Thursday, February 18, 2021

Summary of our Feb. 17, 2021 General Tenants Meeting

Thanks to the tenants who made the time to participate. We all got to ask Mark Levine specific questions - and strengthen our tenant association - and we had a good discussion, covering
  • Ranked voting: In primary elections for NYC offices, you can choose up to 5 - ranking them as first choice, second choice, etc.  If no first choice candidate reaches 50%, the last candidate's votes will be re-allocated to the top four candidates according to the choices listed - until one person has 50%.  The advantages: candidates are less likely to engage in negative campaigning since they may need the supporters of another candidate; and minority candidates are more likely to be heard. 
  • Right to Counsel in Housing Court: While we already have that in our zip code for needy tenants, the Council needs to expand it city-wide.  The eviction moratorium ends Feb. 26, 2021 - or May 1st for tenants who fill out hardship declarations.  But after that, there may be an avalanche of eviction proceedings for all the tenants who have been unable to pay rent due to the pandemic. 
  • Vaccination: The Council is distressed by the cumbersome roll-out and difficult process for getting an appointment, and they're looking for a way to make it a one-stop deal where applicants don't have to keep filling out the same information multiple times.   EVERYONE who is eligible should try to get the vaccine as quickly as possible.  It's a race between the mutations and getting people vaccinated.  The quicker we have the vaccines, the fewer hosts (people who can get sick) there will be in whom the vaccine can mutate. Council Member Levine is advocating to include building staff in the list of "essential workers." In the meantime, if you're eligible for the vaccine, try to get one from one of the list on our website, include the Rite Aid on the corner  and the Duane Reade on 94th and Columbus  (botn only for people age 65 and over), and from the Ryan Center on West 97th Street. 
  • Warehousing: Stellar and other landlords are refusing to offer for rent vacant rent-stabilized apartments.  This is to get around the 2019 law that bars landlords from taking those apartments out of rent stabilization. Stellar is hoping that tenants in adjoining apartments (including above and below) might be persuaded to leave. That way Stellar can create new "Frankenstein" apartments at a new rent.  There is a pending City Council bill that would ensure that such warehoused units don't pose a danger to their neighbors by becoming fire traps or breeding places for vermin.  And there is a state bill, proposed by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, that would encourage landlords to rent out such apartments as permanent homes at the legal regulated rents.  That is different from what landlords in some buildings want: they're asking for the City to pay much higher rents through vouchers for homeless families.  While it's great to want to house the homeless (including some of our friends who lost work during the pandemic), they should be given permanent, affordable homes. 
  • Building issues: 
    • HEAT: The boilers work by cycling on and off, rather than being turned "higher" or "lower." It is possible that the boilers are insufficient to provide adequate legal heat to the building when the outside temperature is below a certain degree - for example 20 degrees.  To keep your apartment warmer:
      • Check that all radiators are providing equal heat.  If one is cooler than the others, ask the building staff to fix it. 
      • Have the staff remove your air conditioners.
      • Put duct tape around leaky balcony doors and windows.
      • Put a thin piece of foam (like an air conditioner filter) or a piece of paper over your shower vent, or just keep the bathroom door closed. That will prevent the vent from pulling warm air out of your apartment.  Covering the vent could make the apartment stuffier.   If your vent is not pulling air out, write a work order for the fan on the roof to be repaired.
    • MICE:  The H line is particularly affected.  If you've got mice, sign up for the exterminator.  If you don't get service within a week, contact a member of the Tenant Association's steering committee.
We also met Lucas Wolf, the new community liaison for Comptroller Scott Stringer's office.  If you have issues to raise, contact him: Wolf, Lucas  You can also contact Council Member Mark Levine,, or his community liaison Erik Cuello,