Thursday, June 11, 2009

Protest Senator Pedro Espada’s Betrayal of Bronx Residents

Join Housing Here and Now for a rally in the Bronx!

As the power struggle continues in Albany, tenants across the city still do not have the protections they deserve. Join Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and CASA-New Settlement (Community Association for Safe Apartments) as we protest Senator Pedro Espada. Please find the information below.

Protest Senator Pedro Espada’s Betrayal of Bronx Residents

Friday, June 12, at 11:30 a.m.
400 E. Fordham Road, at Webster Ave.

In front of Senator Espada’s empty “District Office”

By joining with the Senate Republicans, Espada ensures the defeat of important bills that would have protected tenants and affordable housing in New York!

Bronx tenants are especially likely to face serious challenges finding stable, safe, decent, and affordable housing. Recently, Bronx tenants and their allies had been hopeful that a Democratic controlled State Senate would pass important legislation that would help protect tenants and preserve affordable apartments. This legislation would have been especially important in Senator Espada’s district, which has 77,000 rent-regulated apartments, the majority of which are occupied by Latino and working class families.

In handing the State Senate over to Republican Leadership, Pedro Espada has directly halted legislation, which would have helped many of the tenants in those 77,000 rent regulated apartments in his district, and all over New York City.

Tenants and other constituents of Senator Espada’s district are also angry by the disregard that their Senator has shown them by failing to open an office in his district where he can offer services to the constituents he claims to represent. This fact is particularly offensive, given that it is well known that Senator Espada lives in the wealthy suburb of Mamaroneck, far outside of his Bronx district.

Tenants are offended by the fact the Pedro Espada is falsely claiming to act in the name of his constituents and of Latino empowerment. Instead of fighting to pass legislation to support his tenant-heavy district, instead he fought to take power for himself!

Directions: -- Take the B or D train to Fordham Road. Walk east along Fordham road till you get to the corner of
Fordham road and Webster Avenue.

Sponsored by
Latinos for Affordable Rents Coalition
North West Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition,
CASA – New Settlement (Community Association for Safe Apartments)
The Mitchell-Lama PIE Campaign
Housing Here and Now

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


A joint statement from NY’s two main tenant rights and affordable housing coalitions


The tenant movement in New York is outraged by the June 8 power grab by two turncoats “Democratic” Senators to regain control of the New York State Senate for the Republicans.

Tenant leaders and advocates believe that these events were part of an effort by Senators Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate, as well as their Republican allies, to block pro-tenant legislation from being passed in the Senate this legislative session.

One of the central debates in the Senate that led to this attempted power grab was the tenant movement’s progress towards passage of S2237A, which would repeal vacancy decontrol, a provision in the rent laws which allows apartments to be taken out of rent regulation and converted to market rate housing. Vacancy decontrol is currently resulting in the loss of at least 20,000 units of affordable housing every year, accelerating the affordable housing crisis during a punishing economic downturn. Vacancy decontrol has led to widespread tenant harassment throughout New York City and the suburban counties as landlords attempt to remove tenants from their apartments, deregulate them, and increase the rents.

Senator Espada, Chair of the Housing Committee, had indicated that S2237A would be on the June 9 Housing Committee agenda. Representatives of the tenant movement had been promised by Senator Hiram Monserrate that he secured a commitment from Senator Espada to vote the bill out of committee and to vote for the bill when it came to the floor. The recent developments in the Senate will almost certainly hurt tenants’ efforts to ensure that important pro-tenant legislation will come to the floor for a vote this legislative session.

Monday’s events have led to widespread outrage in the tenant movement, which has been working for nearly four decades to help pro-tenant Senators regain control of the State Senate. Tenants had believed that pro-tenant legislation that is both so critical and so urgent would finally be passed this legislative session, with a Democratic majority in power. Instead, tenants have been betrayed at the eleventh hour by the very legislators they helped to elect.

The apparent coup d’etat was orchestrated by moneyed interests and their allies in the State Senate. Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano has been credited with helping Espada, Monserrate, and the Republicans strategize their takeover. And Joseph Strasburg of the Rent Stabilization Association was recently quoted saying “we’re pleasantly thrilled.” Once again, such interests have thwarted the democratic process and the will of New York’s voters.

“The legislators who have orchestrated this revolt are putting tenants’ rights and affordable housing in jeopardy. This is unacceptable; our elected officials must be accountable to their tenant constituents who helped them get elected and who have been counting on them to do the right thing,” said Maggie Russell-Ciardi, Executive Director of the New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition.

Tenants are planning actions in the districts to express their outrage and ask their Senators to do the right thing.

