We should reopen on Friday 1/5. Stay safe and warm everyone!
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.
Steve Herrick , Executive Director
- The Maria Fund, mariafund.org
Donations go through the Center for Popular Democracy and communities on-the-ground decide how to distribute the money and what to spend it on.
- GOLES is collecting donations of physical objects (canned food, diapers, sanitary napkins, clothing) and these are sent to various locations in PR via the post offices. 171 Ave B, 212-533-2541, contact: Ceci Pineda
- Resilient Power Puerto Rico is an initiative aimed at immediate-term and long-term recovery in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Your donation will fund the purchase and delivery of high-efficiency solar panels, inverters, wiring equipment and battery backups; installation by local citizens; and on-the-job-training by our electrical engineers, solar technicians and alternative energy experts. Given that over 80% of Puerto Rico is without electricity more than 2 weeks after the storm, impacting homes, stores, hospital and many essential services, this is the most critical component of recovery.
- Uprose is an environmental justice organization working closely with several community based organizations doing disaster recovery work in Puerto Rico. You can donate to Uprose, and they will in turn donate the funds to groups such as WhyHunger, Güakiá Colectivo Agroecológico, La Corporación Piñones Se Integra (COPI), and Proyecto Agroecológico El Josco Bravo. Add the memo Por Nuestra Gente: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=rySDFRHd-MboDccF5qIF1yj5hoiXKATWwleQSe_zyDrKZDu4mBMHwOMvLm62NQF8vZJl8m&country.x=US&locale.x=US
WHERE: East 7th Street between Cooper Square & 2nd Avenue
WHEN: Saturday, September 16, 2017 from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
A Culinary Festival to benefit The Cooper Square Committee
The Taste of East Village is an outdoor culinary festival on East 7th Street, between Cooper Square and 2nd Avenue, benefiting the Cooper Square Committee’s affordable housing preservation and development work (including the soon to open Bea Arthur Residence for homeless LGBT youth), our environmental greening work, social services, and senior programming. We feature dishes from more than 15 of the East Village’s best restaurants and eateries (see the list below). Come celebrate our amazing East Village and Lower East Side community! Read More
We had a strong turnout for the District 2 candidates forum on 8/24, and we thank many of you for being part of it. Here’s a video of the entire event, and when, at 37:30, they were asked how they’ll fight displacement and deregulation, they gave the answers below the video window on this page.
January 11, 2017
Mayor de Blasio seems hopeful that his friendly relationship with Jared Kushner may be of some benefit to New York City, but our community has not benefited at all from Kushner’s ownership of close to forty buildings in the East Village.
Kushner has brought nothing but unaffordable, luxury housing to this community and to NYC at large. While we are in the grips of an intense housing crisis, and homeless rates are at an all-time high & virtually every regulated tenant in the city is facing harassment, Kushner has converted scores of affordable rent regulated apartments into luxury housing that rent for $3,000-$5,000 per month. In doing so, Kushner has faced allegations of harassment and lack of essential services repeatedly. Numerous articles have chronicled Kushner’s bad-acting over his four years of ownership here in East Village.
We say to the Mayor that Jared Kushner’s actions are not those of somebody who “cares deeply about New York City.” We say that Kushner’s actions have contributed greatly to the loss of affordable housing. Furthermore, if the Mayor stands by his words and thinks Jared Kushner is “reasonable and moderate,” we suggest the Mayor come meet with Kushner tenants in the East Village to hear what they’ve been through under his ownership.
Steve Herrick Risa Shoup
Executive Director Executive Director
Cooper Square Committee Fourth Arts Block
61 East 4th Street 61 East 4th Street
Due to the popularity of this event, we reluctantly must limit participation. We cannot accept new RSVP’s and if you attend without an RSVP, please be aware that you cannot be assured a seat. We are planning a similar event in the Spring. If you’d like to be placed on a waiting list or to be notified about future forums please email Harriet Putterman at firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you for your interest and please stay in touch with the Stand for Tenant Safety Campaign by visiting www.standfortenantsafety.com.
Download PDF of flyer here.
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.
For Immediate Release: May 10, 2016
COOPER SQUARE COMMITTEE APPLAUDS INDICTMENT
OF PREDATORY LANDLORD STEVE CROMAN
The Cooper Square Committee applauds NYS Attorney General Eric Schniederman for bringing a 20 count criminal indictment and civil charges against notorious landlord, Steve Croman, who has a long track record of harassing and intimidating his rent regulated tenants. “Our Organizing Director, Brandon Kielbasa, brought many of these allegations to the attention of Attorney General Schneiderman’s office over 2 years ago. We are deeply gratified that he and his staff did a thorough investigation of the many tenant claims of harassment and intimidation that we documented, and moved forward with an indictment”, said Steve Herrick, Executive Director. Read More
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: MAMADOU BAH, COOPER SQUARE COMMITTEE
MAMADOUB@COOPERSQUARE.ORG, 212-228-8210 EXT 8
FAITH LEADERS AND TENANTS CITYWIDE CALL FOR AN END TO ABUSE BY INFAMOUS “WORST LANDLORD”, CROMAN
Faith Leaders: Tenants Will Not Be Pushed Out
Respect Tenants’ Rights
New York City, April 7, 2016
Tenants living in buildings citywide owned by abusive landlord Steve Croman – named twice by the Village Voice as one of the 10 Worst Landlords in NYC – and who have suffered threats, harassment and illegal rent increases at his hand have enlisted powerful new allies in their fight for justice. These tenants who refuse to stand by while their families are displaced have won the support of 31 faith leaders from across the five boroughs and beyond to denounce this unjust treatment and bring about change. Faith leaders and tenants from Croman-owned buildings will deliver letters from the 31 faith leaders to Croman’s office at 632 Broadway, 7th Fl (near Bleecker St.) on Thursday, April 7th at 1:30pm.
