Tag housing

PHOTOS: Stronger Rent Laws Rally and Civil Disobedience

On Wednesday, June 3, I joined hundreds of tenant advocates in Albany and was arrested along with dozens of activists and legislators calling for stronger rent laws.  Here are some photos from the event:

Fired up crowd!  (Photo credit: Make the Road NY)

Fired up crowd! (Photo credit: Make the Road NY)

With Sen. Brad Hoylman & Council Member Corey Johnson before our arrests. (Credit: Corey Johnson's office)

With Sen. Brad Hoylman & Council Member Corey Johnson before our arrests. (Credit: Corey Johnson’s office)

Assembly Members Bichotte, Ortiz, and Davila, with Council Members Cumbo and Williams.  (Credit: Office of Jumaane Williams)

Assembly Members Bichotte, Ortiz, and Davila, with Council Members Cumbo and Williams. (Credit: Jumaane Williams’ Office)

Council Member Johnson: "They may have the money, but we have the people!"  (Credit: A/M Gottfried's office)

Council Member Johnson: “They may have the money, but we have the people!” (Credit: A/M Gottfried’s office)

Tenants meet the press and call for stronger rent laws!  (Credit: A/M Gottfried's office)

Tenants meet the press and call for stronger rent laws! (Credit: A/M Gottfried’s office)

Assembly Member Davila: "If you ever get arrested, make sure it's for a good cause - and this a good cause!"  (Credit: A/M Gottfried's office)

Assembly Member Davila: “My mother taught me that if you ever get arrested, make sure it’s for a good cause – and this a good cause!” (Credit: A/M Gottfried’s office)

The message is clear!  (Credit: Assembly Member Gottfried's office)

The message is clear! (Credit: Assembly Member Gottfried’s office)

Being arrested for stronger rent laws! (Credit: A/M Gottfried's office)

Being arrested for stronger rent laws! (Credit: Assembly Photography)

The indefatigable Mike McKee, founder of Tenants PAC. (Credit: Corey Johnson's office)

The indefatigable Mike McKee, founder of Tenants PAC, is arrested. (Credit: Corey Johnson’s office)

Reginald Brown from VOCAL-NY stands for stronger rent laws in the War Room at the Capitol.  (Credit: VOCAL-NY)

Reginald Brown from VOCAL-NY stands for stronger rent laws in the War Room at the Capitol. (Credit: VOCAL-NY)

Council Member Williams, Assembly Member Mosley, and Working Families Party Director Bill Lipton (Photo credit: Jessica Wisneski, Citizen Action)

Council Member Williams, Assembly Member Mosley, and Working Families Party Director Bill Lipton await arrest (Photo credit: Jessica Wisneski, Citizen Action)

Times-Union: Chorus of construction workers join 421-a debate

By Matthew Hamilton, June 2

Several hundred building trades workers converged on East Capitol Park Tuesday for a heated rally calling for changes to the 421-a tax program.

That program, which offers tax breaks for developers who include a certain percentage of affordable units in their new developments, has become a serious political issue as the end of the legislation session nears. It’s become the latest spat between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as lawmakers try to figure out if they’ll address the soon-to-expire program at the same time they address New York City’s rent regulations.

(Currently, the two programs are linked because they were passed together in the 2011 rent regulations approved by state lawmakers.)

The labor union side of the debate is calling for prevailing wage provisions to be included in whatever version of the 421-a program is approved.

Press Release – Gottfried Calls for Rent Freeze

After Rent Guidelines Board Report on Landlord Operating Costs, Assembly Member Gottfried Calls for Rent Freeze or Rent Reduction

(New York, April 21, 2015) – Following Thursday’s report by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) showing that landlord operating costs in the city’s approximately 1,000,000 rent-stabilized apartments increased by just 0.5% in the past year, Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried (D/WFP-Manhattan) called on the RGB to freeze or lower rents for rent-stabilized tenants renewing leases between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016.

In his April 17 statement, Assembly Member Gottfried said:

“Too many New Yorkers are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, particularly when it comes to the increasingly high cost of housing.  With landlords realizing huge cost savings in the past year, as Thursday’s Rent Guidelines Board report confirms, it’s time for the Board to pass those savings on to tenants.

Budget Season Photos

Photos credit – Assembly Photography

Opening remarks at VOCAL's HIV/AIDS Legislative Advocacy Day, with Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Opening remarks at VOCAL’s HIV/AIDS Legislative Advocacy Day, with Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Joint Conference Committee on Health meets on the budget

Joint Conference Committee on Health meets on the budget

More from the Joint Conference Committee, with Sen. Hannon (L), A/M Cahill (R), and A/M Raia (standing)

More from the Joint Conference Committee, with Sen. Hannon (L), A/M Cahill (R), and A/M Raia (standing)

Packing the stairs for the Share Better Coalition's rally against illegal hotels

Packing the stairs for the Share Better Coalition’s rally against illegal hotels

Speaker Heastie leads press conference before Assembly passage of Reproductive Health Act

