September 12—Thousands of Stuyvesant Town tenants learned yesterday that they would have to go across East 14th Street to 611 East 13th Street in Campos Plaza Community Center to vote, in accordance with a Poll Site Change Notice from the Board of Elections (BoE).
Year after year, polling sites, once numerous on the grounds of STPCV, have disappeared. Now even residents with 20th Street addresses are instructed to go to East 13th Street.
Tenants bombarded the STPCV Tenants Association Message Center and Council Member Keith Powers’s office on Wednesday, September 11, when the notices hit. Powers’s office had been working with the Board of Elections to find sites within the complex that would be more readily accessible, but the BoE did not inform him that a decision had been made or that notices would be sent. While the BoE has very stringent requirements for accessibility and number of voters allowed at any one site, there are sites on the property—such as the Community Center—that could be used, even if regular operations have to be suspended for one or two days a year.
“This begins to feel like voter suppression,” said Susan Steinberg, TA president. “What about other commercial or storage spaces on the property? And why is the Community Center no longer being made available?” said Steinberg. “We are flabbergasted that a community once riddled with polling sites now can’t accommodate its voters.”
Powers’s office is still trying to get this situation resolved so that seniors and the disabled, for whom the site was ostensibly changed, do not have to cross a street made dangerous for them by L-train construction and others don’t have to walk as much as half a mile to vote.
June 12—The State Senate and Assembly have reached a deal (scroll down for details). In summary, five of our bills—making Preferential Rent permanent for the duration of the tenancy, repealing the vacancy bonus, rent control relief, expanding the Emergency Tenant Protection Act across the state, and changing the 4-year look-back period are being adopted in their current form. Repealing high rent and high income vacancy decontrol is part of the deal but re-regulating units is NOT. Individual Apartment Improvements and Major Capital Improvements are being reformed rather than abolished. And Good Cause Eviction Protections, which would have brought protections to 5.5 million New Yorkers, was left out of the deal.
As the Housing Justice for All coalition, we released a statement calling this a "...partial victory that strengthens tenant protections against speculative landlords and opens the possibility for tenants to fight for rent stabilization across the State of New York."
Once the bills are out, they must "age" for three days before they can be voted on. We expect there to be major pushback from REBNY and RSA to try to kill the deal. We still need to keep the pressure on to make sure our bills pass and that Cuomo signs them!
Full Statement from the Upstate-Downstate Housing Alliance:
"The Senate and the Assembly have come together with a proposal to confront decades of injustice caused by inadequate tenants' rights in New York State. Housing Justice for All is proud to stand with the State Legislature as it takes meaningful steps forward to end tenant harassment, displacement, destabilization due to rising rents. This bill is affirmation of the strength of the statewide movement that we are building together," said Cea Weaver, Campaign Coordinator of the Housing Justice for All campaign.
"We can proudly say that after so many years of fighting relentlessly to ensure all New York renters get the stability they need, the tenant movement is taking back the protections we lost as a result of decades of Republican and real estate control in Albany. We are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign this proposal which would provide stability and organizing power to millions of renters and manufactured home residents across our State.
"But we have a long way to go until every tenant in the state can live free from the fear of a rent hike or an eviction. This is a partial victory that strengthens tenant protections against speculative landlords and opens the possibility for tenants to fight for rent stabilization across the State of New York. We are looking forward to working together with the Senate and the Assembly, in the years to come, to make sure that we eliminate MCIs and IAIs once and for all, that we end no-fault evictions, and that the millions of renters across the entire State of New York—no matter where they live—can finally live free from the fear of displacement."
Details from the Joint Statement Released by the Assembly & Senate:
Extends the Rent Regulations Laws and Makes them Permanent:
o This extender makes the rent regulation system permanent, so they will not sunset at any time in the future without an act of the Legislature to repeal or terminate them.
o Rent Regulation laws have been scheduled to expire every four to eight years for decades.
- Repeals High Rent Vacancy Deregulation & High Income Deregulation:
o Repeals the provisions that allow removal of units from rent stabilization when the rent crosses a statutory high-rent threshold and the unit becomes vacant or the tenant’s income is $200,000 or higher in the preceding two years.
o Previous provisions led to the deregulation of more than 300,000 units since they were first passed in 1994.
- Reforms Owner Use Exception to Rent Regulation:
o Limits the use of the “owner use” provision to a single unit, requires that the owner or their immediate family use the unit as their primary residence, and protects long-term tenants from eviction under this exception by reducing the current length of tenancy required to be protected from eviction to 15 years.
