Author Archives: Daniel Weinberg

For Immediate Release: December 10, 2015

PDF version here

For Immediate Release: December 10, 2015

Contact:

Wai Yee Poon, Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
212-473-6485
wpoon@caaav.org

“All We Want for Christmas is Safe Homes!” – 90 Elizabeth St. Tenants and Community Organizations Demand for Basic Building Services and Safe Construction Work

Seniors and Families with Children Are Living in Conditions That Are Hazardous to Their Health And Safety

December 10, 2015, New York, NY – After not having heat over Thanksgiving weekend, the tenants at 90 Elizabeth Street held a press conference today to demand their landlord, James Fong, consistently provide adequate building services and stop unsafe construction work.

The 90 Elizabeth Street Tenant Association has been established and working with CAAAV’s Chinatown Tenants Union, Cooper Square Committee, and Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) since 2013. Exactly four months ago (September 10, 2015), four tenants filed a housing court case against Mr. Fong, with the help of Manhattan Legal Services (MLS) and AAFE, to stop hazardous construction work and demand a tenant protection plan and repairs as the landlord has neglected building conditions not only in the common areas, but also inside individual apartments.

“We live as if we were animals while paying our rents and the owner fixes the empty units. These vacant units are fixed as if they were luxury apartments while the rent regulated apartments of those like me and my neighbors are not fixed as the law mandates,” said Tomasa Davila, a 90 Elizabeth St. tenant of over 50 years.

The Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force (THPT) confirmed the dire living conditions that tenants were facing at 90 Elizabeth Street when they conducted a building-wide sweep in July 2015, resulting in a Stop Work Order and multiple HPD violations. Demanding for more government supervision to ensure tenant safety, tenants and advocates marched to City Hall to support Council Member Reynoso’s two bills for increasing fines for work without permits and the 12 bills advocated by the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition.

Despite his claims to comply, Mr. Fong has presented tenants with an unfair proposal, which doesn’t address the needs of our tenants to ensure that the repairs are conducted with their safety in mind.  Tenants still have many issues such as insufficient heat, garbage disposal, dirty stairways that were covered in dust from the construction work, and exposed electrical wiring.

“Every renter is entitled to live in a safe, clean building with the services guaranteed by law – and being a landlord means undertaking the obligation to provide that,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “The conditions that tenants at 90 Elizabeth Street have been forced to endure are completely unacceptable. I stand with all Manhattan tenants fighting for basic services like heat, and will continue to do whatever I can to hold landlords who fail to meet their obligations accountable.”

 “For far too long, we have let immoral landlords get away with treating New Yorkers like second class citizens in their own homes,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “With groups like STS and CAAAV and tools like the Worst Landlords Watchlist, we are putting these bad landlords on notice and coming through on our promise to hold them accountable for forcing tenants to live in dangerous and unsanitary conditions ”

“Construction work is no excuse for poor living conditions,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “I join my colleagues, the 90 Elizabeth Street Tenants Association, Asian Americans for Equality, CAAAV, Cooper Square Committee, Urban Justice Center, SNYC and STS coalitions, advocates and community members in pushing for an end to unacceptable practices that are against the law and destroy people’s homes.”

 City Council Member Margaret Chin said, “This is not just a housing issue, it’s a human rights issue. For far too long, the tenants of 90 Elizabeth St. have suffered unbearable harassment at the hands not only of their current landlord, but the previous owner who refused to make necessary repairs. These residents have a right to live in peace in their homes without the constant fear of harassment and eviction. My office continues to fight harassment by helping provide free and low-cost legal services, organizing tenants, and pushing legislation to get the City to do more to protect residents. Currently, it is too easy for landlords to buy buildings with the intention of clearing them to make way for market-rate tenants. Together, we can solve our affordability crisis. But we cannot move forward without strong protections that preserve the affordable housing we have and keep people like the tenants of 90 Elizabeth in their homes.”

