By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

I just received an announcement from my brother/friend Zach Husser about an upcoming vigil to save the Rent Laws in New York - if they are allowed to expire the already greedy landlords will absolutely run amok and jack up everybody's rents; violate rights with impunity, and push those people who are low and moderate income families into the street.  While these rent laws, such as they are, are a joke, they are still necessary to keep wolves and vampires at bay - lest they really destroy New York.  It really is a matter of separating the needy from the greedy.  But until and unless there are laws that really consider and honor New Yorkers who live, love and work for this City every day, as much as they do those with mega-bucks; this is little more than arranging deck chairs on the Titanic - at some point New York is going to fall by the weight of its own stupidity, rigidity, inhumanity and greed.

This is my response to Zach's message.  The announcement follows.  

Hi Zach:
Thanks for the heads up.  I will pass it on - but please understand that this makes absolutely no sense - in a city where there are so many millions of people who are adversely affected by the actions of a handful of greedy owners; in a city where they depend on our rents just as much as we depend on their property; in a city where they have gone completely ape-shit crazy with rental rates that no regular New Yorker can afford, or should be paying - why are we still having this bogus, dog and pony, phoney negotiation every year? 

It makes no sense! 
When I first moved back to New York from California in 1984, it seemed that people had more power, understood their power, and wielded it - there were rent strikes all over New York back then; but especially in Harlem and Washington Heights (where I lived) against slumlords who were not providing the goods and services that people needed in order to live safely and comfortably in their homes.  It used to be that if you didn't have heat and hot water, you could take the landlord to court and get your rent reduced, or a rebate on the portion of time you were without services, for which you had paid your rent.  But no more.  And I'm curious as to how that came to pass!

Somewhere along the line we have allowed the greedy to vamp on the needy - eating away at their rent control rights; destroying their rent stabilization by pushing the rents beyond the margins into decontrol - and all people do is go to the so called rent leveling board - on which there are no tenants, just landlords, and watch them jack the rents up 2% to 4% or higher each year.

I think that instead of just having demonstrations, there be a massive strike across NYC with the funds going into a special escrow - and then make the legislators do the jobs they were elected to do - provide for the people who live in the city that never sleeps so that they continue living there, secure in the knowledge that some smug landlords don't hold the power of life and death over their heads by threatening the roofs over their heads.

Make Darryl Towns and Andrew Cuomo do their jobs and take care of the people, not the greedy slumlords - stop gentrification; make the "projects" decent, safe places to live.  New York is so "rent" oriented, people never think of owning their own homes - and end up in an ongoing spiral of haranguing with a remote owner who lives out on Long Island, and manipulates their lives from remote control.  Or worse yet, lives out of the country, after having purchased their properties wholesale through mortgage backed securities, and could care less one way or another, as long as their notes are paid and their investments continue to grow.

When rents approach $2000 a month, and a person's salary is  a little over $1500/mo - it's a formula for disaster.  If you've never done it, go into a landlord tenant court in Manhattan and look at who the majority of the people are who are facing eviction because the rents are unconscionable - who are hanging on by a thread practically selling their life's blood in order to stay in an apartment that is no bigger than 250 square feet, but for which they are having to pay some ridiculous sum of money.

It was eight years ago when former Congressman Edolphus ED Towns called a meeting of HUD and the Secretary of Housing to Brooklyn to stop the evisceration of Starrett City - one of the largest Michell-Lama properties in the state.  They're term was coming to an end, and they were getting ready to sell the entire property, which housed some 16,000 low and moderate income families, to a private developer for approximately $20 Million!!  
Towns stepped in and called everybody on the carpet! By the time he got through, the repuglycon appointed Secretary of HUD had resigned, and Towns had gotten the extension of Mitchell-Lama expanded for another 25 years.  He had the legislation passed after hearing testimony after testimony from tenants whose leases were not being renewed; who were being told that they had X-days/weeks/months to vacate.  The private developers were going to push those families out to who knows where, and turn the property into exclusive, private condominiums.  They already had the blueprints, and had had the audacity to even advertise in advance of the sale that this condominium was pretty much a done deal - with even modest studios going for $300,000.  Apparently, no one in the New York legislative body saw anything wrong with - they were too busy counting dollars in pockets to care.  Towns pulled the former head of HPD, Sean Donovan, in to the hearing, as well as the head of New York State DHCR, and other local housing administrators; and put them on notice that it would never happen under his watch.  He got the law passed, and it remains in effect - at least for now!

