Author Archives: Steven Herrick

2017 Success Stories and Fundraising Appeal

Dear Friends of Cooper Square,

As a supporter of affordable housing and neighborhood preservation, you’ve helped make the Cooper Square Committee (CSC) a vital force in our community.  In 2017 we’ve had some tremendous successes:

COMBATTING PREDATORY LANDLORDS:  CSC worked with Urban Justice Center and St. Nicks Alliance to lead a citywide campaign, Stand for Tenant Safety, to compel the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB ) to confront disruptive renovation in occupied buildings, known as “Construction as Harassment”.  Working with citywide housing groups and local elected officials, the City Council passed 12 bills to strengthen tenant protections, increase fines on bad acting landlords, and create a “Real Time Enforcement Unit” at DOB. (Photo of Mayor deBlassio signing the legislation)

 

Based on advocacy by the Stop Croman Coalition, Cooper Square Committee and Good Old Lower East Side, the NYS Attorney General investigated several local landlords, resulting in the felony indictment of the notorious Steve Croman and his being sentenced to one year in prison.  Our organizing work with the Toledano Tenants Coalition focussed media attention on him and the lenders that enabled him to acquire and mismanage over 30 buildings, resulting in his filing for bankruptcy and foreclosure on most of his housing portfolio.

BUILDING HOUSING FOR HOMELESS LGBTQ YOUTH:: CSC managed the construction of the Bea Arthur Residence for 18 homeless LGBTQ youth.   Construction is complete and residents should be moving in sometime in January, 2018. 

GREENER AND MORE RESILIENT HOMES:  We enrolled 6 low income buildings in various weatherization and resiliency technical assistance programs to make them more energy efficient and prepared for climate change, and have initiated a series of resiliency workshops for low income cooperatives (HDFC’s) to help them minimize flooding during a natural disaster.  We have assisted the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association in applying for a  Green Housing Preservation Loan in order to install solar panels on the roofs of 5 buildings on East 4th Street. 

CREATING A NEIGHBORHOOD NORC

The CSC area was designated a Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (N-NORC) 2 years ago.  We are building up this program, holding ongoing senior programming at 2 JASA senior housing sites.  Our workshops covering health, legal and financial topics promote health aging so that seniors can age in place.

 YOUR DONATIONS HELP US TO:

STOP PREDATORY LANDLORDS FROM DISPLACING TENANTS: To assure that the Department of Buildings enforces the new laws protecting tenants’ ’rights, we will hold community wide informational workshops about the law and train tenants to monitor enforcement. A donation of $25 will help us create educational material about the package of new tenant protection laws.

KEEP FAMILIES SAFE AND WARM:  We will continue working with low income cooperatives, (HDFC’s), replacing old boilers and drafty windows. The environment as a whole benefits from this reduction of the carbon footprint. A donation of $75 will provide door sweeps and weather stripping for all the windows in two apartments.  

PROVIDE SHELTER FOR HOMELESS LGBTQ YOUTH :  Up to 40% of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and they face a higher risk of violence and exploitation while homeless. CSC has started pre-development work on another residence for homeless LGBTQ youth in Astoria, Queens. A donation of $100 will help cover a portion of staff time working on this project.

HELP SENIORS AGE IN PLACE:  We are working  to develop a stronger support system for seniors so that they can live independently in our community. A donation of $50 will help us connect a local senior to a home health aide and Meals on Wheels so they can remain in their home.

Please invest in building a healthier, safer and more inclusive Lower East Side/East Village Community. OUR BOARD WILL MATCH THE FIRST $2,500 IN DONATIONS. We accept checks, cash, money orders or you can donate at www.coopersquare.org/donate. Thank you from the entire Steering Committee and staff for supporting our work.

Yours truly,

Steve Herrick , Executive Director

Housing Lottery for Essex Crossing is Open

AFFORDABLE HOUSING LOTTERY AT ESSEX CROSSING IS NOW OPEN!!! 

104 APARTMENTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR HOUSEHOLDS
STARTING AT MINIMUM INCOMES OF $19,680
THE DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS IS TUESDAY, MAY 2ND

YOU CAN ASK FOR AN APPLICATION BY SENDING A SELF ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE TO:
Essex Crossing Site 5
Triborough Finance New Station
PO Box 2011
New York, NY 10035-9997

YOU CAN ALSO GO TO THE CITY’S WEBSITE AND APPLY ONLINE AT
https://a806-housingconnect.nyc.gov/nyclottery/lottery.html#current-projects

DO YOU NEED HELP APPLYING ONLINE? COOPER SQUARE COMMITTEE
WILL ASSIST PEOPLE BY APPOINTMENT WITH APPLYING AT OUR OFFICE.

DATES:
THURSDAY, MARCH 23RD FROM 6 – 8 PM
AND
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12TH FROM 6 – 8 PM
LOCATION: 61 EAST 4TH STREET, 1ST FLOOR
YOU MUST REGISTER IN ADVANCE BY CALLING 212-228-8210

YOU WILL BE GIVEN A TIME SLOT, AND WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO HELP YOU FILL OUT
THE APPLICATION IN 30 MINUTES. WE WILL HAVE LAPTOPS AVAILABLE AND HELP
YOU LOG IN AND FILL OUT THE APPLICATION AND SUBMIT IT.