- Keeps Stabilized Apartments Rented by Nonprofits in the Rent Stabilization System:
o Limits the temporary non-profit exception to rent stabilization by requiring units to remain rent-stabilized if they are provided to individuals who are or were homeless or are at risk of homelessness.
o Provides that individuals permanently or temporarily housed by nonprofits status as tenants while ensuring that units used for these purposes remain rent stabilized.
- Repeals the Vacancy Bonus & Longevity Bonus:
o Repeals the “vacancy bonus” provision that allows a property owner to raise rents as much as 20% each time a unit becomes vacant.
o It also repeals the “longevity bonus” provision that allows rents to be raised by additional amounts based on the duration of the previous tenancy.
o Prohibits local Rent Guidelines Boards from reinstating vacancy bonus on their own.
- Prohibits Rent Guidelines Board from Setting Class-Specific Renewal Increases:
o Prohibits Rent Guidelines Boards from setting additional increases based on the current rental cost of a unit or the amount of time since the owner was authorized to take additional rent increases, such as a vacancy bonus.
- Makes Preferential Rents the Base Rent for Lease Renewal Increases:
o Prohibits owners who have offered tenants a “preferential rent” below the legal regulated rent from raising the rent to the full legal rent upon renewal.
o Once the tenant vacates, the owner can charge any rent up to the full legal regulated rent, so long as the tenant did not vacate due to the owner’s failure to maintain the unit in habitable condition.
o Owners with rent-setting regulatory agreements with federal or state agencies will still be permitted to use preferential rents based on their particular agreements.
- Provides Relief from Large Rent Increases for Rent-Controlled Tenants:
o Sets Maximum Collectible Rent increases at the average of the five most recent Rent Guidelines Board annual rent increases for one-year renewals.
o This bill also prohibits fuel pass-along charges.
- Extends Rent Overcharge Four-Year Look-Back Period to Six Years:
o Extends the four-year look-back period to six or more years as reasonably necessary to determine a reliable base rent, extends the period for which an owner can be liable for rent overcharge claims from two to six years, and would no longer allow owners to avoid treble damages if they voluntarily return the amount of the rent overcharge prior to a decision being made by a court or Housing and Community Renewal (HCR).
o Allows tenants to assert their overcharge claims in court or at HCR and states that while an owner may discard records after six years, they do so at their own risk.
- Reforms Rent Increases for Major Capital Improvements (MCIs):
o Lowers the rent increase cap from 6% to 2% in New York City and from 15% to 2% in other counties.
o Provides the same protections of the 2% cap going forward on MCI rent increases attributable to MCIs that became effective within the prior 7 years.
o Lowers increases further by lengthening the MCI formula’s amortization period.
o Eliminates MCI increases after 30 years instead of allowing them to remain in effect permanently.
o Significantly tightens the rules governing what spending may qualify for MCI increases and tightens enforcement of those rules by requiring that 25% of MCIs be inspected and audited.
- Reforms Rent Increases for Individual Apartment Improvements (IAIs):
o Caps the amount of IAI spending at $15,000 over a 15-year period and allow owners to make up to 3 IAIs during that time.
o Makes IAI increases temporary for 30 years rather than permanent and requires owners to clear any hazardous violations in the apartment before collecting an increase.
- Requires Annual Report From HCR On Rent Administration and Tenant Protection:
o Requires the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to submit an annual report on the programs and activities undertaken by the Office of Rent Administration and the Tenant Protection Unit regarding implementation, administration, and enforcement of the rent regulation system.
o The report will also include data points regarding the number of rent stabilized units within each county, applications and approvals for major capital improvements, units with preferential rents, rents charged, and overcharge complaints.
- Co-Op/Condo Conversion Reforms:
o Strengthens and makes permanent the system that protects tenants in buildings that owners seek to convert into co-ops or condos.
o Eliminates the option of “eviction plans” and institutes reforms for non-eviction plans.
o Requires 51% of tenants in residents to agree to purchase apartments before the conversion can be effective. (Currently 15% of apartments must be sold and the purchasers may be outside investors.)
o For market-rate senior citizens and disabled tenants during conversion, evictions are permitted only for good cause, where an unconscionable rent increase does not constitute good cause.
- Establishes Rent Stabilization as an Option for Localities Statewide:
o Removes the geographical restrictions on the applicability of the rent stabilization laws, allowing any municipality that otherwise meets the statutory requirements (e.g., less than 5% vacancy in the housing stock to be regulated) to opt into rent stabilization.
