Showing posts from 2012

Call Your Assembly Member Today!


A. 10798 renews J-51 - a tax break for landlords - and provides additonal tax breaks to wealthy developers. But it has NO significant protections for tenants.  (Speaker Sheldon Silver had promised 4!)

Don't let  A. 10798 get passed if the NYS Legislature is called back into session before midnight on December 31, 2012. That could happen since Governor Cuomo has mentioned dealing with gun laws. 

Contact your Assembly Member* now to stop it :  

No tax breaks for landlords w/o significant protections for tenants!
*To find who  represents you, click here.

New State Senate Democratic Leader


TENANTS PAC on the  ELECTION of ANDREA STEWART-COUSINS as SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER Statement by Michael McKee of Tenants PAC in Support of Andrea Stewart-Cousins Treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee Praises New Leader of the Senate Democrats
“We are delighted that the Senate Democrats have elected Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins as their leader.
We worked closely with the senator when she was a member of the Westchester County Board of Legislators during the 1997 rent law war. She stood arm-in-arm with us when then-Senate Republican Leader Joe Bruno stated that he would not allow a vote to renew the expiring rent laws. And, she stood up for us again in 2003 when those pro-tenant rent laws were up for renewal in Albany, in both years sponsoring town hall meetings throughout her district to alert tenants to the expiring laws and recruit tenants in the campaign to preserve them. Time and again, her office filled buses with tenants and sent them to Albany to show wealthy landlor…

Dec. 13 Rally - Success!


On Thursday, Dec.  13, 2012, about 50  tenants from  several R3 member groups - including ,CASA, Central Park Gardens Tenants'  Association,  the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, Make the Road NY, Met Council on Housing, PACC, and Tenants & Neighbors, among others -   rallied  outside Governor  Cuomo's  midtown office to call his  attention to  the need  for stronger HCR (DHCR)  enforcement of tenant  protections.   Shouting "Governor  Cuomo, keep your  promise!" and "Los inquilinos unidos  jamás serán  vencidos," the tenants marched in circles,  chanted, heard  their fellow-tenants speak about  unspeakable landlord  harassment of tenants, and even did a little singing.

As Make the Road lead organizer (and on-the-spot Spanish-English translator extraordinaire) Hilary Klein wrote:  Lots of tenants "were there for about an hour - beginning with a short rally and then waiting for someone from the Governor's office to come down and receive the postcard…

Dec. 13 Rally for Stronger Rent Regulations


Stand Up for Tenants Rights
Join us for a rally and delegation to deliver thousands of postcards calling for stronger rent regulations to protect tenants and NYC's affordable housing.

When:    Thursday, December 13, 2012 at noon
Where:   633 Third Ave. (Office of Gov. Cuomo)
 Cross streets:  E. 41st St.
                         Take the 4, 5, 6, or 7 train to Grand Central.

Click here to download a postcard (English and Spanish) . 

Please join Make the Road NY,  Tenants & Neighbors,  the Pratt Area Community Council, CASA/New Settlement, the R3 Campaign, and other organizations in calling for big changes to HCR’s rent regulations!

Stuy Town Settles Roberts Lawsuit


In 2009, New York State's highest court ruled that since owners getting J-51 tax breaks to make improvements could not de-regulate apartments, thousands of apartments at Stuyvesant Town / Peter Cooper Village had been illegally taken out of rent stabilization.  Roberts v. Tishman Speyer

But the court left it up to the owners and tenants (members of the Real Rent Reform Campaign) to come up with what the rents should actually be - while the development was being gentrified.  The tenants and owners have now come to a settlement - as a result of which, the owners have put up $68.7 million to compensate 21,250 current and past tenants.  