“For far too long unscrupulous landlords throughout New York City have used construction as a means to harass tenants.  The coalition Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) is excited to testify in support of Council Member Reynoso’s two bills and proud to stand with the tenants of 90 Elizabeth Street on this issue.  Int. 0939 and 0940 will increase the fines and penalties for doing work without a permit and for working against a Stop-Work-Order to punish bad landlords like James Fong, the landlord of 90 Elizabeth Street, who conduct aggressive, illegal construction at the expense of tenant safety.  The terrible conditions that the tenants at 90 Elizabeth Street are facing demonstrate the urgency of passing all 12 of the STS bills into law this session,” said Stand for Tenant Safety (STS), a coalition of community organizations and tenant advocates.

Christopher Kui, Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), said, “AAFE is dedicated to stemming the tide of gentrification brought in by owners utilizing illegal construction tactics to displace working families, immigrants and seniors. No matter how long the fight, we are committed to ensuring that harassment tactics by predatory owners have no place in New York City. We are proud of the work we are doing in coalition with other community-based organizations and legal service providers in the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Campaign and Stabilizing NYC Coalition.”

“CAAAV’s Chinatown Tenants Union stands with the 90 Elizabeth Street Tenant Association today. Marolda Properties was the owner in 2013 and they sold the building to James Fong in June 2015 for $6,500,000 even though the building was assessed at $572,400. This is representative of predatory equity landlords who target long-standing immigrant, low-income communities for quick capital gains by forcing out rent control and rent stabilized tenants and converting vacant units into market rate units, often after reckless renovations. We will work endlessly with our communities to stop displacement and predatory equity,” said Wai Yee Poon, Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer at CAAAV.

Bills Aim to Protect Renters During Construction Work

original: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/30/nyregion/bills-aim-to-protect-renters-during-construction-work.html
New York Times, By MIREYA NAVARRO SEPT. 29, 2015

New York City Council members will introduce a package of bills on
Wednesday intended to prevent landlords from pressuring tenants to move
out by making their apartments unlivable through construction work.
The proposed legislation, a total of a dozen bills, follows accounts of
residents’ enduring late­night noise, harmful levels of dust and damage to
their apartments, which some of the tenants said were efforts to get them to
leave their rent­stabilized apartments. Landlords are supposed to provide
tenant­protection plans when they do renovations in occupied buildings. But
in many cases, the landlords tell the city that their buildings are vacant, and
the city grants the construction permits without verifying the claims. Read More

Legislators, Tenant Advocates to Call for End of Construction as Harassment and Reform of Department of Buildings

STS sep-30-2015 flyer

Click the flyer if you can join us!

For Planning Purposes: September 30, 2015

Contact: Morgan Rubin, morgan.rubin@berlinrosen.com, 646-517-1813

Legislators, Tenant Advocates to Call for End of Construction as Harassment and Reform of Department of Buildings 

Results of Tenant Survey Show How Construction is Used as a Tactic in Harassing and Displacing Tenants and the Shortcomings in DOB Enforcement of this Negligent, Dangerous Construction

WHAT:  New information will be released that highlights that tenants, especially New York City’s rent-stabilized tenants, are being harassed through the use of negligent construction and that the Department of Buildings falls short on protecting tenants, letting bad actors continue this dangerous behavior.  The release of the survey results from Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition will reveal the urgent need for reforming DOB to better protect tenants and the New York City affordable housing stock.

WHO: Council Members Margaret Chin, Antonio Reynoso, Rafael Espinal, Daniel Garodnick, Corey Johnson, Ben Kallos, Steve Levin, Mark Levine, Carlos Menchaca, Rosie Mendez,  and Helen Rosenthal. Tenants who have suffered from construction as harassment, Members of Stand for Tenant Safety (STS), supporters, and community members.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

WHERE:Steps of City Hall

About Stand for Tenant Safety

Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) is a citywide coalition of community organizations who are fighting to protect the lives and homes of New York City tenants where landlords are using construction as harassment.  Through this community driven effort, we demand the systemic reform of the Department of Buildings.

http://www.standfortenantsafety.com/

https://twitter.com/ReformDOB

stscampaign@gmail.com

###

Ali Forney Center and Cooper Square Committee Break Ground on Transitional Housing for LGBT Youth at 222 East 13th Street

Bea Arthur and Ali Forney Center ED Carl Siciliano, picture from Seattle Lesbian

Monday, July 20, 2015: Welcome to the “groundbreaking ceremony” for the Bea Arthur Residence, an 18-bed residence for homeless LGBT youth at 222 East 13th Street in Manhattan.  The project is sponsored by the Ali Forney Center and the Cooper Square Committee.  The Cooper Square Committee is serving as the project manager from the pre-development phase through completion of construction.  The Ali Forney Center will operate the building and provide on-site 24/7 services to residents when the building is rented up.