- Establishes Stronger Housing Security and Tenant Protections Statewide:
o Creates transformational protections for all residential tenants throughout the state.
o Bans the use of so-called “tenant blacklists” - protecting tenants who enforce their rights.
o Limits security deposits to one month’s rent and provides required procedures to ensure the landlord promptly returns the security deposit.
o Includes a wide variety of protections for tenants during the eviction process, including strengthening protections against retaliatory evictions.
o Creates the crime of unlawful eviction, where a landlord illegally locks out or uses force to evict a tenant, as a Class A Misdemeanor and also punishable by a civil penalty of between $1,000 and $10,000 per violation.
o Requires landlords to provide notice to tenants if they intend to increase the rent more than 5% or do not intend to renew the tenants’ lease.
o Provides tenants more time in eviction proceedings to get a lawyer, fix violations of the lease, or pay rent owed.
o Expands the ability of the court to stay an eviction for up to one year if the tenant cannot find a similar suitable dwelling in the same neighborhood after due and reasonable efforts or the eviction would cause extreme hardship.
- Implements Mobile & Manufactured Home Tenant Protections:
o Limits rent increases to 3% unless the increase is justifiable, in which case the park owner may increase rent up to 6%. Should the park owner need an increase higher than 6%, the owner must apply for a hardship allowance from HCR.
o Establishes new Rent-to-Own protections that would protect MMH tenants attempting to purchase a home from a MMH park owner or operator.
o Adds a “Homeowner’s Bill of Rights” rider for all leases.
o Strengthens protections against evictions from parks, including for seasonal residents.
o Creates new protections for MMH owners if a park owner or operator decides to change the use of the park by prohibiting a park owner from starting an eviction case against a MMH for 2 years and provide a stipend up to $15,000 when they are evicted due to the change of use.
Sign an on-line petition
REALLY EASY—PHONE THE ELECTEDS
Governor Andrew Cuomo: give your zip code (his office tracks this info)
(518) 474-8390 (9 a.m.–5 p.m.)
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie: at both his offices
(518) 455-3791 and (718) 654-6539
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins: at both her offices
(518) 455-2585 and (914) 423-4031
Senator Brian Kavanagh, Chair, Senate Housing Committee: Brian owes us for voting for him all the years he was in the Assembly! Now it’s payback time.
Call all 3 offices: (212) 298-5565, (718) 875-1517, and (518) 455-2625
Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair, Assembly Housing Committee
Thank him for holding hearings where tenants could share their concerns with the committee.
(518) 455-5214 and (718) 743-4078
TALKING POINTS: Thank the governor or legislator for what s/he’s done so far for tenants. Then say you’re a rent-stabilized tenant in STPCV and you’re counting on him/her to support all 9 bills. That includes the MCI bill, the IAI bill, making preferential rent the base rent, and good-cause eviction since over 5,000 apartments are soon to be deregulated in our community.
MORE FROM HOME
Submit written testimony. Not sure what to write?
See the tenant platform at housingjusticeforall.org to emphasize what’s important to you. For info on how STPCV is affected, see the TA website under Resources, Rent Laws Expire 2019. Be sure to include why this matters to you personally, the more heart-rending the better. Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or fax to (518) 426-6956.
Civil disobedience: Go to Albany on June 4; get arrested. Lock arms, sit down, block offices. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to Albany on June 4—support those getting arrested.
STILL HAVE ENERGY? ACT FOR THE RENT GUIDELINES BOARD—BEFORE THE FIX IS IN
Attend the final vote of the RGB on Tuesday, June 25, at Cooper Union. Join other city tenants in expressing your outrage—the louder the better. Wear your TA T-shirt. Vote is scheduled for 7 p.m., rally beforehand. Proposed range of increases.
Submit written testimony. Landlords have been consistently making a profit. You have not. Make it personal. By mail: Chair, NYC Rent Guidelines Board, 1 Centre Street, Suite 2210, New York, NY 10007. Online. Fax: (212) 669-7488
DRAMA KINGS AND QUEENS
Testify in person: You get 2 minutes. Hearing is Thursday, June 20, 5–8 p.m., at 127 West 127th St. Call (212) 669-7480 by noon, Wednesday, June 19, to register to speak, or register when you arrive. Or just attend to support other tenants.
