RGB Hearing, Monday, June 20: Demand a Rent Rollback or at Least a Freeze

Landlords’ costs went down this year, but will tenants will see that in their rent?

It’s time for a rent rollback or at least a freeze. Except for last year, when one-year renewal leases got a freeze, landlords have always been able to jack up the rents—even as much as 8.5% during the height of the recession.

Tenants have to demand a fair decision from the Rent Guidelines Board.

  • Net operating income for owners has gone up 10 years in a row.
  • Landlords’ average net operating income went up 3.5 % from 2013 to 2014.
  • Rental income increased by 4.8% and total income rose 4.9%.

And too many of us are paying more than 35% of our income to rent.

On Monday, June 20, you can tell your story directly to the people who set the increases. In two minutes or less, speak in person about why tenants finally deserve a break.

You don’t have to go far: the RGB is meeting in Cooper Union’s Great Hall, 7th Street and Third Avenue, 2 p.m.–8 p.m.

Public speaking make you nervous? Can’t get there? You can submit your thoughts by email, letter, or fax. Or just come to the hearing to support other tenants.

The RGB will take its final vote on Monday, June 27.

Tenant Town Hall, June 2: Stop Excessive Rent Hikes for Tenants Paying Market-Rate Rents

If you’re paying a preferential rent—less than the maximum legal rent—you can get hit with a HUGE increase when it’s time to renew your lease: hundreds of dollars more a month—all the way up to the legal rent.

The Real Rent Reform (R3) coalition is asking legislators to sign on as sponsors of existing bills limiting renewal increases to preferential rents if they haven’t already. Can the bills get passed before the session ends on June 16? Only if the State Senate cooperates.

But we’re keeping up the pressure. Sure, the rent laws got renewed last year, but tenants need much more relief.

Our big ask: Get rid of the preferential rent loophole. Make rent increases affordable.

You’re welcome to join the members of the TA board of directors heading north on June 2, but if you can’t, here’s how you can help.

Tell us your story:

  • Did you face a humongous rent increase when it was time to renew?
  • Do you know someone who did?
  • Did you have to make serious changes to your lifestyle?
  • Are you forced to move out, disrupting your life and leaving a community you wanted to put down roots in?

We’ll present your story at the meeting (no names mentioned!) to bolster the case for this legislation. You can fill out the form at stpcvta.org/contact_us or PM us on our Facebook page. Or tell your story at #PreferentialScam

And finally, why the Bronx? That’s where Carl Heastie, Democratic Speaker of the Assembly is from, and the meeting is four blocks from his district. The Bronx is also home turf to State Senator Jeff Klein, leader of the Democrats who vote with the Republicans and against the interests of tenants.

Citywide Tenant Town Hall, June 2, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
2448 White Plains Road in the True Witness Shiloh Apostolic Church. Take the 2 train to Allerton Avenue and walk one block.

Tenants Association Announces Election Results

At the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association’s Annual Meeting, held May 14, 2016, Al Doyle, Chair of the Nominating Committee, announced the election of six directors to the TA’s board. Kirstin Aadahl, Soni Holman Fink, and Steven Newmark, all incumbents, were reelected, and new candidates Matt Arden, Gary Ireland, and Keith Powers will join the board. “We congratulate the newly elected board members, incumbents and newcomers alike,” said Al Doyle. “Their energy, commitment, and skills will help the Tenants Association keep serving the community.”

Kirstin Aadahl, Secretary of the TA, serves on the TA’s Communications and Quality of Life/Maintenance Committees and responds to tenants who reach out to the TA electronically. In May 2014, when CWCapital issued midlease rent increases to Roberts tenants, Kirstin coordinated demonstrations against the increases. She was a featured speaker at the rally at City Hall in June 2014 against a predatory lender purchasing STPCV, and consistently participates in demonstrations to strengthen rent laws. An eight-year Stuyvesant Town resident with her husband and daughter, Kirstin was a special-education teacher for 14 years, recently completed a two-year term as PTA co-president at P.S. 40, and now works at the Third Street Music School Settlement.

Matt Arden has been a resident of Stuyvesant Town since 2011. Prior to moving to New York City, he lived in Atlanta, where he held many civic posts, including president of the Kirkwood Neighbors Organization representing over 11,000 residents to the City Council. A board member for People TV, Matt served as executive director of Shoot Film Not Guns, a nonprofit providing media training to at-risk youth. He currently holds a board position with the Virginia Tech Pamplin School of Business and is employed as the senior vice president and executive creative officer at Screenvision Media, an advertising company headquartered in New York.

Soni Holman Fink has been active in Tenants Association communications since 2000, joining the board in 2001. During her tenure as chair of the Communications Committee, Soni issued scores of flyers, bulletins, informational advisories, and notices. A Peter Cooper Village resident since 1961, she was a reporter, feature writer, columnist, and editor for several magazines and Women's Wear Daily. After time out for child-rearing, she worked in public relations for Macmillan, Inc. As a freelance, she created and wrote newsletters for Volkswagen of America and other clients.

Gary Ireland has lived in Stuytown for 23 years with his wife, Nancy, and children, Bryan and Sydney. Gary is an employment attorney representing both workers and his entrepreneurial clients. His long history of activism includes working with the NAACP and with NOW to eliminate institutional gender bias in the workplace, and volunteering with the Jan Hus Church Homeless Outreach Program. Active in scouting, Gary is a leader with Troop 414 at Immaculate Conception Church, where son Bryan earned the Eagle rank, and with Scouts Canada, where daughter Sydney recently earned the Chief Scout’s Award. Gary is eager to work with our community to support positive change.