In 2012, the project received $3.3 million in New York City Capital (Reso A) funds.  The New York City Council, led by the efforts of Councilmember Rosie Mendez, former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Finance Committee Chairperson Domenic Recchia and members of the Lesbian and Gay Caucus secured $3 million in funds, and the Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer awarded $300,000 for the renovation of a long vacant building owned by the New York City Department of Housing and Preservation Development. We received a $180,000 pre-development loan from the Contact Fund, and an additional $40,000 in private funds was loaned by the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association and the Cube Building.  The Bea Arthur Residence HDFC took title to the building on June 30th, and renovations are expected to begin later this month.

Bea Arthur gave one of her final public performances as a benefit for the Ali Forney Center in 2005. She was very upset to learn that hundreds of thousands of LGBT teens were rejected by their families, and driven to homelessness. She said that she would do anything in her power to help these teens. When she died in 2009, the Ali Forney Center learned that she had bequeathed $300,000 to them in her will. At that time, Carl Siciliano, the Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, pledged that the first building they owned would be named in her memory.

Carl Siciliano said, “It meant the world to me that a star of the magnitude of Bea Arthur would do so much to help the Ali Forney Center in our work of housing homeless LGBT youths. I am very grateful that we will now be able to honor Bea and continue to keep her compassion alive through the establishment of the Bea Arthur Residence for Homeless LGBT Youth.”

In an article prior to her passing, Bea Arthur said, “I’m very, very involved in charities involving youth. These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay or transgender – this organization really is saving lives.”

Steve Herrick, the Executive Director of Cooper Square, said: “I’m proud that we are developing this urgently needed housing for homeless LGBT youth in partnership with the Ali Forney Center, and I’m looking forward to moving this project to a successful completion.”

The Cooper Square Committee is an affordable housing preservation and tenant rights organization that has sponsored over 550 low income apartments, including dozens of homeless housing units. The Ali Forney Center ( AFC ) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youths, AFC is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs for housing and support can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together. AFC is also dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.

“We approached the Ali Forney Center several years ago and proposed that we partner to develop this vacant city-owned building as housing for homeless LGBT youth, and they agreed.  We’re thankful that the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development liked the project idea and worked with us to make this pioneering project a reality”, said Steve Herrick, Executive Director of the Cooper Square Committee. The development team for the project includes the architectural firm, Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP), the Lawyers Alliance of New York which formed the Bea Arthur Residence HDFC and handled the closing, which took place on June 30th.

Builders-R-Us Construction Corp., a minority business enterprise, will serve as the general contractor to carry out the gut renovation.  MAP’s design involves building an addition in the rear to add over 1,100 sq. ft. of space, allowing for the creation of three 3-bedroom apartments, each of which will house 6 residents.  The basement will house the Ali Forney Center’s staff to provide services to the residents.  The enlarged, 6,000 sq. ft. building is being developed in accordance with Green Communities standards, to maximize energy efficiency.  It will contain engineered bamboo flooring, and other green design elements. The Bea Arthur Residence HDFC is being assisted in developing this green building by the Association for Energy Affordability and the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation.

The Bea Arthur Residence will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and will include an automatic wheelchair lift to the building entrance in the basement.  It will have a limited use elevator from the basement to the first floor so that one third of the units will be accessible.  Each 3 bedroom apartment will be at least 1,150 sq. ft. with a full kitchen, 2 bathrooms, and a spacious living room.  There will be a laundry room in the basement for residents, and storage space in the sub cellar.  “We’re really excited about the redesign of this historic building”, said Carl Siciliano.  “It will create a warm, home-like environment for our residents rather than an institutional one”.