The New York Times reports
John Marsh, president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenant Association, said the settlement brought “much needed resolution for residents who have had to live with uncertainty for years now.” But, he said, “These rents are still out of reach for working families, and weakened rent laws will only continue to tu…

Former Judge & WSNA Organizer Promote Affordable Housing


Activists Address Affordable Housing’s Disappearing Act
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 3:25 PM CST

When a former New York State Supreme Court judge gets so riled up that she drops the F-word, it’s time to sit down, spit out the gum and take heed. That’s just what happened when the Honorable Karen Smith (of the Real Rent Reform campaign) discussed the state of affordable housing at a November 15 community forum hosted by the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC).

After a numbing presidential election and an uninvited guest named Sandy who overstayed her welcome, Smith’s presentation was a wake-up call to a local problem in need of serious attention. She was joined by Matt Klein of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance, who provided insights regarding the planning, building and term limits of affordable housing.

“Real estate is to New York what oil is to Texas,” Smith stated firmly, “And we’re up against it. If you look at the papers and editorials, they’re dem…

Tenants to Sen. Jeff Klein: Stick with the Democrats




Welcome Jeff Klein  

Dear editor,

Because of redistricting, the tenants at Janel Towers have a new state Senator, Jeff Klein.

We were ecstatic when we learned the day after the Nov. 6 election that the Democrats were on the verge of reclaiming the majority in the state Senate. For the last two decades the state Senate Republicans have done the bidding of the New York City real estate lobby, forcing through amendments that have drastically weakened the rent stabilization laws.

R3 at City Hall Rally


Some tenant advocates braved the rainstorm on Nov. 27, 2012 to attend the rally at City Hall to call on rogue State Senate Democrats to remain with their fellow Democrats in the interest of advancing a progressive agenda in Albany.

 One of the speakers was Barry Soltz  of  the Janel Towers Tenants   Association in  the  Bronx,  now in the   State Senate  District of Jeff Klein   thanks to  redistricting.
Click here for the video.   (Posted  by  videographer Rafael Martinez Alequin on November 28, 2012 on the   YourFreePress blog, this captures just   the end of Barry's terrific speech.)

Sponsored by:Citizen Action of New York, Communication Workers of America, Community Voices Heard Power, Democracy for America,, New York Communities for Change,  Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the Real Rent Reform Campaign, SEIU 32BJ, Strong Economy for All, United New York, the Working Families Party .

Will the J-51 bill get passed with no tenant protections?


Contact Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver:  No tax breaks for owners without protection for tenants!

Why? Read: 

TENANT/INQUILINO: J-51 RENEWAL? J-51 Stalemate Will Tax Break Trump Rent Reform? By: MichaelMcKee Published:  July 2012
For once, tenants and their allies in the state legislature had some leverage this year. The J-51 tax-subsidy program for landlords expired last December 31. The program was designed to help owners make fire and safety improvements to rental buildings, but it now is largely a giveaway to landlords and market-rate housing. Since then, the city of New York has not been able to give out any new J-51 subsidies. (Existing J-51 contracts are not affected.)
Pro-tenant state legislators and tenant advocates set out to do two things during the 2012 legislative session: to direct J-51 subsidies away from market-rate housing and toward truly affordable projects, and to use renewing the program to win pro-tenant changes to the rent-regulation laws.
In the spring, Assembly Speake…

Stand Up for Progressive NY - Tues., Nov. 27, 2012


STAND UP FOR A                                                  PROGRESSIVE                                                     NEW YORK                         
New York City The Steps of City Hall Tuesday, November 27th 12:00 pm Contact: Gregory Fries

(There's a rally at the same time  at the Rockland County Office Building,
11 Hempstead Rd. , New City, NY 
Contact  Ari Kamen, 
for more inforation. Click here for a Rockland flyer.)

Election Day, New Yorkers voted for a progressive agenda in Albany.  Let's stand up for a Senate that can make the change we voted for.
Click here for a flyer.

SPONSORED BY: Citizen Action of New York, Communication Workers of America, Community Voices Heard Power, Democracy for America,, New York Communities for Change,  Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Real Rent Reform Campaign, SEIU 32BJ, Strong Economy for All, United New York, Working Families Party

Raise the minimum wage.…

Soul-Selling required for GOP to control State Senate?