Steve Newmark has dedicated himself to the Tenants Association since first moving to Stuyvesant Town 10 years ago. He immediately engaged with the TA, spearheading organizing around both the Roberts (J-51) lawsuit and the Tishman default. He has served on the board’s Communications and Nominating Committees and presently chairs the Legal Committee. Steve provides valuable insights from his prior work as an attorney representing tenants and also as a tenant with two young children who hopes for a long, bright future in the community for his family. He looks forward to continuing his service to the TA as it enters a new phase with a new owner.

Keith Powers is a third-generation resident of ST/PCV, his family having resided in the neighborhood since 1947. Active in the community, Keith serves or has served in various capacities and organizations, such as Community Board 6, Democratic District Leader, board member of Kips Bay Neighborhood Association, and member of the Eleanor Roosevelt and Tilden Democratic Clubs. Currently a vice president at Constantinople & Vallone Consulting, he previously worked for Assembly Member Jonathan Bing and State Senator Liz Krueger. During the 2006 sale of ST/PCV, he assisted with the TA’s effort to organize tenants to put in a bid on the property.

Rent Rollback Hopes Dashed by RGB Preliminary Vote

Despite a significant showing of rent-regulated tenants from all five boroughs demonstrating in favor of a rent rollback, the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) has voted for increases as follows for leases starting or renewing on October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017:

One-year lease: 0%–2.0%

Two-year lease: 0.5%–3.5%

The tenant members of the RGB—Harvey Epstein and Sheila Garcia—eloquently expressed how tenants had consistently been providing landlords windfall profits during economic downturns. Also, given the housing crisis in the city and the city’s data showing landlords’ operating costs decreased, it was time to balance 46 years of RGB history by giving a rollback, they said.

For leases with preferential rents (lower than the maximum legal rent), these increases are added to the maximum legal rent. The preferential rent will continue to be determined by the owner.

The usual game played out at the meeting. The tenant members proposed a –4% to 0% increase for a one-year lease and –2% to 0% for a two-year lease. The proposal failed. Owner members proposed 4% for a one-year lease and 6.75% for a two-year lease, and the proposal failed. Finally, the chair proposed the ranges stated above. This passed, but with resounding no votes from the tenant members. The two owner members also voted no.

Tenants have the opportunity to testify in favor of a zero increase for both one and two years on Monday, June 20, 2016, at the Great Hall, Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street (corner of Third Avenue), 2:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

The final vote will be held on Monday, June 27, at the Great Hall, Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street (corner of Third Avenue) at 6:30 p.m.

Members of the public wishing to communicate their views to the RGB may do so via two methods:

  1. Testify in person at hearings (three minutes maximum).

  2. Submit your views in writing by addressing them to the Chair, or any Board member, c/o NYC Rent Guidelines Board, 1 Centre St., Suite 2210, New York, NY 10007, or by email to chair@nycrgb.org.

General Manager Rick Hayduk Featured Guest at TA May 14 Meeting

The STPCV TA will hold its annual members’ meeting on Saturday, May 14, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. in the auditorium of I.S. 104, 20th Street between First and Second Avenues. The first 30 minutes will be devoted to the announcement of the results of the election for open seats on the board of directors and other TA business.

A general meeting for all residents will start at approximately 1:30 p.m. Although only dues-paying members as of April 4, 2016, are entitled to cast ballots for the board, the entire meeting is open to all residents. Following a brief review of the TA’s activities for the past year, the general meeting will be joined by Rick Hayduk, Property Manager. He will update the community on initiatives already undertaken and will answer questions from the audience.  

We anticipate the meeting ending at 3:00 p.m.

Six candidates have been approved by STPCV TA for 2016 Election

The Board of Directors of the STPCV Tenants Association endorses six candidates for six open positions on the board. The election date is May 14, 2016.

The slate of candidates endorsed by the Board includes:

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Stuyvesant Town – Peter Cooper Village Affordable Housing Lottery Process Starts March 1

In accordance with the October 2015 agreement between Blackstone/Ivanhoe Cambridge and the City of New York to preserve 5,000 affordable units at Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village (PCVST) for the next 20 years, our landlord will solicit applications between March 1, 2016, and March 31, 2016, from eligible applicants who are interested in the affordable units.

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Monday, Feb. 22: SCRIE/DRIE Rent Freeze Sign-Up Event at the Community Center, 1–4 p.m. RSVP

If you’re at least 62 or disabled, you may be eligible for a rent freeze. The city sponsors two programs that freeze the rent of eligible tenants: the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and the Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE).

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Nominations for Election to the Board of the Stuyvesant Town - Peter Cooper Village Tenants Assn.

The Nominating Committee of the Stuyvesant Town - Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association (the “TA”) is soliciting candidates for election to the Association’s Board of Directors. Six (6) Director positions are available. The election will take place May 14, 2016.

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NEW: On-Site Property Manager, New Management Team Coming

On Thursday, January 7, Blackstone announced that it had appointed Rick Hayduk as general manager for our community, effective January 1, 2016. Mr. Hayduk will be establishing a new management company during a transitional period with Compass Rock.

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