News and Events

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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”.

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.

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

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.

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!

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.

###

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.

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.

Guaranteed Inclusionary Zoning Policy would create more affordable housing!

High rises in Greenpoint, where fewer affordable apartments were created than had been projected. Matthew Schuerman, for WNYC

Have you been following the great work that ANHD and City Councilmember Brad Lander have been doing around Guaranteed Inclusionary Zoning? Let’s insist that our electeds adopt this affordable housing policy! See below for press coverage:

WNYC: Report: Bloomberg Housing Policy Falls Short

PIX11: ANHD’s Barika Williams discusses proposal for seperate entrances for rich and poor tenants in luxury UWS condo

NYT: Report Finds a City Incentive Is Not Producing Enough Affordable Housing

Our Annual 3rd Avenue Festival is tomorrow!

2013 flyer

  • Shopping (including artisans from the MHA buildings!)
  • Food
  • Live Music (The Rod Rodgers Dance Company, Kim Kalesti, Bill Popp & the Tapes, Más Allá, The Fine Machines, and The JewelTones)
  • And we will have a table at 11th St, with information on tenants rights, Save the Lower East Side and CSC T-Shirts, and more.

Join us!!

Questions, call 212-228-8210 or email Steve.

Year End Highlights and Donor Appeal

As 2012 comes to a close, our community is still hurting in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  The Cooper Square Committee’s office did not suffer any damage from the storm but we were without power for a week, and saw our work load quickly become backlogged upon returning.  Those needing assistance included people impacted by the storm, as well as the many low income tenants who seek our help in the normal course of events.  During the past couple of weeks, we have been working with our project partner, the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association (MHA), and with other agencies including FEMA, to assist people displaced by the storm.  We’ve been contacted by more than 20 people who have been displaced from their homes by the storm, and we are interviewing many of them with the aim of placing at least 8 of them in temporary housing owned by the MHA as soon as possible.

Read More

Our Annual 3rd Avenue Festival

See flyer


Tomorrow!

Sat June 16th, 11am-6pm
3rd Av from 6th – 14th Sts

(CSC table @ 11th St)


10 VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FROM 4-6PM TOMORROW (Saturday)!

Call us this morning (Friday) at 212-228-8210.
Volunteers get a free T-shirt!

We will need some help breaking down a few tables and chairs and packing up our material (t-shirts, flyers, fact sheets). It’s light work, but we need some extra hands.

Food, shopping, tenant rights info at CSC table, and live music from 1-5pm (St Marks Ensemble, Kate Vargas, Filthy Rotten System, Marcel Van Dam et Paul, Dan Piccoli Trio, Michelle Fury Band, JewelTones)

Sponsored by CSC and Clearview Festival Productions. More info: 212-228-8210.

STOP MASS EVICTION PLAN – may 7th

PRESS CONFERENCE AND RALLY

 

17 MARKET RATE TENANTS AT 50-54-58 EAST 3RD STREET HAVE RECEIVED NOTICES FROM THEIR LANDLORD, ABART HOLDING LLC, THAT STATE THEIR LEASES WILL NOT BE RENEWED. THESE TENANTS ARE WORKING PEOPLE WHO ARE SHARING APARTMENTS TO BE ABLE TO AFFORD THE RENTS. ACROSS THE STREET THREE YEARS AGO A LANDLORD EVICTED THE WHOLE BUILDING FOR HIS PERSONAL USE!

DATE: MONDAY, MAY 7TH 2012

TIME: 6:30 PM

PLACE: 58 EAST 3RD STREET (BTW 1ST AND 2ND AVENUE)

Facebook Event here

STOP THE EVICTIONS-SUPPORT THE TENANTS AS THEY FIGHT BACK!

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL GOLES 212-533-2541 or COOPER SQUARE COMMITTEE 212-228-8210

Info Session: HUD Budget Cuts in Fiscal Year 2013

Come learn about the proposed cuts to HUD funding and how you can help protect the long-term affordability of your development.

Conducted by Tenants and Neighbors

For more information or to RSVP: Contact Katie Goldstein: 212-608-4320,ext 400 / kgoldstein@tandn.org

Where & When

Community Service Society, 105 E 22nd St (@ Park Ave.), Room 4A

Weds Apr 11, 2012, 6:30-8:30PM

Bowery Walking Tour – Sat 3/3, 1:30pm

What do. . .

Native Americans                    George Washington                     John Jacob Astor

Federal-style architecture           tap dance                  Stephen Foster              gangs of New York

streetcars          Kleindeutschland                      Peter Cooper                        

vaudeville                                    the vaudeville hook                                 Yiddish theater

Stephen Crane                               American slang                            Stanford White

Irving Berlin                                    Eddie Cantor                                      Mae West

Abstract Expressionism               Mark Rothko                                    Weegee

Beat literature                              William S. Burroughs                              Amiri Baraka

punk rock                                    the Ramones                                    Patti Smith

. . .all have in common?

Find out on the. . . Walking Tour of the Bowery

w/Architectural Historian Kerri Culhane

March 3, 2012 @ 1:30pm

Meet at Cooper Union Foundation Building

(at 7th Street)

Free!

Originally an Indian foot trail, Bowery is NYC’s oldest thoroughfare.

It was recently named to NY State Register of Historic Places.

The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Historic Districts Council are sponsoring a walking tour of the Bowery in conjunction with the Historic Districts Council’s “The Great Outside: Preserving Public and Private Open Spaces”Conference. All are welcome on the tour, which is free of charge!

Mary Spink: In Memoriam

On Sunday, January 15th, Mary Spink, who had been battling a failing liver and kidneys, died at Beth Israel Hospital. She was Executive Director of Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association, an organization that renovated and built affordable housing in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Read More