Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summary of the Sept. 17, 2014 General Tenants Meeting

Click here for a printable summary.

The meeting opened with remembrances of 

Michael Gaye, who died on Sept. 11, 2014 after a swimming accident while on a cruise;

Roberta Fisch, who passed away at home after a long illness – during which she was assisted by her goddaughter Dorienne Tsukuda;

Bobby Timmons, who died of a heart attack at 47.  The son of Delia and Robert Timmons, Bobby grew up in this building.

With the primary elections over, we turned our attention to November and who will be elected to the State Legislature to determine the rent laws when they expire in June 2015.   Speaker Chuck Delaney, a board member of the Tenants Political Action Committee, got us involved –
raising hands to see who had been to Albany to lobby, who had yet to go.  He reported Governor Cuomo’s support for the Independent Democratic Caucus that turned the majority-Democratic State Senate into a majority-Republican body – since the IDC conferenced with the Republicans.  Given that the GOP opposes pro-tenant legislation, this stalled all important tenant bills.)   When Mayor De Blasio and the Working Families Party decided to endorse
Andrew Cuomo for re-election – rather than Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout – that endorsement was based in part on the Governor’s agreeing  to support Democrats and the reunion of the IDC with the majority Democrats.  (Interestingly, Zephyr Teachout won half the counties in NY State, with 34% of the vote – and virtually no money to campaign.  This puts the Governor a bit on the defensive if he contemplates a run for president in 2016.) Partly as a result of this agreement, the IDC members running won re-election in the primaries.  Whether tenants get stronger rent laws and billionaire developers get fewer tax breaks is partly up to us as voters and people who can speak out.  And our voice will be strengthened by campaign finance reform (something the governor skirted in the last go-round). 
Senator Bill Perkins came and spoke about Democratic unity and noted that the Governor’s agreement (and that of the IDC members themselves) may not be cast-iron, and he could use a little encouragement.  So please contact the Governor to let him know this is important because unless the State legislature repeals vacancy decontrol, we will continue to deplete the stock of affordable housing in NYC: 
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
NYS Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

We also discussed an “Omnibus” (all-inclusive) bill that State Sen. Liz Krueger has introduced in earlier sessions and will update for June 2015. (The rent laws are always renewed – but we need them strengthened, not weakened.)  Her bill would, among other things:
§  Re-stabilize all apartments in our building    
§  Repeal vacancy decontrol so landlords lose the incentive to oust regulated tenants
§  Limit Major Capital Improvements (right now they are permanent rent increases)
§  Revise the Rent Guidelines Board to expand what they can consider, require landlords to submit financial records, and change the number of board members representing tenants and landlords
§  Make rent stabilized tenants “statutory” with no lease renewals necessary.

Come to the TENANT RALLY on TUESDAY, SEPT. 30th  at 11 AM at City Hall, to demand a rent freeze instead of the annual Rent Guidelines Board increases that go into effect every year for leases renewed on or after Oct. 1st

Treasurer Joan Brown gave our financial report.   Donations slacked off a bit during the summer, but you’ll have an opportunity to pay your annual membership ($10/apartment) and
contribute to our legal fund ($100/apartment) at our annual Halloween Fundraising table in the lobby on Saturday, Oct. 25th, from 11 AM to about 5 PM – thanks to Rosa Delgado and Debbie Gonzalez.  We’ll also have postcards to the Governor for your message.  Bring a stamp, or leave 50¢.

The City Council just passed Met Council on Housing’s Tenant Bill of Rights to help you Protect yourself as a tenant:   All tenants have the right
·        To belong to a tenant association
·        To have heat and hot water (heat season: Oct. 1 – May 30)
·        To get prompt repairs and pest extermination by the management – a right that is enforced by Housing Court
·        To live in a (reasonably) peaceful and safe environment.
Rent stabilized tenants have the additional rights
·        To a renewal lease for one or 2 years at their option at the increase determined by the Rent Guidelines Board
·        To a rent reduction if the owner reduces services
·        To get their rents reduced if the owner overcharged them
·        To have their family members (excluding aunts, uncles, and cousins) and those living with them like family,  for 2 years or more take over the rent stabilized lease if the tenant named on the lease leaves the apartment.

And if the owner's lawyer calls you with an offer of money to move out - and an implied threat of court action if you don't accept - just say "CALL MY LAWYER."  (Even if you want to move out, you'll get a better deal with a lawyer.)  Then call a member of the Executive Committee.  We can help.  

Got questions or suggestions?  Let us know! 

-          Sue Susman, president, sue AT  gmail dot com
-          Na’ava Ades, vice president, naavaa  @ g mail DOT com
-          Joan Browne, treasurer,  j b brownefaison (at) ATT dot net
-          Denis Hayward, vice president, HayDen [a t] nyc dot  rr dot com
-          Rich Jordan, vice president, rich j214 [at  ]  a o l {dot] com
-          Steve Koulish,  eskoolman  [   at   ]  yahoo d o t com
-          Ray Von Dohren,  vondohren  at  comcast .     net