In their letters, the 31 faith leaders from a broad array of denominations – including Catholic priests, rabbis, Buddhists, and Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Methodist, Unitarian and Interfaith ministers – exhort Croman to “treat your tenants with dignity and respect rather than pressuring them to leave their homes.”
This landlord’s underhanded tactics include threats of jacking up rents by hundreds of dollars coupled with pressure to take buyouts. Tenants who reject buyout offers have received bogus leases with illegal rent increases, a blatant attempt at removing apartments from rent stabilization. Croman is also known for baseless court actions and hazardous and toxic demolitions and renovations, tactics aimed at driving out long-term tenants. Religious leaders argue that Croman’s abuses and tactics will have long-lasting effects as they “are resulting in the loss of critical rent regulated housing, which has a devastating impact on our communities by destroying the ethnic diversity and character of them.”
Croman is currently under investigation by the New York State Attorney General for his efforts to push rent-stabilized tenants out of their homes. Despite action by the Attorney General against Croman’s “tenant relocation specialist,” Anthony Falconite, well-known for harassing Croman’s tenants, this individual is still operating and pressuring tenants in buildings across New York City.
East Harlem tenant, Esperanza Figueroa, a member of Movement for Justice in El Barrio, is one of many who have suffered Croman’s intimidation attempts and abuse. When Esperanza went to Croman’s office to pay her rent, staff demanded that she sign a “Surrender Agreement” saying she would give up her apartment. When she refused, Croman illegally jacked the rent up by $300 a month on her new lease. Esperanza refused to sign and joined together with her neighbors and tenants in other Croman buildings to defend their rights as tenants. Esperanza, along with other members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio and members of the Cooper Square Committee and are now joined in their efforts by a powerful grouping of faith leaders from multiple denominations and faiths reflecting the diverse backgrounds of tenants in Croman’s over 185 buildings citywide. Figueroa says, “My family and I are staying in our home. This landlord is trying to scare us with threats, push us out of our community and sell it off to the highest bidder. With the support of priests, ministers, rabbis and other faith leaders, we’re even stronger and we’re not going anywhere.”
George Tzannes, a tenant of 529 East 6th Street and a member of the Cooper Square Committee, who had been living without cooking gas in his building since December of 2014 (gas was just recently restored after a 15 month outage) said, “When Steven Croman bought the rent-regulated building where I’ve lived since 1974, the tenants immediately experienced aggravating rent billing errors, questionable legal fees, lost rent checks and baseless court actions. But the worst part is the way hazardous and toxic demolitions and renovations in vacant apartments push regulated tenants into buyouts. After years of living with toxic dust contamination from construction and enduring constant service cut-offs, anyone would want to leave.”
These examples of Croman’s abuse expose the landlord’s true intentions: to force rent-stabilized tenants and their families from their homes, replacing them with people from outside their communities who can pay double and triple the rents, further contributing to gentrification in low-income neighborhoods. The 31 letters to Steven Croman end by saying “as the owner of over 185 buildings in New York City, you have a great responsibility to thousands of tenants and we implore you to take on this responsibility and respect the rights of your tenants”.
Who: Faith leaders and tenants from Croman-owned buildings
What: Deliver 31 letters from faith leaders to landlord Steven Croman
When: Thursday, April 7th at 1:30pm
Where: Office of Steven Croman, 632 Broadway, 7th Fl (near Bleecker St)
Our organizing team was so busy in 2015. We accomplished a ton this past year … read on about all the ways we’ve been stopping displacement and building community!!
|For Immediate Release
March 2, 2016
|Contact: Brandon Kielbasa
(212) 228-8210 email@example.com
LET THE TENANTS COOK AGAIN!
East Village Tenants to Jared Kushner: We’ve Gone Months Without Gas — Enough is Enough.
Tenants of 118 East 4th Street Demand Adequate Living Conditions and a Restoration of Cooking Gas
Tenants Have Been Without Gas for Nearly Five Months, Other Building Services are Grossly Neglected
New York, NY – Tenants of 118 East 4th Street in the East Village appear back in Manhattan Housing Court on Thursday March 3rd at 9:30AM as part of ongoing litigation against their landlord, Jared Kushner. Tenants are calling for the immediate restoration of essential services and for living conditions to be rectified.
The tenants have recently endured bouts of no heat, mounding trash, and have been without cooking gas since October 2015. Con Ed shut down all gas for the building and Jared Kushner has yet to take the necessary procedures with the city to restore it. This comes on top of the landlord’s failure to repair a multitude of potentially dangerous conditions in the building, including:
- No cooking gas
- Collapsed ceilings
- Questionably safe electrical systems
- Mounding trash
- Deprivation of heat
- Apartments entered without notice
- Blocked mail delivery
For Immediate Release: December 10, 2015
Wai Yee Poon, Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
“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.
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
For Planning Purposes: September 30, 2015
Contact: Morgan Rubin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.