Judge offers recusal; delay in TA lawsuit to protect all apartments

Update: On March 26, 2021, the plaintiffs (four Roberts tenants and the Tenants Association) and the defendant (Blackstone) were to engage in oral arguments on whether the state’s new rent laws (Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019) supersede the city’s regulatory agreement with Blackstone allowing for deregulation of the J-51 units. That morning Justice Barry Ostrager of the New York State Supreme Court realized he had a conflict. 

Background: Concerned that Blackstone would start to remove thousands of our apartments from the protections of rent stabilization and not abide by the state housing law of 2019, the TA and tenant plaintiffs filed a motion for declaratory judgment in State Supreme Court on March 4, 2020. The next day we announced this in a press conference held on 16th Street and First Avenue, where we were joined by many elected officials and neighbors. The J-51 tax break would expire on June 30, 2020. The affected tenants were plaintiffs in the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer case that restored all our apartments to rent stabilization.

Reviewing briefs and documents of our case, the judge realized for the first time that the defendant, BPP LLC, was Blackstone. The name Blackstone had never come up in any of the documents. Prior to becoming a judge, Ostrager had been a partner for many years in the firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and had worked extensively for Blackstone. 

Realizing the conflict, he sent a Court Notice offering recusal. Although the judge thought he could be fair, on extensive discussion with our attorneys at Collins, Dobkin & Miller, the plaintiffs and the TA’s board of directors decided to accept the judge’s offer to recuse, which Justice Ostrager acknowledged. As a result, the case will be turned over to a new judge.

We want to note that given the extensive ties between the judge’s former law firm and the Blackstone group, we were disappointed that counsel for the defendants did not independently bring this potential conflict to the judge’s attention when this action was first assigned over a year ago. It might have spared any delay that may now result from a transfer to a new justice.

The Tenants Association will keep you updated on developments. More information about the case, including an FAQ, is on our website.

Posted 4/7/21


4 Candidates Endorsed for the Board; Other TA Members May Petition

NOTICE TO ALL RESIDENTS
The Board of Directors of the STPCV Tenants Association endorses four candidates for positions on the board as recommended by the Nominating Committee. The election date is May 25, 2021.

Candidates endorsed by the board include:

Nicholas Boston
Nick is a proud New Yorker since 1994 and Stuy Town resident since 2017. He is a tenured professor of media studies at Lehman College of the City University of New York (CUNY). A graduate of Columbia and Cambridge Universities, he is a three-time elected senator of the University Faculty Senate, which represents all 26 colleges and graduate schools of CUNY. A former reporter for the New York Observer, he is a frequent commentator on television, radio, and digital platforms, including NBC Channel 4 and WNYC. He is a member of several professional organizations such as the American Sociological Association and the National Association of Black Journalists.

Sherryl Kirschenbaum (incumbent)
Sherry raised her two children in Stuyvesant Town and is a retired registered nurse. She was elected to the TA board as a director in 2013. She continues as manager of the TA’s Message Center, overseeing the phone volunteers who respond to inquiries from residents. She is the Tenants Association’s liaison to the Building Leader network and contact for all new volunteers who reach out to the TA. She is also a member of the Maintenance and Quality of Life Committee, which meets with management monthly, and she represents STPCV on the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Community Advisory Board.

Judith Preble Miller (incumbent)
Judith has lived in Stuyvesant Town since 1975. A retired attorney and supervisor for the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice, she has experience dealing with people of varying viewpoints. She is a two-term past President of the Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats. Judy wishes to continue to work actively to preserve affordable housing and a safe environment in New York City. She took part in Housing Justice for All bus trips to Albany and in other rallies to influence legislators to enact the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019.

Sandro Sherrod (incumbent)
Sandro is the director of Collaborative Strategy and Audiovisual Engineering for the NYU Langone Health System, responsible for design, operations, and implementation of integrated technology equipment. A past chair of Manhattan Community Board Six, he currently serves as first vice chair and is past chair of the Land Use and Waterfront Committee. Sandro also served as president of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club, on the board of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, and as an officer of the 13th Precinct Community Council. An active member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, he serves in leadership roles, including as a national division chief for Public Affairs.