The devil went up to Albany Last Updated:11:36 PM, November 14, 2012
Posted: November 15, 2012
People sell their souls all the time. But in public?
Meet Simcha Felder, the Brooklyn Democrat who was elected to the state Senate last Tuesday, and who, quick as a wink, decamped to Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ pirate crew. It was strictly business, says Felder. The ex-city councilman — who’s lately been working for that paragon of integrity, City Comptroller John Liu — made it plain while campaigning that he’d deliver his seat to whichever team gave him the most stuff. Now, transactional politicking is what Albany does best. Matter of fact, it’s not the first time that Skelos has tempted feckless Democrats to his side of the aisle. And while it’s not known precisely what Felder got in exchange, his flip leaves the GOP with 31 Senate seats and Dems with 30 (with two races still to be decided) — making it possible for Skelos to retain control of his chamber.
But the Brooklyn pol’s marketing …

Undoing the Vote - Felder Changes Party Alliance


Albany Times Union
Party switch key to GOP Senate controlFelder's move leaves GOP one vote from dominating chamberBy Jimmy VielkindPublished 11:52 p.m., Tuesday, November 13, 2012 ALBANY — Republicans took a step toward maintaining control of the state Senate majority Tuesday when a Brooklyn Democrat announced he would join their conference.
The announcement by Simcha Felder, an Orthodox Jew who met with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Long Island, earlier in the day, brings the GOP conference just one person shy of the 32 votes it needs to dominate what will be a 63-seat chamber.  . . . .

Felder's decision — announced in a statement to YNN's "Capital Tonight" — brings the GOP to 31 votes. Republicans are now pinning their hopes on Assemblyman George Amedore's race against Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk in the 46th District, which stretches from Amsterdam to Kingston through Albany and Greene counties. Amedore, R-Rotterdam, trailed Tkaczyk by 139 votes on elect…

Negotiations to Sell Out State Senate?


With paper ballots throughout Westchester and points north in New York being counted and re-counted,  state legislators are wondering who will dominate the State Senate.

Even if Democrats win, some are negotiating with the Republicans . . . which could be bad news for tenants.

From City & State:

* Talk-show host Al Sharpton’s involvement in efforts to put the state Senate back in Democratic hands could drive the four Independent Democrats to caucus with Republicans, the Post’s Fred Dicker learns:

* Bronx Democrat Jeff Klein and Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos met to discuss what it would take to form a coalition government, the Daily News’s Ken Lovett reports:

Gov. & Mayor: Help NYCHA tenants after Hurricane Sandy!


The ongoing neglect of the public housing along the coastline of New York City following Hurricane Sandy is a shame on us all.  Occupy Sandy is helping out.  But more help is needed. 

Greater NYC for Change has prepared a letter to Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg.  R3 has signed on along with many other groups.  Have you?

The list is growing:

Advocates for Justice
Association of Tenants of Lincoln Towers
Astoria Recovers
B'nai Jeshurun
Bay Ridge Young Dems 
Brooklyn for Barack
Brooklyn Movement Center
Center for Working Families
Center for Working Families 
Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats
Central Park Gardens Tenants' Association
Chelsea Midtown Democratic Club 
Chelsea Reform Democratic Club
Chelsea/West Village for Change
Citizen Action of New York City
Click and Improve, Inc.
Cooperators United for Mitchell-Lama
Democracy for New York City
Democratic District Leader, 69th AD/Part B
Doctors for America
Downtown for Democracy
Downtown Independent Democrats
East End Car…

Dems May Take NYS Senate!


As a result of the 2012 elections, pro-tenant legislators might be taking the NYS Senate!
(Almost).  In the past, the Senate it has been dominated by Republicans (generally from upstate, with few tenants and little rent regulation), except for a short period when Democrats held a slim majority.  (But the four"extras" decided to sell themselves to the highest bidder  - the GOP.  Three of the four are now in prison.)  Now it looks like the Democrats have taken the Senate majority.  Assuming they hold strong, we could get real rent protections. 

