesWSJ
NY World, and City Limits. (Click on "read more" below for more on predatory equity.)

AirBnB has received a number of black-eyes in the press thanks to HCC and other allies. HCC slammed AirBnB in the NY Observer, while the Working Families Party, Real Affordability for All campaign, and Met Council piled on with press hits from the NY Times, the NY Daily News, and Channel 7's Eyewitness News.

On Saturday, May 3rd, the Stop Croman Coalition and GOLES are holding anAnti-Gentrification Parade. There will also be a press conference at 12pm(noon) in Tompkins Square Park, at the intersection of E. 7th Street and Avenue A. Email 
cynchaffee@verizon.net for more information.

IN DEPTH: PREDATORY EQUITY 
How Predatory Equity Destroys Our Affordable Housing Stock

By Cea Weaver, UHAB

In the years leading up to 2008, private equity firms with access to large pools of privately raised capital worked together with lenders to grossly over-leverage multifamily housing. Making the assumptions that they’d be able to increase revenue, predatory equity companies took out enormous mortgages to purchase rent-regulated buildings. When tenants refused to be pushed out of their rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments, landlords looking to make a financial windfall took a more aggressive approach: they increased harassment tactics and reduced spending on maintenance. Buildings deteriorated and went into foreclosure across New York City.

As the housing market heats back up, Predatory Equity is returning to the rent regulated housing market. Meanwhile, tenants and advocates are still reeling from the first round of speculation, harassment, deferred repairs, and foreclosure. This week, the property owners of the Three Borough Pool, the largest multifamily portfolio to go into foreclosure since Stuyvesant Town, were able to get a rescue loan from a private equity company called Ladder Capital. Normandy Real Estate and Westbrook Partners are the property owners and also are private equity companies; they are some of the most notorious actors in the first round of Predatory Equity and this refinance of 1600 units of rent regulated housing is indicative of the dangerous return of pre-2008 lending practices to New York City.
Thanks to tenants’ organizing, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began investigating harassment complaints from tenants. This investigation lead to a deal with Normandy and Westbrook that significantly increases oversight over maintenance and management in the Three Borough Pool. Additionally, tenants portfolio wide will get $1M in rental rebates and a new management company. While this deal ensures that the negative effects of Predatory Equity will fall squarely on the private equity companies and landlords who chose to make irresponsible deals, we still need policy changes that address the root problem of speculation on rent regulated housing and that address Predatory Equity at a systemic level.

New York’s rent laws are a key tool in our struggle against Predatory Equity. By limiting rental increases and insuring the right to a renewal lease, rent stabilization provides organized tenants with the protections they need to stand up to landlords who see their homes as gambling chips. In order to continue to fight speculation in affordable housing, we need rent laws that further limit landlord’s ability to drive low and working class families out of their homes. We need to limit MCIs, IAIs, and the sneaky tools that landlords use to make bad financial deals work at the determinant of low income tenants. For too long, predatory equity landlords have profited by thwarting existing regulations; by strengthening existing laws and closing loopholes that favor landlords, we can change the predatory atmosphere that surrounds the New York City housing market.