E.S.T.C. Bulletin
East Side Tenants Coalition

March 1997

When we sent out our mailing in December, we said our phones hadn't
stopped ringing, and nothing has changed! The good news is that tenants are
finally getting the message that their homes are at stake, but we hope it
will not be a case of too little, too late.  So many of the tenants calling
have individual problems that they need advice in dealing with, which was
time consuming.

There seems to have been a problem with the December mailing. We can only
assume the holiday volume of mail caused the trouble.  We had less than usual
in returns for the change of address etc., yet several tenants said they did
not receive it.  We spoke to Lenox Hill Post office, and the manager was so
concerned that he promised to give this mailing "special handling!" We are
going to review some of the information, so forgive us if we are repetitious.

We are seeking people with a car or a drivers license who would be
available on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday to come to Albany to lobby
up-state legislators.  This will be after things are settled in the City
Council, and the legislation must be signed by April 1st.  Non-drivers are
welcome to sign up as well.  Republican tenants would be helpful when we
visit upstate Republicans!

We will need help in the months ahead with mailing, phone calls, typing,
getting the word out to tenants in your buildings etc.etc. So many people who
signed up for "Special Events" couldn't or didn't come to the demonstrations
at City Hall or the one at the Sheraton Hotel.  Many times we count on phone
calls to you, so please take time to up date the informa- tion on the
membership form.  Write in "Demonstrations" if you are interested, as some
times things come up at very short notice.  Time is a major factor and this
will save us wasting it by calling you needlessly.  Also, confirm your phone
numbers and any new zip code additions.

In the past we have been very low key in regard to money.  So many of the
people we service don't have enough money to even defend themselves in
housing court by hiring a lawyer, but if we know the position they are in we
never remove them from our mailing list.  The cost of printing and postage is
always going up and if you have not sent in membership or a donation, please
do so now.  We must start removing people who asked to be kept informed, but
have never sent in their membership.

Remember there is an East Side Rent Regulation Forum coming up at
Hunter College Assembly Hall on Thursday, March 13th at 7:30 p.m. to
show elected officials we care about the rent laws. This has been an
expensive undertaking and we ran ads in Our Town, The Resident, and
Town & Village and have already distributed thousands of
flyers.  If you can afford a donation to help with the mini lobbying trips
and overall outreach efforts, please do be generous.

CITY HALL -- The housing Committee is due to meet on March 11th at 1 p.m.If
you can come to testify or to support other speakers, please come.  Check
with  our own Councilmember or us to confirm--they are well known for sudden
changes.  Please return petitions to us that you collected for the city
officials.  You can bring them to the hearing, to Hunter College, or mail
them to us.  Keep doing the State ones.

We advised you that we had been requested to ask Senator Goodman to sponsor
an extender bill in the Senate.  However, the legislation put forward is not
something we can support.  Senator Goodman has been tremendous in holding
back on it until it is something we can live with.  It was brought to our
attention that New York State Tenants and Neighbors had in their newsletter
that they had been working with legislators on the bill and that Senator
Goodman was going to introduce it in the Senate.  Unfortunately, we and other
tenant groups had not seen the finished product until February.  As a
bi-partisan tenant organization with 100% of its workers being volunteers,
we are not beholden to any political party and are only loyal to the tenants
we serve.  We thank the tenants associations we consulted with for their
reviewing the bill and their comments. A HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL WHO SENT
DONATIONS!


Points to make when writing, calling or lobbying
officials and to educate fellow tenants and friends
about the dergulation of new york city housing:


* Nothing is more effective than speaking of your own personal situation.
addressing conditions and rental practices in your building is also very
important. Senator Bruno is quoting a Harvard study saying that there is only
an average of $50 to $100 difference in rent between regulated and free
market rents in several areas.  We can all tell stories of what takes place
when there is.

* 73% of tenants on the East Side are protected by the rent laws.  The local
economy would be destroyed if current tenants have to spend 75% of their
income for rent.  If tenants don't have money to spend, stores and small
businesses will suffer and fail.  The majority of tenants already pay over
30% of their income for rent.  Seniors, the disabled and low income tenants
spend an average of 71%.

* Deregulation of N.Y.C. housing would be disastrous to the working and
middle class, seniors and disabled.  These are also the very people who make
up the volunteer core of the city.  Civic and social service organizations,
schools, block associations would all suffer. Without affordable housing for
the work force, which keeps New York functioning, salespeople, office and
social workers, teachers etc.etc. could not afford to live here.