Press contacts:

Michael McKee, Treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee (917) 669-2977
Michelle O’Brien, Executive Director of Housing Here and Now (347) 265-9307
Maggie Russell-Ciardi, Executive Director of Tenants & Neighbors (212) 991-2657

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Three Weeks to Go!

We have only three weeks left in the 2009 Albany Legislative Session. With one final push, we are on the verge of winning the strongest slate of pro-tenant legislation in decades. The repeal of vacancy decontrol, protection of Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 tenants, and reforms of rent increases for rent regulated tenants need us to step up and push them through. Now is a crucial time for everyone to get involved. We need you!

Get involved by joining us in Albany, canvassing door to door on the weekend, rallying in the city, or phone banking in the evenings.

1. Come to Albany

Senate Housing Committee Vote
Monday, June 8
We expect three crucial pro-tenant bills to be passed out of the Housing Committee on Monday. Join our vans going up to cheer the vote.
Contact Jon Furlong for details: (212) 979-6238, ext. 203

Mass Mobilization for Floor Vote
We will be taking up 300 people when the repeal of vacancy decontrol finally comes to the Senate floor.
Date to be announced

Daily Albany Trips
Every day of the Legislation Session, Monday to Thursday, tenants and advocates are driving up to Albany to distribute factsheets to Senators entering the chambers. Join one of these trips!
Contact Jon Furlong for details: (212) 979-6238, ext. 203

2. Canvass

Canvass Senator Carl Kruger in Brooklyn
Friday, June 5 or Sunday, June 7
Knock on doors in Senator Kruger's District, talking with tenants about current legislation.
Contact Giti Dadlani for details (212) 608-4320 ext. 316.

Canvass Senator Jeffrey Klein in the Bronx
Saturday, June 6
We are going door to door in Senator Klein's neighborhood to talk with tenants about the importance of repealing vacancy decontrol.
Contact Michael McKee for details: (212) 577-7001

3. Rally in the City

Rally planned at Brooklyn Borough Hall next week! Date to be announced.

4. Phone bank

Phone banking in the evenings Monday through Thursday!
Call tenants in key Senate districts and help get them involved by contacting their Senator.
Contact Michael McKee for details: (212) 577-7001.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Daily Trips to Albany!

Housing Here and Now and Real Rent Reform are coordinating trips to Albany during every day of the legislative session. We are distributing literature to the New York State Senate and staff on the importance of repealing vacancy decontrol.

Check out both the fact sheets we have already distributed:

4/20/09: TenantsPAC Memorandum of Support for Repeal of Vacancy Decontrol

4/21/09: A Profile of Rent Regulated Tenants

4/22/09: It's Not Just a Manhattan Issue: The Impact of Vacancy Decontrol on the Boroughs

4/27/09: It's Not Just the Rent: Tenant Protections Under Rent Regulation

4/28/09: Landlords Prosper Under Rent Regulation

5/5/09: Vacancy Decontrol Hurts Immigrants

5/11/09: The Future of Affordable Housing

5/12/09: Stronger Rent Laws Now! - On May 12, over 250 tenants from across New York lobbied for stronger rent laws in New York. Here is the flyer we distributed widely with our platform.

5/18/09: In Defense of Regulation

5/19/09: Regulation Is Not a Subsidy, It Is a Anti-Profiteering Measure

5/20/09: Nothing Short of Full Repeal! Why Raising the Threshold Won't Work

6/1/09: Vacancy Decontrol Affects Apartments Renting for Under $2,000

6/2/09: Destabilization Destabilizes Communities: the Threat of Predatory Equity

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tenant Legislative Package

Real Rent Reform Campaign
Housing Here and Now
Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development
Working Families Party

May 6, 2009

Between now and June 22, the New York State Legislature must enact a number of necessary reforms to undo years of legislative giveaways to the New York City real estate lobby that have exacerbated the housing crisis in the city and suburban counties. While there are many important pro-tenant bills pending in both houses, the following represent the absolute minimum of necessary reform. This year. Not next year.

Full Repeal of Vacancy Decontrol
S2237-A (Andrea Stewart-Cousins, et al.)/A2005 (Linda Rosenthal et al.)
This bill repeals vacancy decontrol, which has already cost New York City and the suburban counties of Nassau, Westchester and Rockland Counties an estimated 300,000 apartments that have been removed from rent and eviction protections and are no longer affordable. The bill also re-regulates 90 to 95 percent of the apartments that have been lost to vacancy decontrol in the last 15 years.

