Tenants Wait To Check Details
Thousands hope worries are over

New York Daily News, June 16, 1997
Renters were feeling anything but controlled and stabilized this morning, even as lawmakers struck a tentative deal to keep rent protections in place.

Many said they were confused over the provisions, as few details were revealed this morning.

"The agreement being good or bad depends on what's in it," said Kenny Schaeffer of Harlem, who was among the dozens of protesters at a midtown vigil outside Gov. Pataki's Manhattan office.

"And we're waiting to see what that is."

"Certainly it's better that having no laws at all," said fellow protester Ken Ambrose, also of Harlem, minutes after the tentative deal was announced this morning.

Dave Chester of SoHo said that no matter what the terms of the compromise, "I really doubt things are going to stay the same."

The deal that produced the compromise on rent protections had made for an anxious weekend.

"I'm so frightened I feel Pataki owes me money for pain and suffering," said Marie Mazzarella, who has lived for 10 years in a one-bedroom, rent-stabilized apartment at 253 W. 72d St. on the upper West Side.

"I don't know, if the rent goes up any more, I may end up on a park bench," said Mary McCarthy, who has been in a stabilized two-bedroom at 239 E. Mosholu Parkway, Bronx, for seven years. A widow with a 13-year-old son at home, she pays $800 a month, she said.

Karene Carpenter was among more than 3,000 people who called the city's special hotline for tenants by 5 p.m. About 30 phones in the Command and Control Center on the eighth floor of 1 Police Plaza rang steadily.

Javier Ocasio, a Human Resources Administration employee who was taking calls, said senior citizens in particular were panicked.

"They want to know, 'What's going to happen to me,' " Ocasio said. "Sometimes, even if they're not affected, they need somebody to confirm that."

Mayor Giuliani could offer only limited comfort.

"The best I can assure them is that nobody is going to be thrown out of their apartment," he said at City Hall.

He said only "a very small percentage" of the 2 million people living under controlled or stabilized rents would be immediately affected if the law expired.

Nonetheless, worried tenants gathered at Pataki's office on Third Ave. and at the capitol in Albany, where the Legislature convened a special session at 7 p.m.

About 250 protesters went to Albany, said Jennifer St. John of the New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition, which organized the protests.

Mazzarella, the West Sider, said she pays $718 a month for her apartment and has been involved in the rent-regulation debate in recent months, passing out leaflets and appearing at demonstrations.

While passing out leaflets one day, a homeless woman approached her and said, " 'Is it true you're all going to be homeless?' " Mazzarella said.

"When I told her 'Yes,' she said, "I can't have that. I can't share my space with all of you. You have to solve this.' "

Janet Henne, 62, who has lived in the same one-bedroom apartment on 67th Ave. in Rego Park, Queens, since 1962, attended the vigil at Pataki's office, too.

"I have no place to move. I have no living relative," said Henne, a retired legal secretary who pays $500 a month rent.

Far more tenants were watching and waiting than were protesting, however.

"I don't know where to go. I don't know what I'm going to do," said Alyce Kozlin, 35, of 9393 Shore Road in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Kozlin, who works for the federal General Services Administration, makes $35,000 and pays $530 a month for the one-bedroom, third-floor apartment she shares with two dogs.

"I worry because there are a lot of elderly residents in this building and people who have pets. Where are they all going to go?" she asked.