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.