Adequate protections for former Mitchell-Lama & Section 8 Tenants
S3326 (Andrea Stewart-Cousins, et al.)
This bill provides for rent stabilization coverage for all Mitchell-Lama and project-based Section 8 buildings that leave or have left those government-supervised programs, regardless of when constructed or first occupied. The bill further prohibits landlords of newly rent-stabilized buildings from seeking rent increases under the “unique or peculiar circumstances” loophole. This is the only bill providing for rent regulation coverage of post-1973 buildings that have already left Mitchell-Lama or Section 8 and did not then become rent regulated.

Reform Major Capital Improvement Rent Increase System
S745-A (Liz Krueger, et al.)/A1928 (Daniel O’Donnell, et al.)
This bill makes rent increases for building-wide Major Capital Improvements temporary surcharges, so that once tenants have paid off the cost of the MCIs, the rent increase disappears. The MCI rent increase must be listed as a separate surcharge on the rent bill, rather than being compounded with the base rent.

Reform Individual Apartment Improvement Rent Increase System
S5296 (Daniel Squadron, et al.)/A5316 (Sheldon Silver, et al.)
This bill makes three necessary and reasonable reforms that address the key problems in the 1/40th rent increase loophole: (1) it lengthens the amortization period for such rent increases from 40 months to 84 months, thus bringing it into line with the MCI program. (2) It allows direct agency oversight of such rent increases to discourage fraud. (3) It strengthens tenant notification to improve oversight.
….. over …..
Reform Owner Use Evictions Loophole
S2642 (Daniel Squadron, et al.)/A1685 (Vito Lopez et al.)
This bill closes one of the worst loopholes in the New York City Rent Stabilization Law of 1969, which allows landlords to recover “one or more” apartments for occupancy by the landlord or a member of the landlord’s family, and has been used to empty entire buildings. This bill limits recovery to one apartment, and requires the landlord to demonstrate “immediate and compelling necessity” as in NYC rent control and suburban rent control and rent stabilization laws.

Reform Preferential Rent Loophole
A465 (Hakeem Jeffries, et al.)
This bill closes another bad loophole that allows a landlord of a rent-stabilized unit to rent to a new tenant at a “preferential” rent lower than the legal rent, then later offer the tenant a renewal lease based on the legal rent, hitting tenants with huge rent increases, sometimes several hundred dollars, often forcing them to vacate. The landlord then collects another 20 percent statutory vacancy bonus and engages in this scam all over again with a new tenant, while steadily moving the legal rent closer to the $2,000 per month threshold for vacancy decontrol. A465 allows the landlord to revert to the higher legal rent upon vacancy, but requires that the lease be renewed based on the lower preferential rent.

Reduce the Statutory Vacancy Bonus
A1686 (Vito Lopez et al.)
This bill reduces the statutory vacancy bonus from a minimum of 20 percent for a two-year vacancy lease to a minimum of 10 percent, and limits collection of the bonus to once a year.

Moratorium on Mitchell-Lama Buyouts
S2171 (Thomas Duane, et al.)/A6706 (Jonathan Bing, et al.)
This bill imposes an 18-month moratorium on Mitchell-Lama buyouts of rentals and coops, and requires DHCR to prepare a report to the Legislature with recommendations for how to preserve Mitchell-Lama housing.

Reform the NYC and Suburban Rent Boards
(To be introduced by Thomas Duane and George Latimer)
This bill restructures the four rent guidelines boards in NYC and the three suburban counties (originally designed by the real estate industry itself) to level the playing field and give tenants at least a chance of fair rent adjustments. Among the most important changes is a requirement for City Council approval of appointments by NYC mayor.

Restore Full Home Rule to New York City
S749 (Liz Krueger, et al.)/A1688 (Vito Lopez et al.)
This bill repeals the so-called Urstadt Law of 1971, named for Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s housing commissioner Charles J. Urstadt, and by doing so restores full home rule powers over rent and eviction laws to the New York City Council and Mayor.

Housing Here and Now (212) 979-6238 ext. 204
Real Rent Reform Campaign (212) 608-4320 ext. 316

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Building Momentum to Repeal Vacancy Decontrol!

We are all making strides to win the repeal of vacancy decontrol! With rallies across the city, three mass mobilizations of tenants in Albany and actions across the city, we are demanding the Senate step up and save rent-regulated housing. The bill is out – S2237-A – and now we need 9 more votes to win. The campaign needs everyone for mobilizing across the city, canvassing in the Bronx, and phone banking in Manhattan. Check out the details below!

Get Connected!

It is up to us! To win vacancy decontrol EVERYONE must rise to the challenge. Tenants across the city are taking action throughout March to push every last Senator to sign on to the bill to repeal vacancy decontrol. Get together with your tenant association, community group, church or union and join in these district actions, or plan your own.

