Thursday, December 5, 2013

Summary of the Nov. 20, 2013 General Tenants Meeting

Click here for the Summary.  
-      With a surprise visit by Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President (& NYC Comptroller-elect)

Click on "read more" below for a more detailed summary. 

We honored Jacob Brockington, Ruth Ellin, Bonnie Fine, Helen Merber, and Congress-man Jerry Nadler for starting our tenant association shortly after the building opened and tenants were faced with a huge rent increase.  About 60 tenants brought food and drink and volunteered.  We ate, we sang, we danced, we laughed – and a great time was had by all.

Building owners like Larry Gluck make a LOT of money from market rate apartments.  (9F, a 2-bedroom apt., is being advertised at $4800 a month. That’s $57,600 a year, or $576,000 in 10 years.)  So don’t give Stellar a reason to drag you to court, and don’t let Stellar’s lawyers Kossoff & Unger “buy” you out of your apartment for an amount you couldn’t live on.  
·         Pay your rent on the 1st of the month. If your regular income comes later in the month, try to borrow money or get a grant from a charity for 1 month’s rent to get ahead of the game.  If Stellar notifies you of a housing court hearing, get free legal help. (e.g. Joyce Goodman in the office of Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell, 212-866-3970) or go to LawHelp/NY and type in your zip code, find a lawyer, and housing (eviction).  Don't wait. 
·        Avoid “non-primary-residence” charges: If you travel a lot or own property elsewhere, keep documents showing that you live here at least 6 months + 1 day out of every yearKeep your lease, lease renewals, and rent stubs (or scan them into your computer).  If Stellar refuses to renew your lease for that reason, contact a lawyer.  (Private lawyers will be paid by Stellar if you win.)
·         If you have a roommate or companion living with you for 30 days or more, that’s legal but you have to notify Stellar and not charge more than a "proportionate" amount of rent.

FINANCIAL REPORT Treasurer Joan Browne reported on our finances, and will be giving each floor captain a sealed envelope to distribute showing your contributions for 2013.  Questions and contributions go to Joan in 12F, 212-864-3612, or to your floor captain.  Thanks for whatever you can give!

FIGHTING ALBANY CORRUPTIONJaron Benjamin, Executive Director of Met Council on Housing and facilitator of the Real Rent Reform Campaign (R3), noted that the media miss the BIG PICTURE about rent regulation: 
·         47% of all apartments in NYC are rent regulated.  That’s more than market-rate, NYCHA, and other housing. The median income in stabilized housing is about $38,000/year – so the occasional movie star with a rent regulated apartment is the exception, not the rule. 

·         NYC is losing its stock of affordable housing faster than it can built more.  About 10,000 EMPTY apartments every year are taken out of rent regulation through “vacancy decontrol” (“deregulation” or “destabilization”).  That Albany law has nothing to do with the tenant’s income and everything to do with landlord efforts to oust tenants paying affordable rents. (See “Protect Yourself” at the left!).  We have to change the state law.

·         The State – rather than the City – controls city rent laws.  We need “home rule” so that the people we elect will be accountable to renters.  Mayor-elect De Blasio agrees, and said he’d come to Albany with tenants to demand it.

·         Upstate legislators love having power over our rents since they get huge donations from big NYC real estate companies.

·         Owners make individual building its own “limited liability corporation” (LLC). That means one owner of many buildings can contribute millions of dollars through each LLC to Albany politicians  – instead of abiding by the limits governing regular corporations. We need that LLC loophole closed if we’re going to get any tenant influence in Albany.

·         We’ll never outspend big real estate. So we need PEOPLE power – through R3, and other tenant organizations.  (Our association is a member of several.)

SCOTT STRINGER,     Manhattan Borough President, dropped by to thank his supporters for their votes for NYC Comptroller. 
Scott noted the need for a new Mitchell-Lama-type program: diverse housing for the lower and middle classes.
He promised that as Comptroller, the City would not invest money in “predatory equity”  - housing whose game plan includes ousting rent stabilized tenants in order to make more money for the investors. 
He talked about what we need from Albany, and how we can get it.  He urged us to praise those who vote with us (like Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal who voted against giving huge hidden tax breaks to 5 luxury developments under a law called “421-a” meant for affordable housing.)
He urged tenants to go to those legislators who voted for  the 421-a bill (which gave tax breaks to individual co-op and condo owners) to say “NOW give tenants tax breaks and stop tax breaks for luxury developments.  The City needs that money.”

-      The Executive Committee