NYC Tenant Program Counters Harassment by Landlords | City Beefs Up Unit Probing Airbnb Abuses

July 21st 2015

Photo credit: Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal

  1. New York City Tenant Program Counters Harassment by Landlords “The tenant outreach is focused on neighborhoods where the administration has proposed rezonings that would allow denser and taller residential buildings and new commercial developments, schools and parks. And neighborhoods near the proposed rezonings also will see Ms. De La Cruz and her colleagues. All the areas are crucial to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to preserve 120,000 affordable apartments and to create 80,000 within a decade. It is also an acknowledgment of the likely consequences of the proposed rezonings. As once-struggling neighborhoods gain amenities, landlords have financial incentives to push out lower-paying tenants.” [Wall Street Journal – 07/17/15]
  2. City Beefs up Unit Probing Airbnb Abuses “New York City is amping up its battle against Airbnb abusers. To fight back against residents who illegally turn their apartments into hotels, the Big Apple has doubled the budget of investigators who regulate illegal home conversions. The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, the little-known office charged with investigating quality-of-life issues, including illegal apartment conversions, had its budget doubled to $2.8 million on July 1. The money will allow the staff to expand to 29 from 12. In addition, the OSE will transform into an active investigative unit from one that merely reacted to complaints.” [New York Post – 07/16/15]
  3. With New Rent Regulation Law, a Single Word’s Meaning Could Change the Entire Discussion “After months of debates, two passed deadlines and advocates on both sides calling foul with the result — everything may hinge on a single word’s interpretation. Last month, lawmakers in Albany passed rent-regulations that would affect nearly one-million stabilized apartments within New York City. The bill— which raised both the income level and threshold price for deregulating an affordable apartment—was seen as a failure to affordable housing advocates, who called Cuomo a traitor for his support. But a few lawyers specializing in landlord and tenant law say the fine print might actually bring a hidden victory to tenants. According to The Wall Street Journal, some have spotted a caveat within the Rent Act of 2015, the 73-page new law. The aspect in question is the terms of rent de-regulation, the point to when a landlord is legally allowed to charge market-rate for a vacant apartment if the price exceeds a threshold.” [New York Business Journal – 07/17/15]
  4. Umbrella House: East Village Co-op Run by Former Squatters “Thirteen years ago, the City of New York ended years of conflict with the squatters of the East Village by agreeing to give them 11 buildings they had taken over. The deal included Umbrella House, so named by residents who imagined it might function as a central hub for housing activists. Since the transfer, hundreds of squatters in various buildings have gradually made the transition from outlaw homesteaders to shareholders in strictly regulated co-ops that are subject to rules limiting both the income of buyers and the profit that sellers can earn.” [New York Times – 07/17/15]
  5. It’s Too Early for the Housing Market to Break out the Bubbly “New home building sprang higher last month, but the lopsided gains were led by volatile apartment building, and the U.S. housing market still has much room for improvement, data released on Friday show. Consider this: June’s growth in housing starts was due entirely to multifamily housing such as apartments and condos (buoyed by developers rushing to take advantage of an expiring New York City tax break), while construction started on single-family homes slowed down, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.” [Market Watch – 07/17/15]
  6. NYC Tenants Struggle to Pay Monthly Rentals “With record-breaking apartment sale prices and a tight rental market, it’s a tough time to be a tenant in some parts of New York City. In the South Bronx, financial counselor Pedro Salazar says the majority of his clients, including many single mothers, at the Phipps Neighborhoods Financial Empowerment Center now seek help with back rent. Salazar says that some landlords are now unwilling to settle rent arrears out of court, and are hauling clients into court for smaller amounts of back rent than in the past.” [New York Post – 07/18/15]
  7. Free Broadband Is Coming to a Handful of Public Housing Developments “The city is wiring up three public housing developments for free broadband starting this fall, Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday. The initiative is meant to expand access to information and opportunities for some of New York’s poorest families, and comes at the same time as a federal push to get companies to offer affordable internet to 27 cities, including New York, and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. De Blasio is committing $10 million to equip the Mott Haven Houses in the Bronx, the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn, and the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing complex in the country. As the Associated Press notes: ‘Twenty-two percent of city households don’t have Internet service, and 36 percent of households below the poverty line don’t have it, according a recent analysis by the Center for Economic Opportunity.’.” [Gothamist – 07/17/15]
  8. Mapping How New York City Is Gradually Losing Its Rent Stabilized Apartments “In New York City, buildings built before 1974 with more than six units are often subject to rent stabilization. It’s estimated that more than a million New Yorkers have their rent regulated, meaning their landlords can only raise their prices each year more at a rate agreed to by state lawmakers. But prices aren’t as stabilized as they used to be. For various reasons, increasing numbers of apartments are falling outside the regime, leaving residents at the mercy of the city’s notorious real estate market. You can see the process unfold in this interactive graphic from ‘civic hacker’ John Krauss. Buildings colored red saw more than half their units deregulated between 2007 and 2014. Those in bright orange saw at least 25% of units deregulated, while lighter oranges indicate 10-25% and 5-10% decreases. Yellow indicates less than 5%.” [Co.Exist – 07/17/15]
  9. Local Councilman Not Sold on Brooklyn Heights Library Redevelopment “A controversial plan to redevelop the Brooklyn Heights library cleared a hurdle last week with approval from the local community board. But in an interview, councilman Steve Levin criticized the current proposal and said without some changes he might oppose it when the project lands before the Council for a final vote. Primarily, the Brooklyn Democrat said he philosophically opposes the city’s intention to sell a public asset—the land on which the library sits and the air rights to build above the current structure—to a private developer. ‘I have had concerns that have come up throughout the whole process,’ Levin said last week.” [Capital New York – 07/19/15]
  10. Housing Advocates Stage Sleep-in to Push for More Affordable Accommodation “A group of housing advocates staged a sleep-in to encourage the city to build more affordable housing. About 200 protesters took to the streets Thursday evening to call on Mayor de Blasio to set aside 15,000 residential units for the homeless. The group marched from the First Houses in the East Village down Avenue A to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, the site of the Essex Crossing Development.” [New York Daily News – 07/17/15]
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