Thurs., May 30, 6:30 p.m.: Tenants Association Annual Meeting. Election of Board Members & Other Tenant Business.
If you stopped to talk to us at the flea market
. . . you’ve been getting our eblasts
. . . you’re a member of our Facebook page
We hope you’ll join us at our annual meeting.
The purpose of this meeting is the election of board members (paper ballots were mailed to those who were members as of March 20, 2019).
Board members will be providing updates on such vital topics as:
- Albany: How state rent regulation reform is going—new laws that will affect all of us
- Where we stand on outstanding MCIs—such as hot water heaters
- Update on the East 20th Street reconfiguration and new construction for flood protection
- Quality-of-life issues addressed with management
There will be a brief Q & A.
Date: Thurs., May 30, 2019
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: Mount Sinai Beth Israel / Bernstein Pavilion / Podell Auditorium, 10 Nathan D. Perlman Place (between 15th and 16th Streets, one block west of First Avenue)
Rent laws that protect all of us expire 6/15/19. This year we have a tenant-friendly legislature, and many of its members are cosponsoring nine bills that strengthen and expand the laws.
WE ALL HAVE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. The governor and legislators need to see we care and how important this is for tenants. Four years ago we filled three buses—let's do it again!
- Paying market rate with a preferential rent? Your lower, preferential rent will be the basis of renewal increases, if any.
- Longtime tenant? The protections of rent stabilization will be extended. MCIs will no longer suck extra money from your wallet.
- Thinking of moving? You’ll get the right to renew the lease at your new place at a reasonable amount.
So get on the bus to Albany, Tues., May 14.
RSVP: By May 5, reserve your place online. Fill in Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village in the space for organization. Or call (212) 979-6958. Questions? Contact the TA Message Center at (866) 290-9036.
Learn more about how the laws affect ST/PCV.
Sign a petition.
Paying market rate? Longtime tenant? Join us for a rally and march to show Albany tenant strength. We need stronger and expanded rent laws this year.
Time: 5:30 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.)
Where: Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 W. 138th St. (betw. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and Lenox Ave.)
After the rally, we’ll march to the State Office Building on 125th St.
Let us know if you’re coming. If enough people sign up, we may get our own bus.
Whether you’re a longtime tenant or you’re paying a market-rate rent—we’ve got a law for you:
Paying a market-rate, preferential rent? Any increase should be based on that amount, not the higher legal rent in your lease. Don’t you want the right to renew your lease? Unless the law changes, you’ll lose that in June 2020. More than half of STPCV apartments have preferential rents.
Longtime rent-stabilized tenant? You need relief from MCIs, and you need rent stabilization to continue.
Tenants and advocates have mounted the Housing Justice for All campaign to expand and strengthen the rent laws. Nine bills address the housing crisis all over the state.
Who’s against us? Big Real Estate—and the politicians who take their money. Big Real Estate has big bucks, but tenants have votes. Tenants and their advocates have been lobbying hard in Albany, and the climate is right for the change and justice that tenants need and deserve.
Hope to see you at the rally. RSVP.
Can’t make it? What else you can do:
Twitter: @NYGovCuomo, @CarlHeastie, @AndreaSCousins
Hashtags: #TenantTuesday #TenantPower #UniversalRentControl #HousingIsAHumanRight #PredatoryEquity
Sign a pledge.
The Board of Directors of the STPCV Tenants Association endorses two candidates for positions on the board as recommended by the Nominating Committee. The election date is May 30, 2019.
Candidates endorsed by the Board include:
Alvin D. Doyle
Current member of the board of the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, Al served as president of the TA for 23 years. During that time, he led bus trips to Albany when rent regulation laws were expiring, provided testimony year after year before the Rent Guidelines Board, and led rallies and protests. As vice president of H. M. Hughes Construction Company, he used his construction knowledge to assist the TA’s attorney to challenge numerous MCIs, most notably helping achieve a $3.9 million settlement on defective windows. Al continues to apply his long history of events to help the TA fight for affordability.
Current president of the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, Susan spent her career as marketing director for major architectural and engineering firms in New York City. A member of the Tenants Association since 1997, she served as its vice president, executive president, and chair before being elected president in 2015. She is a vice chair of the Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee of Community Board 6. In addition, she serves on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Task Force and on the Mount Sinai Community Advisory Committee. In 2013, Susan received a New York State Senate Women of Distinction award, sponsored by NY State Senator Brad Hoylman.
