Monday, February 7, 2011

Review of the Manhattan Town Hall Meeting on Rent Regulation

Last week's Manhattan Town Meeting hosted by the Real Rent Reform Campaign had a terrific turnout: over 300 people all told, with at least 8 from our building.

The Assembly Members spoke about what they would do to ensure renewal and strengthening of the rent laws. (These laws EXPIRE on June 15, 2011!!!!)  The Assembly Members who spoke included:

Danny O'Donnell  - our Assembly Member,  told Governor Cuomo that he would not even READ the property tax cap bill until rent regulation renewal and strengthening was passed, and has shared that view with Speaker Sheldon Silver.  Go, Danny!

Linda Rosenthal of the Upper West Side is the prime sponsor of the vacancy decontrol and Mitchell-Lama bills (in slightly altered form they're part of the Omnibus Rent Bill)  She heads the Mitchell-Lama Subcommittee of the Assembly's Housing Committee.  She noted that we NEED these bills to save our homes - and mentioned that she sleeps in her red R3 t-shirt  (and thus verified a statement her colleague made at the Jan. 20th hearing:  that Linda Rosenthal lives, breathes and sleeps real rent reform!). What would we do without her!

Guillermo Linares of Washington Heights, the newest member of the Assembly, movingly spoke about the people coming to his district office for help - two-thirds of whom are there because of housing problems. (View a short clip: Assembly member Linares (en espaƱol)

Deborah Glick of the West Village noted that owners and their lawyers routinely violate the law by challenging "primary residency" (whether the tenant actually is living in that apartment) in the middle of lease terms. (This is against the law, which limits such challenges to when leases are supposed to be renewed.)  She wants to challenge the lawyers through the NYS Attorney General's office and his hoping Eric Schneiderman will be receptive.    (That's good, but
we need to know how she will ensure the renewal and strengthening of the rent laws this year!! If they expire, lease challenge provisions will be irrelevant.)

Brian Kavanagh of the Lower East Side (who represents Stuyvesant Town among other developments)  exhorted tenants to stay on top of what their legislators are ACTUALLY doing -  not just what they're saying.  See a video clip of him speaking on 421-a - a tax-break provision that developers love and that expires this year too - making it an obvious choice for leverage.  (Here's another video clip of Brian Kavanagh speaking on Mayor Bloomberg and the rent laws.)

Keith Wright likened the Assembly Members there to a basketball team for rent regulation renewal, with Linda Rosenthal as the forward and Richard Gottlieb as the captain - and urged everyone to come up to Albany in those easily identifiable red "R3" (Real Rent Reform)
shirts.  If you have one and go to Albany, wear it.  In the meantime, the R3 campaign is figuring out how to come up with more!  (And if you get on the bus to Albany and don't already have a shirt, they'll give you one!)

Richard Gottfried, the Assembly Member present who has been in Albany the longest fighting for tenants (among other excellent causes), told of his ambitions for tenants (rent regulation protections for all!) that go even beyond the Omnibus bill. Assembly member Gottfried says he withhold support of 421a.  (See a video clip.)

The video clips were filmed by Bennett Baumer of the R3 campaign.

If you have friends in Brooklyn, tell them about the Brooklyn Town Hall Meeting on Rent Regulation on February 17th at 6 PM at the  Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church,
85 S. Oxford Street at Lafayette Avenue.