 

PETITIONING

The petitioning period to be a candidate for the board is now beginning for those who did not apply during the interview period. Interested candidates who are residents and current members of the TA 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. No more than one candidate’s name may be included on any one petition.

Note: Due to the pandemic, this year we are not requiring actual signatures on the petition. Instead, candidates should contact residents and neighbors who are current TA members and ask to list them as signatories. Candidates submitting the petition will be attesting that they have permission to list the signatories.

Petitions must include printed name, address, apartment number, and email address or phone number. The Nominating Committee will judge the validity of all petitions. Petitioning ends on March 20, 2021.

The petition form is available for download on the Tenants Association website. In addition to the petition, candidates must submit a document that includes:

  • Their name, address (including apartment number), and best contact telephone and email;
  • A statement that they are 18 years of age or older; and
  • A summary of their qualifications in 100 words or less.
  • A bio or résumé no longer than two pages briefly stating their interest in joining the board with a summary of experience.

Petitions and accompanying documentation should either be—

  • mailed to Nominating Committee, ST/PCV Tenants Association, P.O. Box 1202, New York, NY 10009-1202 and received at the post office no later than March 20, 2021; OR
  • sent in PDF form via email to [email protected] no later than 5:00 p.m., March 20, 2021.

 Candidates should:

  • be prepared to spend at least 20 hours each month on TA business
  • commit to a monthly board meeting and other phone, remote video, or in-person TA meetings as needed
  • be prepared to participate in one or more TA committees

 

Nominating Committee: Denise Favorule, Michael Lang, Adam Liggio, Edmund Dunn, and Steven Pollock.

 

Posted 3/3/21


2021 TA Board Election—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. Three director positions are available. The election will take place in May 2021.

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 their neighbors and themselves.

Deadline for submission of applications for Director is February 7, 2021.

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, remote video, or in-person TA meetings as needed
  • Be prepared to participate in one or more TA committees

Application Requirements

Candidates must submit documentation to the Nominating Committee by February 7, 2021, consisting of:

  • A résumé or biography, maximum of two pages, stating relevant qualifications, including past community activities, 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 in PDF format via email to [email protected]. Once a candidate is deemed qualified, an interview will follow. Residents will be notified of the approved slate and informed of an alternate process for running if not on the slate.

 

Posted 1/14/21


Accomplishments & actions of your TA in 2020: the year so far

Tired of 2020? We are too! But here’s just some of what we’ve been doing for you—before and during COVID.

JANUARY
Lobby and intercom directories: we pressured management, and they agreed to restore names as legally required to do but only on an opt-in basis. It’s hard to be a good neighbor if you don’t know who lives in your building.

FEBRUARY
Rent increases are decided in June. Tenants and advocates mobilized early. TA board members and neighbors rallied at Gracie Mansion for a rent rollback from the Rent Guidelines Board.

MARCH
MAJOR LEGAL ACTION! The TA filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court to keep all our apartments protected by rent regulation—that’s what we believe the housing law of 2019 intends. Property owner Blackstone thinks they can deregulate more than 4,000 of our apartments. This is the first tenant-led legal effort to validate the state’s new rent laws.

Is your rent over $2,800? Our lawsuit likely affects you.
Are you a member of the Tenants Association?
Your dues help us take legal action to protect you.

BECOME A MEMBER TODAY

The TA held a press conference at 16th St. and First Ave. Who turned out to support us? Our neighbors—and State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, City Council Member Keith Powers, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Borough President Gale Brewer, a representative of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and TA attorney Tim Collins.

AND THEN THERE WAS COVID-19 . . .
When the pandemic shutdown hit, we eblasted links to family-friendly programs as well as links to information to keep you safe and well, including food takeout and delivery.