The project sponsors aim to raise some additional funds to complete the landscaping plan designed by Terrain NYC, install signage naming the building after Bea Arthur, and to cover some soft costs.  “Due to escalating construction costs in NYC, we had to scale back some elements of our architect’s design for the building,” said Mr. Herrick.  Another $75,000 will help us realize our vision for this pioneering project”.

We got a rent freeze!

In a historic decision, the Rent Guidelines Board voted for a rent freeze for one-year leases and a two percent increase for two-year leases. This is the first time in the RGB’s 46 year history rent-stabilized rents have been frozen. New York City has faced unreasonably high rent increases for far too long, but yesterday, tenants conquered. After the huge disappointment in Albany, we proved we are not powerless — we still have control over what happens to the tenants in our city.

For rent-stabilized leases which begin 10/1/2015 through 9/30/2016: 0% for 1 yr, 2% for 2 yr leases. (If your lease renews before 10/1/2015, the previous percentages are in effect: 1% for 1 yr, 2.75% for 2 yrs.) Read More

East Village Tenants to ICON Realty: We’ve Gone Months Without Heat, Gas in Building—Enough is Enough!

Press conference Thurs 6/18 at
Manhattan Housing Court, 111 Centre St

Click here for press release PDF.

 Click here for media advisory PDF.

Rent Laws expired — your rights and what you can do

Your rights:

No matter what happens this week, you are protected until the end of your lease. Our colleague Ilana Maier at the Metropolitan Council on Housing says in today’s New York Times that “The fear is not that tenants will immediately lose their legal rights,” she said. “They won’t. The danger is that landlords will take advantage of the confusion and anxiety around the expiration of the rent laws to further harass rent-regulated tenants.”

For more information about your rights in case of expiration, see the Public Advocate’s information sheet here: http://bit.ly/rentlawsrights

CALL GOVERNOR CUOMO TODAY

Only days after thousands of tenants took over Albany on Tuesday for stronger rent laws, and after seven activists were arrested Thursday morning while blocking the entrance to Governor Cuomo’s NYC office, Andrew Cuomo is back to playing games. A week ago he called for stronger rent laws and an end to deregulation. Now he says the best he can do is renew them in their current weakened form. A straight extender of the rent laws as is would be a disaster, resulting in a steady loss every year of rent-protected apartments in NYC and the three suburban counties, and an ultimate end of the program.

Tell Governor Cuomo: Tenants Are Watching & We Will Remember.
CALL:  (518) 474-8390, press 3

Sample Script for Gov:  “Hello, my name is ____________ and I’m a tenant.  I’m calling to tell the Governor to strengthen the rent laws & end deregulation.  Renewing the rent laws is not enough – the Gov. must strengthen the rent laws & end deregulation. If he does not do this I will never vote for him again.”

The more calls he gets on this issue the better! Get your friends and neighbors to call!

If you have any questions, you can contact the Cooper Square Committee
at (212) 228-8210 or csc@coopersquare.org.

 

Are you being overcharged? Get your Rent History!

Especially when there is uncertainty as to RS status, both you and all of your neighbors should get your “Rent History” from DHCR. Every building that IS or ever WAS RS has one, aside from exceedingly rare instances where the landlord never reported anything. This will help us determine whether or not your apartment should be RS, and if so, the approximate legal rent. It’s not entirely self-explanatory; we can help you interpret it.
On your own, you can review the history: Landlords typically won’t file apartment rent history after it goes market-rate. So if your apartment’s history suddenly stops and the apartment’s rent was UNDER $2,700 before that time (or whatever the de-regulation limit was at that time), there is a could chance your apartment should not have been de-stabilized. De-regulation limits are $2,700 on or after June 15, 2015, $2,500 on or after June 24, 2011 or $2,000 before June 24, 2011. Remember, even if you pay a relatively high rent, rent-stabilization offers a host of other protections, including a limit on how much your rent can be raised every year, and the requirement for your landlord to offer you a lease renewal!

We are very happy to help you interpret the Rent History and sort out the legality of your rent, If you would like assistance, gather these docs: (a) above mentioned Rent History, (b) last 4 leases + any proposed lease renewal that one hasn’t sent back to the LL yet, and (c) Our intake form, and call or email us to set up an appointment.