WE ARE ACCEPTING 16 PEOPLE FOR THE MARCH 23RD, AND 16 PEOPLE FOR THE APRIL 12TH SESSION. IF YOU RSVPAND DON’T SHOW UP, WE WILL NOT RESCHEDULE YOU.

We’ve gotten a lot of press about the Bea Arthur Residence Project

Our work managing the renovation of the Bea Arthur Residence, which will provide transitional housing for 18 homeless LGBT youth, is generating a lot of press for us and our project partner, the Ali Forney Center.  A DNAInfo article that gave an update on the project, and its expected completion in February, 2017, has been shared by a number of media outlets, including Broadway World article and World of Wonder.

Bea Arthur Residence: Project Description

Here are images of work in progress on the Bea Arthur Residence for homeless LGBT youth, as of May 5th, 2016:

Facade - fire escapes and windows removed The facade of the Bea Arthur Residence, the old fire escapes and windows have been removed
Top Floor - 4-25-2016 View of the top floor, new floor joists have been installed
Upper floor - April 25-2016 View of the 2nd floor, new floor joists have been installed
Rear extension - footings The footings for the rear extension have been poured. Once the concrete slab is poured, the rear masonry wall will be built
Elevator Pit The elevator pit has been excavated and the concrete poured
Trench -4-25-2016 A trench has been dug in the cellar to install plumbing and ventilation systems

The Cooper Square Committee, a housing preservation organization, and the Ali Forney Center, an organization that serves homeless LGBT youth, have partnered to acquire and renovate 222 East 13th Street in order to provide quality, safe, transitional housing for homeless LGBT teenagers and young adults, ages 18 – 24. The building is known as the Bea Arthur Residence.

222e13-before-after

There are an estimated 4,000 homeless teenagers in NYC. According to a 2008 Census survey, up to 40% (1,600 homeless teenagers) are LGBTQ. As LGBT youth come out earlier, unfortunately some of them face rejection by their parents and are forced out onto the streets. These otherwise high functioning young people are placed at risk. They need a safe environment, which this housing will provide, so that they can prepare for adulthood.

Cooper Square Committee and the Ali Forney Center formed the Bea Arthur Residence Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) as part of the solution to this crisis. We obtained a $3.3 million capital grant from the New York City Council and the Borough President in Fiscal Year 2013, and $40,000 in gap financing from private sources.

We hired architectural firm, Magnusson Architecture and Planning to design 222 East 13th Street as a 3 unit building with 3 bedroom apartments to house 18 homeless LGBT youth. This 4 story building is getting an addition in the rear, enlarging it from 4,900 sq. ft. to over 6,000 sq. ft.

Cooper Square Committee is serving as project manager from the pre-development stage through completion of the renovation of the building, right up to obtaining a permanent certificate of occupancy. Upon completion, the Ali Forney Center will handle rent up of the 18 beds and providing the on site supportive housing services to the residents. The Ali Forney Center will occupy the ground floor space.

On June 30, 2015, the Bea Arthur Residence HDFC acquired 222 East 13th Street from the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Renovation began on September 8th, 2015. After work started, we experienced a 6-week Stop Work Order in late October because the Dept. of Buildings found that the chain link fence in front of the building that had been installed by the City in the year 2000 was done without a permit. We resumed in early December, 2015.

The renovation, which will be carried out by our general contractor, Builders-R-Us Construction Corporation, will restore this historic building, which dates from 1851, and provide a safe home for 18 homeless LGBT youth so that they can live free of stigma and make plans for their future.

If you wish to make a donation in support of this project, you can make a check payable to “The Bea Arthur Residence HDFC” and mail it to c/o Cooper Square Committee, 61 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. This project is on a tight budget, and we need to raise another $35,000 to deal with increased soft costs during construction, including special inspection fees and a new City requirement that we file a fire safety and evacuation plan.

We’ve received a grant from the Red Cross to do post-Sandy recovery work

We’re happy to announce that the American Red Cross has awarded the Cooper Square Committee $150,000 to assist Lower East Side residents who were impacted by Superstorm Sandy, and to prepare vulnerable populations for future storms.  Check out the American Red Cross Press release for more details about the work we will be doing over the next 17 months.

Red Cross Press Release – Oct 2013

 

NYCHA Tenants Fight Infill Luxury Housing Plan

Cooper Square Committee members and staff joined hundreds of tenants who turned out for a rally and public hearing held by the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) on July 24th at Pace University to protest NYCHA plans to lease 18 parcels of land at eight Manhattan housing projects for luxury housing. 8 parcels at five Lower East Side projects are part of the plan – at Smith Houses, Baruch Houses, Laguardia Houses, Campos Plaza and Meltzer Tower. 

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Membership Meeting, Wednesday, April 24th

Join us at our membership meeting on Wednesday, April 24th at 6:30 pm at JASA (200 E. 5th St.).  We will be giving a powerpoint presentation about NYCHA’s plans to lease land to developers at 5 Lower East Side projects (Smith Houses, Baruch Houses, Meltzer Tower, LaGuardia Houses, and Campos Plaza).  The plan will create 2,026 mostly luxury apartments (80/20).  Come find out about their plans, how it will impact our community, and discuss what we can do to support NYCHA residents who are fighting it.