However, with three days before the end of Rent Laws, we now are in a crisis mode!  And, while I'm happy to say that Laurie Cumbo, Keith Wright, Annette Robinson, Letitia James, Charles Barron and others have demonstrated in Albany, and been arrested in behalf of the citizens - that kind of moxy on the part of our congressional representatives has not been forthcoming.  And it's going to take that to get the point across.

There is nothing  more ridiculous than an ersatz judge sitting in a landlord tenant kangaroo court, pretending to  "negotiate" this whole thing; who at the same time is probably one of the property owners or investors in the very home this person is trying to defend.  They pretend to be egalitarian, but the real truth is they could care less and are being paid - making a profit off of their plight through shadow investments. 

I've seen it in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx - same stuff, different day.  Mostly BLACK people in the courts, white/Jewish judges on the bench - white/Jewish lawyers - in collusion with each other - while the hapless person, who is either working two jobs, or on welfare with a job on the side; or on social security or some other meagre fixed income being buffeted around in this sham proceeding, which is going to eventually end up with the on the streets, living with relatives or neighbors; or for those with the options, moving completely out of the city/state to a locale where they can better afford to live.  I watched a judge turn out a 75 year old widow from her apartment in Brooklyn - she had been living there for 50 years, since the day she was married - the property should have been under rent control, but somehow the landlord was able to circumvent that.  The poor lady went from paying a small manageable amount to more than $1700. per month! Outrageous - and when she couldn't handle it, that judge told her she had to vacate by the following morning, if she could not come up with the balance; and the marshalls who had been stayed by another judge, would be there to move her out!  
By the way, these draconian, blood sucking rents are in the "DownState" area, not the rest of New York State - we're basically talking Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Westchester, Long Island.  In the mean time, in these same areas, properties are being warehoused, withheld from the markets, allowed to fall to wreck and ruin, decay and dilapidation until the price goes up - or the value goes so far down they can get permission to bull doze it and put some overpriced construction in its place.  

There are days when we can say "I love New York!" but New York doesn't love us back - at least not under the current circumstances.

Unless this demonstration to save the Rent Laws (such as they are)  is going to be replicated on the steps of City Hall, The State Capitol in Albany, and yes, on the front lawns of some of these property owners, the governor and other people who have decision making responsibilities  - it's only going to be a front page flash in the pan item for the meanstream media.  

There are enough New Yorkers to get their point across - take that same energy and converge on Albany and camp out on the Governor's front lawn and let him know that you are prepared to move in with him, unless he rolls back rent in New York by 20 to 30% immediately if not sooner.  Everything else is just an exercise in futility. 

The embarrassment of this nation is that we call ourselves the leader of the free world - but the truth is that the people who built it can't afford to live in it.  New York is considered the "greatest" city in the world, but her people are being decimated.  Where is the "great" and the "leadership" in that? 

Stay Blessed &

On Sat, Jun 13, 2015 at 6:25 PM, Zach Husser, Sr. <issuesandsports@aol.com> wrote:


If you haven't read the below news, it's your interest to do so! Spread the word and see What your Church, Tenant Group, Business, and Family of Friends can do to make sure the Rent Laws don't Expire!

In the Interest of Working Together,

Brother Zach          

Subject: Fw: NY: 3 days until rent laws expire!

We are three days from the rent laws expiring.  Rent regulation is the largest source of affordable housing for low-income tenants. But over the last 20 years, weak rent laws have made it easier and more lucrative for landlords to evict residents. Weak rent laws have led to the gentrification of our neighborhoods.

Tenants have been asking for STRONGER rent laws for years. And now, the clock is ticking.  If our Governor allows for the rent laws to expire, he should call a state of emergency.

That’s right!  2.5 million New Yorkers will be at risk of displacement if the rent laws expire and are not strengthened. Click here to send a message to the Governor

Thousands of struggling tenants across New York are just a rent increase away from losing their homes. Tenants across the state need stronger rent laws to protect them, but the Governor is letting them expire.

Send a message to the Governor right now, or click here to tweet to the Governor.  Tell him if the rent laws are not strengthened and expire, there will be a #TenantEmergency.

Thanks for all that you do,

Renata Pumarol
Communications & Social Media Director
New York Communities for Change

  €Ε“The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. -€“ Thomas Paine




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