For Immediate Release – Manhattan Tenants File 3 More Lawsuits Against Landlord Samy Mahfar

Pictures from our Mon 4/20 Press Conference @ 61 E 4th St

mahfar-pc2015-04-pr

Press release here: http://bit.ly/mahfar3

Samy Mahfar’s tenants at 102 Norfolk, 210 RIvington, and 22 Spring file harassment suit against him today, and demand proper lead mitigation and upholding of rent stabilized tenants’ rights.

In collaboration with the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center, Caaav: Organizing Asian Communities, NYLPI, the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition and Stabilizing NYC, and elected officials Margaret Chin, Rosie Méndez, Daniel Squadron, and Gale A. Brewer

UPDATE RE: 2ND AVENUE AND 7TH STREET BUILDING COLLAPSES

Updated April 9, 2015

 

Legal Clinic for Tenants/Families of All Affected Buildings
Monday, April 20, 2015, 7 PM @ 59-61 E 4th St, 4th Floor

Attorneys and housing advocates will be present to inform tenants of their housing and personal property damage rights. No appointment is necessary. Tenants, relatives and their friends are welcomed to this meeting.

Sponsored by GOLES and CSC

It’s been 2 weeks since the tragic explosion at Sushi Park at 121 2nd Avenue caused a fire that resulted in the collapse of 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue.  We join in mourning the death of two young men, and the injuries sustained by many others.

15 households in the collapsed buildings lost their homes. Multiple buildings had vacated orders in the immediate aftermath, affecting over 180 households and temporarily closing two dozen businesses.  Two buildings, 125 Second Avenue (26 residential units and 2 stores) and 41-43 East 7th Street (22 residential units) still have vacate orders in effect.

The NYC Dept. of Buildings stated at a public meeting on April 2nd that they think the vacate can be lifted on the residential units in 2 to 3 weeks once windows on the east side of the building and broken doors are replaced.   125 Second Avenue has more damage, and repairs are likely to take 4 to 6 weeks before the vacate order can be lifted on most of the units.  4 apartments on the top 2 floors had fire damage and repairs are likely to take several months.

The City’s Resident Service Center is now located at 59 East 4th Street in the Community Board 3 office, which will remain in operation til the end of this week.  Multiple agencies, including the NYC Office of Emergency Management, the American Red Cross, NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development, the Human Resources Administration, Con Edison, the ASPCA and Lower East Side Ready have worked to staff it over the past two weeks.

As a member of Lower East Side Ready, the Cooper Square Committee (CSC) partnered with GOLES to co-sponsor a legal clinic on March 30th for displaced tenants, inviting attorneys from MFY Legal Services and the Urban Justice Center as well as a couple of private attorneys to advise tenants about how they can secure their right to return, expedite repairs and obtain compensation for damages.

Follow up meetings with affected buildings are planned. Given that a criminal investigation is underway, criminal and civil cases are likely to be a lengthy process.

CSC and the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association (MHA) have begun to interview several of the tenants whose homes were destroyed to arrange placing them in temporary housing in MHA apartments.  Other housing providers have also offered assistance. We will continue to work with our local elected officials, government agencies and non-profit partners to assist affected residents and businesses in any way we can to help them recover from this disaster.  If you wish to offer financial support to those affected, you may donate to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC (link below).

~Steve Herrick, Executive Director

Pathways to Affordable Housing Series

Click here for more info on all events and to RSVP!

Tenants’ Rights I
Workshop
Mar 24, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY – 6 East 3rd Street

Applying for Affordable Housing: Step by Step
Seminar
Apr 13, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY

Campaign to Strengthen and Renew Rent Stabilization Laws
Workshop
Apr 21, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY

Tenants’ Rights II
Workshop
May 19, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY

Part of the Pathways to Affordable Housing series, in collaboration with The Actors FundFABNYCNocd-NY, and NYC To Be Determined.

Office of Rent Administration – online application form to file rent reduction applications based on a decrease of services

The Office of Rent Administration (ORA) has just released an expanded and improved online application form for tenants who want to file rent reduction applications based on a decrease of services in their apartment:

https://www1.dhcr.state.ny.us/ServicesIntake/BuildingSelect.aspx

Tenant can still file applications on paper:

 

  • Tenants who want to report a rent reduction based upon decreased services in their apartment RA-81.
  • Tenants who want to report a building-wide decrease in services outside of their apartment may use form RA-84.