Tenants told us they were having trouble paying the rent. We reached out to General Manager Rick Hayduk to ask: how will Blackstone make it possible for tenants to stay in their homes and what rent relief will be provided?

APRIL
We relayed NYPD warnings about scams targeting stimulus payments, small business relief, and advice about domestic violence during the lockdown.

Census 2020: we started beating the drum.

We alerted you to COVID testing and Council Member Keith Powers’s small business town hall.

MAY
Our first-ever Zoom annual meeting: our electeds answered your questions, and we welcomed three new members to our board of directors.

We eblasted to let you know how to volunteer from home, warned you about Medicare fraud related to COVID, and told you how to get an absentee ballot for the June primary.

Landlords challenge the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 in court—we joined an amicus brief to protect rent regulation.

JUNE
Rent Guidelines Board—testifying for a rent freeze: board members testified at the RGB’s virtual hearing on rent adjustments. We testify on behalf of all ST and PCV residents every year.

Free masks: we told you where to get them.

JULY
We launched the Community Impact Survey to understand how the community was faring during the pandemic—and got 945 responses!

Inside the community and all the way to Albany—we fight on behalf of all our neighbors.
Your dues make it possible.

JOIN US.

AUGUST
For new tenants: we sent a letter to Rick Hayduk about informing new tenants of the COVID protocol on the property as well as state guidelines. He agreed to give new tenants a printed fact sheet.

Senior hours at the fitness playground: the TA took tenants’ request to management, who agreed to reserve time for seniors.

SEPTEMBER
Major Capital Improvements: state agency DHCR put out a new Reasonable Cost Schedule—how much owners can charge for items that stay in your rent for 30 years. Those costs looked unreasonable to us, so we hired an expert, activated support from our electeds, and testified at the public hearing on September 9.

Meaningful rent relief for struggling neighbors, part 1: we sent a letter with the results of our COVID survey to Rick Hayduk to bolster the case for keeping residents in their homes.

Composting: we worked with the Lower East Side Ecology Center to bring modified composting back to the property, and Council Member Powers supplied the funding.

OCTOBER
Package delivery: as requested by some tenants, we asked management to continue to keep our buildings safe and reverse the decision to have packages delivered to doors again. This proved to be controversial, but it spurred management to do an analysis of elevator use by delivery people. Result: packages will once again be delivered to doors.

Meaningful rent relief for struggling neighbors, part 2: Senator Hoylman, Assembly Member Epstein, and Council Member Powers sent a letter in support of our second letter to management. We did not get a meaningful response.

CHP 2: tenants concerned about management’s plan to construct a second combined heat and power plant on the premises approached us. We sent a letter to tenants of the buildings closest to both CHP plants to gauge their concern. We got the support of our electeds to ask management to halt construction of the two CHPs until we have all of the data tenants need to determine whether or not their air quality is safe.

 

Please become a member so we can keep helping you.

Be sure to sign up for our eblasts, and bring us your questions and concerns via our Message Center (phone and online).

 

Posted 11/08/20


UPDATE: Rick Hayduk responds to electeds regarding TA’s case for rent relief for struggling neighbors—no significant change

Our state and local electeds received the response below from Rick Hayduk. Based on the TA’s survey of the community, which received 945 responses, the TA had twice sent letters to management, requesting meaningful rent relief in the pandemic. Read earlier posts in Latest News.

October 29, 2020

Dear: Council Member Powers 
            Assembly Member Epstein 
            State Senator Hoylman 

I am in receipt of your letter dated October 16 regarding the “financial fallout of the ongoing pandemic”.  

First and foremost, I want to assure you that Beam Living will continue to work with every resident who asks for assistance.  

Our team remains committed to compassionately listening to every resident’s needs while thoughtfully addressing the issues that this pandemic has brought upon so many households at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.  We encourage you to communicate to your constituents that they can, and should, enter our COVID-19 Financial Hardship Assistance Program (FHAP). We are also encouraging all residents to speak with our team so that we can continue to support them in this constantly changing environment, including offering mid-lease transfers to more affordable apartments. 