Speaker Heastie leads press conference before Assembly passage of Reproductive Health Act

More budget conversations with Assembly Members Barron (L) and Titone (R)

Discussion with Assembly Members Barron (L) and Titone (R)

Speaking on the budget

Speaking on the budget

Photos for the Week of February 23

At work in the Chamber, with Assm. Charles Barron (credit: Assembly Photography)

At work in the Chamber, with Assm. Charles Barron (credit: Assembly Photography)

Speaking at Housing Works' "Ending the AIDS Epidemic" legislative briefing.  (Credit: Assembly Photography)

Speaking at Housing Works’ “Ending the AIDS Epidemic” legislative briefing. (Credit: Assembly Photography)

Chatting with Charles King, President & CEO, Housing Works. (Credit: Office of Assm. Gottfried)

Chatting with Charles King, President & CEO, Housing Works. (Credit: Office of Assm. Gottfried)

With Senator Hannon at VOCAL's Hepititis C Awareness Day (Credit: Office of Assm. Gottfried)

With Senator Hannon at VOCAL’s Hepititis C Awareness Day (Credit: Office of Assm. Gottfried)

With representatives of the New York Public Library (credit: Dan Katz)

With representatives of the New York Public Library (credit: Dan Katz)

NY Post: Landlords planning more evictions after Airbnb ruling

By Julia Marsh, 2/21

The Manhattan attorney who won a watershed case evicting a tenant who cashed in on his rent-stabilized pad by treating it like a hotel has received a flood of queries from landlords who want to boot other profiteers.

“I believe [the decision] will galvanize a lot of landlords to commence actions where they see this abuse,” said Todd Nahins, who says he fielded 25 e-mails and six calls just hours after The Post exclusively revealed the Housing Court decision.

Before Judge Jack Stoller declared this week that “using a residential apartment as a hotel and profiteering off of it is ground for eviction,” building owners weren’t sure of their odds in court.

“I think the landlords believe that by bringing these actions they will have a shot . . . [whereas] they did not think they would be successful before,” Nahins said.

The Villager: Foes & Fans of Airbnb Share Views at Hearing

By Lincoln Anderson, 1/22/15

A City Council hearing Tuesday on illegal apartment rentals in New York City was dominated by debate about airbnb, the exploding online “home-sharing” operation.

Titled “Short-term Rentals: Stimulating the Economy or Destabilizing Neighborhoods?” the hearing was led by Councilmember Jumaane Williams, chairperson of the Housing and Buildings Committee.

The crowd packing the City Council Chambers included tenants and tenant advocates opposed to airbnb, as well as others who praised the easy financial pickings of renting out their places to perfect strangers, which can pay for a vacation, for example, or just supplement one’s income.

AP: If lawmakers don’t act, rents could rise for more than 2 million New York City residents

By David Klepper, January 4

ALBANY, N.Y. — Cynthia Chaffee’s Manhattan apartment would likely go for more than $5,000 a month if the landlord charged market price. But Chaffee pays thousands less thanks to the city’s long-standing rent stabilization rules — regulations that will expire this year if lawmakers don’t act.

The 63-year-old paid $300 a month when she moved into the one-bedroom space in 1978. To Chaffee, the rules governing how much she and more than 2 million other New York City residents pay in rent protect the city’s diversity and character.

“The city is changing enough as it is, and these laws are so important to so many people,” said Chaffee, who won’t specify how much she pays now. “If you want to have neighborhoods, if you want to have families and artists and elderly living in New York City, we need these laws. Can you imagine what New York City would be like without them?”

Chelsea Now: Exhibit Charts Luxury Building Workers’ Struggle to Join Union

By Eileen Stukane, 11/20/14

Courtesy of 32BJ William Rosado, porter at 520 W. 23rd St., poses with his photo. At right is the exhibit’s host, Lowell Kern. Courtesy of 32BJ
William Rosado, porter at 520 W. 23rd St., poses with his photo.
At right is the exhibit’s host, Lowell Kern.

Working for subpar wages and limited benefits in luxury buildings whose units often sell for over $1 million, a group of service workers have spent the past two years engaged in public and behind-the-scenes efforts to join the 32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Documentation of that ongoing struggle has been preserved in a photo/video exhibit that’s open to the public, and takes place in the home of a West Chelsea resident at odds with his co-op board.

Legislative Gazette: 72% of Airbnb rentals in NYC are illegal, AG says

By Jessica Piccinni, October 17

A report released by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last Thursday revealed widespread illegal activity from the online hotel company Aribnb.

The report, titled “Airbnb in the City,” analyzed bookings of short-term rentals in New York City between Jan. 1, 2010 and Jun. 2, 2014, and found that 72 percent of those transactions violated New York zoning laws.

As a result of the findings, Schneiderman announced a new joint initiative between the AG’s Internet and Taxpayer Protection Bureaus and the city of New York to investigate and eradicate illegal hotel activity in the five boroughs.