 

We hope you and your constituents will take advantage of this improved application.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Woody Pascal
Deputy Commissioner
Office of Rent Administration
NYS Homes & Community Renewal

The Cooper Square Committee’s Organizing Work & Accomplishments in 2014

Our organizing team was so busy in 2014. We accomplished a ton in this past year… read on about all the ways we’ve been stopping displacement and building community!!

Download the PDF version of this Roundup!Click here to download the PDF version of this Roundup! 

Major Organizing Efforts and Coalitions

  • Through partnering with St. Nick’s alliance and the Urban Justice Center (UJC), Cooper Square Committee (CSC) created a much-needed campaign to reform the Department of Buildings (DOB) in 2014. For well over a year preceding this we had been working with community members to organize and draw attention to the problem of “construction as harassment.” In 2014 we were able to further connect with some of our most steadfast allies (close to 20 organizations) throughout the City to formalize a campaign to reform DOB and work on ending “construction as harassment.” The work we did last year is leading us to a pivotal year in 2015 where we will be looking to create new laws to better support tenants who are dealing with landlords who use the guise of construction to harass.
  • Click on any photo to enlarge. All photos on this page taken by CSC unless otherwise noted.

 

  • CSC’s organizing department was a lead community-group partner with the NYS Attorney General’s (AG) office in their investigation of the “tenant relocator” Michel Pimienta. The organizing we did and information we provided helped the AG wage a precedent-setting investigation which led to the shuttering of Michel’s operations.  UJC and CAAAV were also partners in this effort.

 

  • Photo credit: Zach Williams for The Villager

    Press conference at Mahfar building, 210 Rivington. Photo credit: Zach Williams for The Villager

    Led the organizing to help form the Mahfar Tenants Coalition. Both UJC and CAAAV are also involved with the amazing work happening here. This coalition, which includes half a dozen Samy Mahfar (SMA Equities) owned buildings, is fiercely pushing back against this landlord’s attempt to vacate and renovate Lower East Side (LES) buildings en masse. In 2014 the tenants from these buildings called Mahfar to the table, used city agencies and local politicians to step up enforcement in their buildings, and held a powerful press conference in December 2014 after lead contamination was verified to have occurred in their buildings.  The tenants of the Mahfar Tenants Coalition have proven to be some of the strongest fighters we’ve seen in 2014! Read More

CSC closed early Mon, all day Tues

Tuesday 1/26/2015

Due to the storm, Cooper Square Committee will close at 3pm today (Monday), and will be closed all day on Tuesday. We plan to open at 10am on Wednesday.

The tenant clinic of the Metropolitan Council on Housing WILL NOT meet on Tuesday.

FABnyc is also closed on Tuesday.

Travel safely!

Cerramos a las 3pm hoy (lunes), y todo el día el martes. Esperamos abrir a las 10am el miércoles.
¡Viaje con ciudado!

CSC Holiday Schedule

Our office will close at 3pm on Wednesday, December 24th, and be closed on 12/25 and 12/26.
We will be open 12/29 and 12/30 on an appointment-only basis (please call or email first), and then closed 12/31 through 1/2.
Also, the Met Council on Housing’s weekly clinic WILL NOT meet on the night of Tues 12/30. They WILL meet on Tues 1/6.

We reopen with normal hours on Monday, January 5, 2015.
We wish you a restorative holiday! ~CSC Staff

MAHFAR TENANTS COALITION DEMANDS PROPER MITIGATION OF LEAD DURING CONSTRUCTION

PETITION: Stand with Mahfar Tenants Coalition: Demand Safe, Lead-Free Homes!
YOUTUBE: Rosie Mendez calls out Mahfar agent

PRESS RELEASE BELOW:

For Immediate Release
DECEMBER 10, 2014
PDF Link here (bit.ly/mahfar210)
Contact:           Brandon Kielbasa
(212) 228-8210    bkielbasa@coopersquare.org

MAHFAR TENANTS COALITION DEMANDS PROPER MITIGATION OF LEAD DURING CONSTRUCTION

Tenants find high lead concentrations in their buildings and speak out against the unsafe construction practices used by LES landlord Samy Mahfar.