* Overcrowding is already a problem for young people starting out in life,
and people of modest means.  Overcrowding would hit third world levels.

* Vacancy decontrol does not work!  In 1971 Vacancy Decontrol laws were
passed by the state. In fact, Charles Urstadt was Commissioner of Housing,
and it was all his idea.  He also left another dreadful legacy called the
Urstadt Law, which prohibits any bill from passing in the City Council that
is more stringent on landlords than exists in the 1971 laws.  It was that law
that has blocked us from getting an anti-warehousing provision passed, and we
have tried for years.


Governor Pataki appointed Urstadt as the head of his Transitional
Housing Team when he got into office, and the first thing he recommended was
"vacancy decontrol."  Harassment, denial of service and rent gouging caused
chaos in the early seventies when decontrol was in.  A special commission was
formed to investigate and their findings led to the Emergency Tenant
Protection Act in 1974, ending vacancy decontrol.  Prior to 1971, tenants
could and did move around within the city, but 400,000 affordable units had
been lost forever and people had to stay put.

Decontrol did not result in the construction of affordable housing.  All
buildings constructed since 1974 have not been subject to rent regulations.

However, many developers have opted to have temporary rent limits, so they
could take advantage of tax abatement programs.

Foreign companies are renting apartments in high rises and are using them
like hotels for their staff and families.  If rents are deregulated, they
will be on of the few groups who will be able to pay the higher rents.

Luxury decontrol is a farce.  Deregulating apartments renting for $2,000
with a "household" income of over $250,000 for two consecutive years did not
open up housing to the average New Yorker.  The only result was a wind fall
for greedy owners.  The Bruno-Pataki group are now talking about lowering the
income threshold.

There is no consideration given now to tenants who are paying for college
tuition or those who are paying for the care of an elderly or disabled family
member.  Many apartments have been deregulated even when the household income
is under $250,000 because the tenant was confused by the forms sent by the
owner and the State Division of Housing.  The forms are similar, and some
tenants thought they had already filled out the same form, so they lost by
default.  Many people in certain professions might have a high income for two
years, but will never see that kind of money again; for example: actors,
writers, small inventors, or people who have been downsized or just retired
and took their "life" benefits in two payments.

The "rich get rich and the poor et poorer" mentality of upstate
legislators will destroy New York City.  Governor Pataki has proposed the
reduction of property taxes for all home owners.  For seniors with incomes
below $60,000 the reduction will be dramatic.  New York City seniors only get
SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) if their income is under
$20,000 and seniors in unregulated housing get no relief.

When the people of Massachusetts went to the polls to vote to end rent
protection, they were told the elderly, disabled and poor would not be
harmed.  However, these people were only given a two year extension on rent
protections.  That time has just lapsed and the result has been bedlam!

DON'T WAIT UNTIL IT'S TOO LATE

Make phone calls, write letters, send a fax, get your friends, neighbors
and co-workers to do the same.  Come to Albany May 20.  You can reserve now.

We have buses going from 34th, 79th and 86th Streets and will make more
stops if needed.  If you are not working, get people to come on minitrips
between now and May.

Letters do not have to be long.  Encourage everyone to do at least one
short note for the City and for the State.  It can be as simple as, "Renew
he rent laws without weakening amendments, and no luxury decontrol."

Speaker Peter Vallone only wants to do a straight entender on the rent
laws and not cure the Luxury Decontrol problem.  Let him know we want both.

The City Council Housing Committee is notorious for changing dates of
hearings, so please keep in touch with us or your Councilmember if you can
make day time events.


CONTACT INFORMATION FOR OFFICIALS

Speaker Peter Vallone:  City Hall, New York, NY 10007.  Phone: 718-274-4500
Fax: 718-788-7207

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani: City Hall, New York, NY 10007 Phone: 212-788-2614
 Fax: 212-788-3142

Hon.Joseph Bruno: New York State Senate, Albany, NY 12247 Phone: 518-455-3191
Fax: 518-455-2448

Hon. Sheldon Silver: New York State Assembly, Albany, N.Y. 12248 Phone:
212-312-1420 Fax: 212-312-1425

Hon. Vito Lopez: Chair Assembly Housing Committee, Albany, NY 12248 Phone:
718-452-1112 Fax: 718-5452-7057

Send copies to ESTC and to your local elected officials.

Get petitions from us. Call 249-0582 or send a stamped, self-addressed
envelope with "Petitions Request" on the outer envelope.

DISTRIBUTE OUR MATERIAL IN YOUR BUILDING AND ENCOURGE OTHERS TO JOIN.

 

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