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Waiting on Justice

Posted by David White on February 06, 1997 at 16:08:06:

Tenants of 270 Ft. Washington, 280 Ft. Washington, 20 McGaw, and other buildings
under the Fort Groups (I,II,III,IV) management (owner L. Tanner), have
been dragged through court for almost two years now. As this time, at
least two court judges are balking at making the decision to declare our
buildings rent stabilized and NOT CO-OP, as they have said repeatedly in
their courts. This delay is because the landlords lawyer claimed a Supreme
Court case involving one of the tenants was still pending, however, this
case was dismissed and the supreme court judge had said this case did not
belong in Supreme Court but should be decided in Housing Court.

Several of us, including the mentioned tenant, sent the judges a letter, with
a copy of the supreme court judges ruling enclosed, stating that this was
a misguided decision. Now, we are waiting for a reply.

Several tenants, such as myself, have not received anymore papers from the
landlord, yet we are sitting without leases and we are needing the judges to
re-establish our buildings and apartments to the lawful rent stabilized status.
I won my first case of "non-payment" where my new lease arrived two and
a half weeks before the prior lease was to end, and it was raised 50%. After
that I eventually received a 30 day notice, yet when that passed so did the
offered lease and I have received nothing to date.

We are considering optional legal representation, whereas we need legal
counsel with aggressive qualities and willing to put out strategic efforts
to secure our safety, instead of telling tenants they should move and telling
us to break up our tenants association!

All of our buildings are on the list of rent regulated buildings provided by
TenantNet (which is apparently from actual DHCR 1994 database) and yet when
our new "management" took over in 1995, our rent histories printed out our
buildings as co-op status. Every tenant with leases before the 1990's has
rent stabilzed or rent control leases, and different other evidences have
conviced judges that the alleged co-op status is invalid.

We have heard some recommendations of lawyers, but with friendly links that we do not trust.
The new politician Espaillat was invited to one of our tenant meetings by a
supposed "friend" and he failed to show, knowing our situation.

We don't need anyone to be telling us that we should make deals, or consider
moving, when we've seen evidence and heard the judges state that our
buildings are not co-op. Don't you agree?

We've thought of involving political groups or television reporters,
but how to get them interested to do it is another thing. Maybe we haven't
knocked on the right door?

Most of the endangered tenants are Dominican and we have two white tenants
who actually were told by the landlord (management) himself that he would
"get rid of a lot of these families", "get rid of the spics". Doesn't that
constitute racial bias and discrimination?

Also, a tenant works at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and saw an ad for
apartments in the area. When she called, it was our managment, and she
begin to inquire about the apartments. A little bit into the conversation,
the person in the management office, after being pleased that she worked at
Colubmia Presbyterian Hospital, became "confused" and asked "we are you from?",
to which the tenant inquiring replied, "I'm Dominican". At that, the person
on the other end said, "oh, no, ... no, never mind, ..." and hung up.

I welcome all advice, counsel, and recommendations, and I am still
considering some which I've received. We need support.

We deserve to keep our homes.


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