Thursday, January 21, 2016

Summary of the Jan. 20, 2016 General Tenants Meeting with NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

Weather Alert: With snow and winds expected this weekend, remove blow-able objects from your balcony!

OUR SPEAKER:


NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer spoke to a full house.  Focusing on diversity, he said that the City should be exactly like Central Park Gardens:  with many different types of people living side by side.  As powerful as we are economically, it is our diversity that is our great strength.  

To promote diversity, he and the comptrollers of other municipalities and states (like CalPers) formed the Boardroom Accountability Project to pressure big companies like Walmart and Apple to increase the diversity of their ownership and boards - with the right for the Project to appoint a director.  Similarly, the NYC Comptroller's office rated every NYC agency (including its own) for diversity.  Last year and this, the Comptroller's office got a "C" grade, but is improving with more Minority and Women-owned Businesses (MWBs).

On housing, Mr. Stringer urged accountability:
  1. For the Mayor to build housing for poor people - which means zoning and inclusionary housing programs tailored to individual neighborhoods, and not with a minority of affordable housing.
  2. For the Governor to assure affordability.  Mr. Stringer noted that in the past 12 years, the City has lost 400,000 affordable rent-regulated apartments.  So the 100,000 new units the Governor proposed in his 2016 State of the State speech would replace only 1/4 of those.
  3. For ourselves: To propose a "Mitchell-Lama II" program that could be affordable to poor people as well as to middle class residents, with non-profit developers.
His office audited all the homeless shelters and "cluster sites" ($5000/month but lacking kitchen facilities and in some cases even apartment doors) housing over 58,000 people a night - including some 23,000 children.  Gov. Cuomo has proposed giving the NYC and NYS Comptroller's the power to take over that homeless housing if it fails to meet basic standards.  With 18,000 serious violations, a lot more has to be done. 

As part of its responsibility for the City's pension funds, his office has renegotiated contracts with Wall Street to require fee cuts and diversity.  
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STATE POLITICS:  Governor Cuomo's 2016 State of the State proposed:
  • $20 billion for affordable housing state-wide, including 100,000 new affordable homes. (The governor did not mention that leaving "vacancy decontrol" in place has resulted in losing four times that number.)
  • $15 minimum wage by the end of 2018.
  • NYC and NYS Comptrollers to oversee homeless shelters that don't meet standards.
  • Closing the "LLC" (Limited Liability Corporation) loophole that lets the LLC for each building owned by a landlord contribute as much ($150,000 per year) as can individuals to politicians. (Sue's 2 cents: This is just the beginning for what's required to clean up Albany ethics!)
  • Passing along toe NYC up to $1 billion in additional costs for running CUNY and for Medicaid.  (Cuomo is backpedaling on those.)
IN THE BUILDING:
  • If Carlos or anyone else from Stellar offers you money to leave, don't even think about accepting it until you've spoken to a lawyer.  A lawyer can protect your right to stay in your home, or can negotiate a much higher amount if you decide to leave. 
  • If the last rent stabilized tenant in an apartment moved out on or after June 15, 2015 and was paying less than $2700 (as is true in all our apartments), the apartment must be rent stabilized for the next tenant - whatever the rent increases resulting from apartment improvements.  So TELL THE FLOOR CAPTAIN AND SUE AS SOON AS SOMEONE MOVES IN.
  • Every year we get notices about our rights under electrical submetering and fire protection.  Save them.
  • Report problems to Stellar in writing, so there's a record.
  • Elevators and laundry rooms:  There's been no progress on better repairs or a new laundry room vendor.  So we're consulting our attorney about a "reduction in services" complaint.
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD:

The lowest state court ruled that Jewish Home Lifecare did not adequately deal with environmental issues in its required report, and it must address those again.  JHL's lawyers (the law firm was just joined by Rudy Giuliani!) have appealed that decision. 

Our next door neighbor's garage (60 W. 96th St., Tower West) has a new sign warning drivers leaving that pedestrians are crossing.  Thanks to TW's tenant association president Elliott Molina.