To join groups across the city for the #Sandy5 rally, march and celebration on Saturday, October 28th, click here.
To RSVP for LESReady!’s family friendly celebration SANDYWEEN on Sunday, October 29th, click here.
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 email@example.com . 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.
We have confirmed our STS Manhattan Town Hall on TUESDAY JANUARY 10TH at 1 Centre Street (19th Fl. South) at 6:30PM. This town hall will be focused on construction-as-harassment issues and how tenants can combat these issues and protect themselves. (This event is part of the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition, of which CSC is a member. Find out more about STS here.) Let everyone in your organization(s), tenants, friends, and other folks know. We want a big turnout! If you can attend, please fill out this RSVP link so we can get a sense of how many folks can make it.
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.
Sunday, May 22
(Light refreshments at 6:30, Film at 7 pm)
59-61 E. 4th Street
Set amidst the backdrop of the 2008 housing market catastrophe, Dennis Nash, a hard-working and honest man, can’t save his family home despite his best efforts. Thrown to the streets by real estate shark Mike Carver, Dennis, out of work and luck, is given a unique opportunity – to join Carver’s crew and put others through the ordeal done to him in order to earn back what’s his. Fueled by powerful acting and a taut, patiently constructed narrative, 99 Homes is a modern economic parable whose righteous fury is matched by its intelligence and compassion.
Free! Please register here so we know how many to expect.
Any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsored by CSC and the Workers Unite! Film Festival
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
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:
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.
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”.
CSC is a member of the Stabilizing NYC Coalition. Click image to read full Media Advisory.
Read more about Stabilizing NYC here.
Tenants’ Rights I
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
Apr 13, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY
Campaign to Strengthen and Renew Rent Stabilization Laws
Apr 21, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY
Tenants’ Rights II
May 19, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY
Click on any photo to enlarge. All photos on this page taken by CSC unless otherwise noted.
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