WHAT: Press Conference / WHERE: 210 Rivington St. / WHEN: 12:30pm – 1:30pm

mahfar210 Press Conference Banner sm

8-foot banner displayed at press conference – Click to enlarge

Read More

PRESS RELEASE: Lower East Side tenants of Samy Mahfar owned buildings applaud AG investigation into notorious Tenant Relocator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 29, 2014

Click here for PDF download

CONTACT:   Brandon Kielbasa

Lead Organizer, Cooper Square Committee

(212) 228-8210, ext 4 – bkielbasa@coopersquare.org

Lower East Side tenants of Samy Mahfar owned buildings applaud AG investigation into notorious Tenant Relocator

Tenants speak out against the extensive use of tenant relocator by LES landlord Samy Mahfar.

October 29, New York — Lower East Side tenants of 102 Norfolk St., 210 Rivington St., 22 Spring St., 143 Ludlow St., and 113 Stanton St. applaud the Attorney General’s investigation into “tenant relocator” Michel Pimienta. On Monday, October 27, 2014, AG Eric Schneiderman reached an agreement censuring his relocation efforts. The agreement requires Pimienta to cease all relocation efforts with his company, Misidor LLC, pay a $40,000 fine, and acquire a real estate broker’s license.

This is a huge victory for tenants familiar with Pimienta’s efforts to push out rent-stabilized tenants so their units could be converted into luxury units. The common denominator between these tenants and Pimienta is LES landlord Samy Mahfar, who employed Pimienta extensively in the buildings he owns.

In addition to employing this unlicensed “tenant relocator” known to use unscrupulous tactics, Mahfar has recently caught the watchful eye of numerous elected officials for demolition work at 102 Norfolk St., exposing tenants there to jaw-dropping levels of toxic lead.  Security staff preventing building access to City inspectors and collapsed ceilings in apartments are just a few of the extreme quality-of-life issues that have become commonplace in Mahfar-owned buildings during construction.

“Prior to the demolition work that began in our building, Michel Pimienta approached me on one of two occasions claiming to be a representative of the City of New York looking to update tenant records.  He misrepresented himself to me in order to obtain sensitive information from me and other tenants.  His actions were misleading, inappropriate, and invasive once we learned how he used this simple informational request obtained from other tenants against them,” said a tenant from 102 Norfolk Street who wished to remain anonymous.

Translated quote from Mr. Lam, Kwan Tai from 22 Spring St. Tenant Association, “This is great news. We welcome the Attorney General’s success with making Michel Pimienta pay a fine and give up his ‘relocation’ business. Being that he is no longer in business to harass us is good for tenants everywhere. People like Pimienta are only working for the profit of the landlord.”

“Affordability continues to be one of the Lower East Side’s greatest challenges — unscrupulous ‘tenant relocators’ are a shameful and illegal part of the affordability picture,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “I thank Attorney General Schneiderman for pursuing this investigation, and commend the tenants and the Cooper Square Committee for confronting these unacceptable tactics. I look forward to continuing to work with tenants, advocates, and my elected colleagues to put an end to the pattern of tenant harassment.”

“The fact that Samy Mahfar actually celebrated his use of Michel Pimienta’s ‘invaluable’ relocation services just goes to show why we’re taking action to protect the tenants of 102 Norfolk Street and Mr. Mahfar’s other Lower East Side buildings,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s successful effort to put Mr. Pimienta out of business, and I will continue to work with my elected colleagues, Cooper Square Committee and CAAAV to stop Mr. Mahfar from further endangering the welfare of his tenants.”