All of these initiatives are in addition to our efforts throughout the pandemic to assist our residents and the broader community, including the Food Pantry operation and the mobilization of our team and volunteers to support residents who are homebound.   

We appreciate your feedback and look forward to continuing this dialogue. Open and ongoing communication helps us to continue to evaluate and adapt our programs during this incredibly challenging time. 

Sincerely, 

Richard Hayduk 

CEO | General Manager 



Posted 10/30/20


UPDATE: Electeds send letter to Rick Hayduk supporting our request for rent relief

Seven months into the pandemic, some neighbors still need rent relief. Management's latest response has been minimal. State Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, and Council Member Keith Powers supported our latest attempt to get management to offer existing tenants what they're using to lure in new tenants.

Read their letter.

Our previous post about this.

Posted 10/20/20


COVID-19 2nd Rent Relief Letter to Rick Hayduk

On September 10, 2020, your Tenants Association sent a letter to CEO and General Manager Rick Hayduk about the effect of Covid-19 on our community, based on the results of our survey, which gathered 945 responses. We explained why the property owner, Blackstone, should and could do more to keep our neighbors in their homes.

Management’s recent response provided no meaningful improvement, so today we sent another letter to Rick Hayduk with this message from the board of directors:

As you know, the welfare of our tenants is the Tenants Association's priority. The small adjustment you made in the Financial Hardship Assistance Program still does not provide tenants real relief. Therefore, we are responding to the adjusted FHAP and urging you to do more for existing tenants so they can continue to call Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village home.

Please read the attached.

Thank you.

Read the letter.

Posted 10/12/20


COVID-19 Community Impact Survey letter

With our community still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, today we sent a letter to CEO and General Manager Rick Hayduk. 

Posted 9/10/20


In response to recent events, the TA has issued the following statement:

As the Tenants Association of Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village, our mission is to represent and support ALL tenants of the complex. Since our inception, approximately 70 years ago, our support has come primarily in the form of fighting for tenants’ rights to affordable housing and advocating to management on behalf of tenants on quality of life issues.

As a tenants association, we want and need to reinforce that we represent and fight for every tenant. The Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association will not tolerate any acts of hate or violence directed toward any of our fellow tenants. We expect all community members to feel welcome and comfortable in their STPCV homes. 

As obvious as that sounds, unfortunately original owner MetLife’s history of discriminatory renting policies at Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village has put our community behind the times in being truly inclusive. In 1952, thanks to the Town and Village Tenants Committee to End Discrimination in Stuyvesant Town—the precursor to the current Tenants Association—the discriminatory renting policies of MetLife were “officially” overturned. However, MetLife’s rental exclusion persisted for several more decades. As a result, we are not nearly as diverse a community as we should be. It is an unfortunate part of the complex’s history. 

While we can’t change the past, we CAN change the present and future of the 80 acres of greenery we are all lucky to call home. To that end, the TA is opening a broader dialogue on what it means to be a resident of color in STPCV and the particular challenges that may come with it. Recent posts and comments on the TA Facebook page have given us a starting point and uncovered some enlightening, and sometimes disturbing, insights. We are committed to listening, learning, and changing, and have already begun talking to tenants of color about how we can grow as a truly inclusive organization and community. The TA looks forward to evolving our efforts, activities, and programs to make Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village the truly inclusive and welcoming community we know it can be. 

If you would like to contribute to these discussions, please contact us, through our Peter Stuyvesant Facebook Messenger account, via email at stpcvta.org/contact_us, or call us at 1-866-290-9036.

And finally, just to reiterate, we reject racism and hate in this unique community, and the TA will do everything in our power to fight it when we see it.

Your Tenants Association

 

7/7/2020


5 Candidates Endorsed for the Board; Other TA Members May Petition

NOTICE TO ALL RESIDENTSThe Board of Directors of the STPCV Tenants Association endorses five candidates for positions on the board as recommended by the Nominating Committee. The election date is May 30, 2020.