The petitioning period to be a candidate for the board is now beginning. Interested candidates may seek a place on the ballot by submitting a petition signed by a minimum of thirty (30) members of the TA who are current in their dues as of the March 20, 2019, Record Date. No more than one candidate’s name may be included on any one petition.
Petitions must include signature, printed name, address, and apartment number. The Nominating Committee will judge the validity of all petitions. Petitioning ends on April 6, 2019.
Petition forms are available for download from the Tenants Association website. In addition to your petition, you must submit a document that includes:
- Your name, address (including apartment number), telephone, and email;
- A statement that you are 18 years of age or older; and
- A summary of your qualifications in 100 words or less.
On April 2, 2019, TA representatives will be available at the Community Center 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. to verify the membership status of petition signers.
Petitions and accompanying documentation should either be—
- postal mailed to Nominating Committee, ST/PCV Tenants Association, P.O. Box 1202, New York, NY 10009 and received at the post office no later than April 6, 2019; OR
- dropped in our drop box at Oval Services (17A Stuyvesant Oval), or the Community Center (449 East 14th Street, First Avenue Loop), or Zeichner’s Wines & Liquors (279 First Avenue) no later than 3:00 p.m., April 6, 2019; OR
- emailed in PDF format to email@example.com no later than April 6, 2019.
Nominating Committee: Michael Lang, John J. Sheehy, Judith Miller, Patricia Levenson, and Patricia Sallin.
Ride the bus with the TA to fight for rent reform. Whether you’re a longtime tenant or a preferential renter, rent reform affects you.
Bills that give tenants relief have been written and are in committee in the state legislature. But we have to keep up the pressure—landlords are lobbying legislators too.
That’s why we’re going to Albany—to show legislators how important this is to us and tell them our stories.
A bus will leave at 6:45 a.m. from 235 Second Ave. (between 14th & 15th Sts.). Please arrive by 6:30 a.m. We’ll leave Albany at about 3 p.m. The trip takes about 3 hours. Appointments with legislators are being made, and there may be a rally.
RSVP by Saturday, Feb. 23, is a MUST: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeXs6uE9lJxmE7VrJAsqu2O0iiiu-3irg6EONhwO0tI3hAnHA/viewform. The form allows you to add three additional friends or neighbors.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU CAN’T GO TO ALBANY: You can “vote” on the state senate and assembly pages for each bill. Links at https://www.stpcvta.org/rent_laws_expire_2019
NOTICE TO ALL RESIDENTS
The Nominating Committee of the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association (the “TA”) is soliciting candidates for election to the TA’s Board of Directors. Five director positions are available. The election will take place in May 2019.
This is an excellent opportunity for the community-minded to participate in a meaningful leadership role and help make decisions that have a positive impact on your neighbors and yourself.
Deadline for submission of applications for Director is January 28, 2019.
Requirements for Director
- A resident of Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village
- 18 years of age or older
- Current member of the TA
In addition, candidates:
- Should be prepared to spend at least 20 hours each month on TA business
- Commit to a monthly board meeting and other phone or in-person TA meetings as needed
- Be prepared to participate in one or more TA committees
Candidates must submit documentation to the Nominating Committee by January 28, 2019, consisting of:
- A résumé or biography, maximum of two pages, stating relevant qualifications, including past community activities, or professional or work experience
- A brief statement of why you are interested in serving on the Board
- Best contact phone number and email address
Applications should be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
As of 1/14/19, it looks as though the L-pocalypse has been averted. Here are some ways to stay up-to-date and places to go for info:
Press release 1/3/19: “MTA Announces L Train Shutdown Averted”
The press release describes the new proposals for fixing the L train tunnel and gives bios for the review team that came up with the proposals.
L Project: On this website you can
- sign up for the L Project Weekly, an email update
- submit a comment
- find out what work has been completed and what is continuing
“L Project Changes: What You Need to Know”: Read the MTA fact sheet.
Gothamist: “Andy Byford Says He Won’t Be ‘Steamrolled’ into an Unsafe L Train Plan”
Office of the Governor: “Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Convenes Expert Panel to Present Recommendations for L Trains Tunnel Project”
Contains links to the video of the presentation
New York Times, Opinion: “Cuomo’s Risky L Train Fix” by Carmen Bianco, president of New York City Transit, 2013–2015
New York Times, “Is the Fix for the L Train Apocalypse Too Good to Be True?” by Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Winnie Hu
Spectrum News/NY1, Inside City Hall: “Experts on Team that Came Up with New L Train Repair Plan Break Down the Process”