The following is a quote from Samy Mahfar on Misidor’s recently-taken-offline website endorsing Pimienta and his success in removing rent-regulated tenants from their homes:

 

Samy Mahfar,
SMA Equities
It is a pleasure to work with Mr. Pimienta and his company. The experience that his company has brought to our firm has helped us re-position our properties more than we anticipated, and his insight and intuition have been instrumental in our success. Mr. Pimienta is trustworthy and honest, and we have always had a positive experience working with him. I highly recommend his services to people I know in the industry.”Source:
« http://web.archive.org/web/20131020175100/http://misidor.com/index.php?p=view_misidor_testimonial »

Quote from the Cooper Square Committee, “Samy Mahfar – who, as far as we know, hired and utilized the services of Michel Pimienta more than any other landlord in the Lower East Side – willingly subjected his tenants to Pimienta’s deceitful and unscrupulous practices, all in the name of maximizing his profits.”

 

Quote from CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, “We thank Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for working with us to protect tenants from Michel Pimienta. CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities has been working with Chinatown tenants who live in fear because Pimienta and his Chinese-speaking colleague incessantly call and knock on their doors to drive them out of their homes. Predatory landlords such as SMA Equities and Silvershore Properties hire these ‘tenant relocators’ and have contributed to the loss of thousands of rent-stabilized units. We will continue working with tenants, Cooper Square Committee, and the Attorney General to challenge these landlords in their aggressive harassment and displacement of low-income tenants so that we can protect our critical affordable housing stock.”

The Attorney General’s investigation into Michel Pimienta sends a clear message that tenant relocators who harass tenants will be held accountable. The tenants of Mahfar-owned buildings are sending the message that landlords who hire these relocators will also be held accountable.

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Tenants of Kushner building at 170-174 E 2nd St speak out about enduring run-amok construction

Media Advisory (DOC file) | Press release (PDF file)

Press:

Village Voicehttp://bit.ly/1qcYLHc
DNAinfo: http://dnain.fo/1rTZ15d
Bedford & Boweryhttp://bit.ly/1s5Jop6

3rd Avenue Festival – 2014

3 av 2014

Visit our table at 10th Street, for info about tenant rights and other events and campaigns in the area, CSC-branded t-shirts and bags, and you can buy a spin on our prize wheel!

All vendor spots have already been sold. If you are a vendor, volunteer, or musician, you have been emailed any relevant information. If you would like to volunteer and have not signed up already, or if there are any issues, email Daniel at danielw@coopersquare.org or visit our table.

2014 RGB Vote

1% and 2.75%

More details here.

Despite a massive turnout of tenants at last night’s Rent Guidelines Board vote, and calls for a rent freeze, the RGB voted for a 1% increase on one-year leases, and 2.75% for two-year leases. While it’s disappointing that the RGB didn’t vote for a rent freeze, the 1% increase for a one-year lease is the lowest ever in the 45 year history of the RGB. The tenants’ movement can take credit for making that happen. Now let’s focus on strengthening the NY State rent laws when they come up for renewal in June of next year. Let’s stay mobilized!

~ Steve Herrick, Executive Director

MHA co-op application process

Dear affordable housing seeker,
The Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association (MHA) is no longer accepting requests for applications. We (CSC) are a separate organization from the MHA. We do not own or manage any housing, and we can not provide any input on the progress of your application. If you have any questions about the process, please contact the MHA at 212-477-5340, www.csmha.org, or csmha59@gmail.com. For more affordable housing opportunities throughout NYC, click here.

Cooper Square Committee’s Transitional Homeless Housing Plan for LGBT Youth Moving Forward

The NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is expected to file the Urban Development Action Area Plan for the Bea Arthur Residence at 222 E. 13th St. with the City Council in the coming weeks. The City Council must pass a resolution designating the project a UDAAP, and authorizing a long term tax exemption, which is a formality since local Councilmember Rosie Mendez is a strong supporter of the project and helped secure $3.3 million for its development. The Cooper Square Committee (CSC) is partnering with the Ali Forney Center (AFC) to renovate a vacant building at 222 E. 13th St. to house 18 homeless LGBT youth ages 18-24. CSC has done the bulk of the pre-development work, and will oversee the renovation, and AFC will rent up and manage the building when it’s completed. Project architects, Magnusson Architecture and Planning are expected to file the approved building plans with the NYC Dept. of Buildings within the next week. “We are hoping to acquire the building by the end of May, and start renovation immediately after that” says CSC Executive Director, Steve Herrick.