Candidates endorsed by the Board include:

Kirstin Aadahl
Current board member and secretary of the TA, Kirstin serves on the Maintenance/Quality of Life Committee and manages responses to tenants who contact the TA online. Kirstin coordinated demonstrations in front of the leasing office in 2014, when CWCapital issued mid-lease rent increases to Roberts tenants. Kirstin has lived in the community with her husband and daughter for 14 years. She has been a Special Education teacher, held a two-year term as PTA co-president at P.S. 40, is active in the PTA at MS 104, and works at the Third Street Music School.

Arica Aylesworth
Arica, a tax lawyer who took leave to raise her three school-aged children, has lived in ST since 2010; her husband is an original tenant. Since 2015 she has been the admin of the Stuyvesant Moms Facebook page with the goal of strengthening community bonds. She has organized community events such as donating Irish dance performances by her children and their Irish dance school for Stuy Town seniors at the Community Center, and organized toy drives through the Stuyvesant Moms group and the NYPD during the holiday season. She has met with management and Council Member Keith Powers regarding quality of life issues on the property. She looks forward to joining forces with the TA on quality of life issues and strengthening protections for tenants.

Denise Favorule
Denise is an officer and member of the Henry George School of Social Science board of directors, and an associate real estate broker with the Corcoran Group. For more than two decades, Denise has been a sales and marketing executive and a successful negotiator and dealmaker. Denise previously worked as executive VP for National Enterprise at the XO Group, the leading web-based life stage media and advertising tech marketing company serving millennial women; as a senior sales executive with global brands such as Reader’s Digest Association and Prevention magazine; and as a senior account management executive at Ogilvy & Mather, a global advertising agency. Denise studied General Business and Communications at Baruch College and NYU. She lives in Stuyvesant Town (since 1988) with her two children.

Adam Liggio
A lottery tenant, Adam was active in the tenants association where he previously lived, in Williamsburg, where he fought for better security and maintenance. He founded a food company specializing in gluten-free products and has had a career in media: as general manager of a not-for-profit film company producing social justice films for the education market, as a production manager for MTV Networks, and similar roles at other production companies.

Steven Newmark
Steven has served on the TA board for over a decade, where he helped lead organizing efforts in the wake of the Roberts litigation. As chair of the Legal Committee, he has helped formulate strategies for pending MCIs and other issues. Steven and his wife have lived in ST since 2007, and Steven coaches his children’s teams in Peter Stuyvesant Little League and the Manhattan Kickers Soccer Club. Steven is General Counsel and Director of Policy for the Global Healthy Living Foundation, an international patients’ rights organization. He previously worked as Chief Health Policy Advisor in the Mayor’s Office and as Special Counsel to the president of NYC Health + Hospitals. He is an adjunct professor in health policy at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs and a guest lecturer at Columbia University.

PETITIONING
The petitioning period to be a candidate for the board is now beginning for those who did not apply during the interview period. Interested candidates who are current members of the TA 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 April 10, 2020, 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 11, 2020.

Petition forms are available for download on the Tenants Association website. In addition to the petition, candidates must submit a document that includes:

  • Their name, address (including apartment number), telephone, and email;
  • A statement that they are 18 years of age or older; and
  • A summary of their qualifications in 100 words or less.

On Saturday, April 4, 2020, TA representatives will be available at the Community Center, 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m., to verify the membership status of petition signers.

Petitions and accompanying documentation should either be—

  • 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 11; OR
  • dropped in our drop box at Oval Services or at the Community Center (449 East 14th Street, First Avenue Loop), no later than 3:00 p.m., April 11; OR
  • sent in PDF form via email to [email protected] no later than 5:00 p.m., April 11.

Nominating Committee: Anne Greenberg, Michael Lang, Jeanette Snow, Wendy Byrne, and Bill Sterling.

Posted 3/5/20