 "Republicans currently hold 33 of the 62 seats in the Senate. On Tuesday, Democrats had clearly won 31 seats and Republicans 30 in a chamber that will grow to 63 seats next year because of redistricting." NY Times.

The 2012 Election
That may not be enough for the GOP to prevail. With a lot of support from Tenants PAC and individual tenants, Democratic Senators may have the majority. These legislators may make the dif…

Tenants Active Against Landlords/Banks in Predatory Equity


The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) has a great video of tenants and elected officials fighting "predatory equity."   That's where a landlord obtains a mortgage for much more than the building's rent payments are worth (hoping its value will increase). To pay the mortgage, the landlord must either 

get rid of tenants paying affordable rents and bring in higher-paying tenants, or stop maintaining the building.If the tenants fight back, the landlord sometimes walks away - forfeiting the mortgage, leaving the bank in charge and the tenants with nothing. 

Then the tenants REALLY have to fight.  So watch the UHAB video for a great example.

Phonebank: Make the NYS Senate Pro-Tenant


The NYS Senate has been dominated for many years by anti-tenant legislators.  Help change the State Senate's point of view by working for the election of pro-tenant legislators.

JOIN TENANTS PAC in a PHONEBANK for George Latimer, an Assembly Member running for the State Senate from Westchester.

What: Phonebank -please bring your cell phone and a charger. You'll be calling neighbors in Westchester.

When:Tuesday, November 6, 2012 (after you vote!), 11:30 AM - 8:30 PM

Where:410 Columbus Avenue at 79th Street (a storefront) in Manhattan.  

Tenants & Others in Sandy's Aftermath


CBS NY News: Con Edison was reporting about 750,000 customers without electricity, mostly in New York City and Westchester County. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said 326 buildings and 59 public housing developments are in the dark.

NY Times's live blog - click it or updates.

10:20 am Patrick McGeehan Power Could Be Out in Manhattan for Days, Con Ed Says
Much of Manhattan below Midtown could be without electricity for several days after an explosion at a substation on the East River on Monday night, a spokesman for Consolidated Edison said Tuesday morning. Click here for the rest of this article and for updates.  

Letter from Tenants to HCR : What We Need


A Letter sent by 63 Organizations to New York State's Housing Agency

Regulation Comments
Office of Rent Administration
NYS Housing and Community Renewal
92‐31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, NY 11433

RE: Recommendations for Revising the Rent Stabilization Code, the Tenant Protection Regulations, and the Rent Control Regulations.

We are tenant organizing and legal services organizations who represent the tenant community in New York City and the three suburban counties.

Enclosed [below]  is our response to Deputy Commissioner Woody Pascal’s request seeking input on new amendments to New York Stateʹs Rent Stabilization Code and Rent Control Regulations. We have attached recommendations that were first made to New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal last year. We have also attached draft regulatory language that we submitted to DHCR at the request of Commissioner Daryl Towns.

The primary purpose of rent r…

No Landlord Tax Breaks without Tenant Protections


Urge Your Assembly Member to tell Speaker Silver: 
NYS Assembly Members have more rent regulated tenants in their districts than co-op or condo residents - or landlords.

So why are so many Assembly Members co-sponsoring the bad Vito Lopez bill that combines co-op & condo breaks with a bill to renew billionaire J-51 and other tax breaks for landlords and developers? It has no protections for tenants.

Urge your Assembly Member (especially if you're outside Manhattan!) to 

WRITE TO SILVER:  No tenant protections? No tax breaks for landlords!

A. 10798 merges the J-51 tax abatements (for landlords who make major repairs on their building) with a bill that many Assembly Members favor (condo and co-op tax breaks).  Speaker Silver should  separate the two bills and not pass the J-51 bill unless the legislature also passes the necessary tenant bills. 

Click on the legislators' names to see the great letters already sent by Assembly Membe…