Vacancy Decontrol Mobilizations

We will be mobilizing for the following dates in New York City and in Albany on Vacancy Decontrol. Please mark your calendars for the following:

Rally in Martin Golden's District Office
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Friday, March 20, 3:00 PM (Tentatively)

Rally at City Hall, Manhattan
Tuesday, March 24, To be Determined

Lobby day in Albany
Monday, April 6

Rally at Harlem State Office Building
Wednesday, April 15

Find out more:

Jon Furlong, Housing Here and Now, (718) 246-7900 x273

Canvass in the Bronx

Go door to door talking with rent-regulated tenants about vacancy decontrol in the Bronx. We’ll be gathering signatures, flyering, encouraging folks to make calls, and getting the word out one person at time. Senators Pedro Espada Jr. and Jeffrey Klein in the Bronx need to hear from the thousands of tenants in their district.

Volunteer for canvassing:

Orlando Torres (NWBCCC) at 718-584-0515 Ext. 412 or 917-213-7529 (cell),

Tamara Cyzck (New Settlement/CASA) at 718-716-8000 Ext. 125,

Community Voices Heard will be flyering this Thursday March 5th and Friday March 6th from 4:30-6pm.
Please Contact: Diego Quinones (Community Voices Heard) @ 212-860-6001 or via email:

Phone Bank in Manhattan

Two long-time tenant rights groups – Tenants & Neighbors and Tenants PAC – are phone banking from Manhattan offices into key Senate districts, encouraging tenants to get involved and speak out for the repeal of vacancy decontrol.

Volunteer for the phone bank:

Tenants PAC
11 Park Place, Suite 814 (between Broadway and Church Street. ½ block west of City Hall Park.)
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm for the next few weeks.
Call Michael McKee at (212) 577-7001

Tenants & Neighbors
236 W. 27th St., 4th Fl. Call for dates and times
Call Pat Coleman at (212) 608-4320 Ext. 306

NOW is the time!!!

We can win vacancy decontrol! The bill will probably come to the floor to the floor of the Senate in April, after the state budget has been passed. We have about 6 weeks to move all the senators who have not signed on yet. NOW is the time! It’s up to us! Call me to talk about how you can get involved

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tenants Take Over Caucus Weekend!

See below for a blow-by-blow from our Valentine's Day trip to Albany, and an update on upcoming vacancy decontrol actions. Our tentatively planned trip to Albany next Tuesday, Feb. 24 has been POSTPONED until mid-March.

Last Saturday, tenants from across the city flooded the Annual Black and Latino Caucus in Albany, calling on legislators to repeal Vacancy Decontrol!

Over two hundred tenants and leaders descended on the capital, calling on members and participants of the caucus to repeal vacancy decontrol. Tenants spent hours passing out flyers, handing out stickers, and collecting signatures demanding the passage of the Senate bill that would signal the most significant win for tenants in more than three decades.

Tenants held a press conference and rally at the Legislative Office Building, followed with the Caucus workshop on Housing. We were joined by Senators Andrea Stewart Cousins and Bill Perkins and our allies Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. Tenant leaders moved the crowd, including Julia Boyd of ACORN, Joseph Ferdinand and Ramona Santana of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Narcisa of Make the Road NY and Cathy Stephans of Community Voices Heard.

Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins announced she introduced the bill to repeal vacancy decontrol in the Senate as S2237. It already has 23 co-sponsors, and needs only 9 more votes to win. The fight is on to get every Senator we can signed on to the bill in the coming weeks.

We closed the day marching through the concourse on their way to the buses, chanting so loudly that there could be no mistaking what everyone was there for.

The repeal of vacancy decontrol would halt the loss of tens of thousands of affordable apartments from New York City.We need to keep the pressure on to carry the bill through the Senate! Check out who has already signed on:

Has your Senator signed on?


Great work to all the groups that made a special effort to turn out members for this event, including Make the Road NY, ACORN, Community Voices Heard, Housing Conservation Coordinators, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Tenants & Neighbors and Tenants PAC. This event could not have happened with out all of your hard work and dedication to this effort.


The tentatively scheduled Lobby Visit to Albany for Next Tuesday the 24th has been postponed. Stay tuned for an early-March press conference, and many more actions to come.

We need to do everything we can in pushing the Senate to pass the repeal of vacancy decontrol. There are nine Senators who have not yet signed on. Let's start planning phone banks, district rallies, flyering, forums, and everything else we can to get these Senators on-board with tenants. Get together with your group and brainstorm actions you can take on.


For more information on upcoming mobilizations, please contact me! I can be reached at (718) 246-7900 x273 or