Date: Tue, 02 Jun 1998 22:23:21 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online 6/2/98

Tenants Online                                           6/2/98

In this issue...

* Update on City Planning Commission Vote, Wed. 6/3
* MBR hearing June 17
* DHCR Notice on MBR hearing (and link to full report)
* Harlem Tenants Protest Shortage of Housing Inspectors
* Updates on RGB Hearings (date changes)
* Actors' Equity Modifies Position on 8th Ave Zoning
* Joe Rose admits it's about Real Estate, not the theater industry
  Excerpts from City Planning Commission Review Sessions



Here's an update on the City Planning Commission vote on the
8th Avenue/Theater Subdistrict Zoning proposal.

City Planning's regular meeting will start at 10 a.m. in the
Old Board of Estimate Room (second floor) of City Hall.

However, there are a number of unrelated items that will happen
before the 8th Ave vote. We've been told by sources at City
Planning that the vote is expected sometime between 11 am and
12:30 pm. We urge you to come around 11 am, and please don't
mind if it doesn't happen right away.

Your presence is important because many from City Council are
looking at this issue. Peter Vallone, who is running for
Governor, is looking at this issue. If no one (or few) show
up, the politicians will figure no one really cares. On the other
hand, if we get a good turnout, they will (hopefully) take notice
and that will influence what happens at City Council. The developers
and theater owners are essentially using paid supporters. When
groups like Manhattan Theater Club come out in support, you have to
understand they get a lot of money (around $180,000) from the
Shubert Foundation which owns the Shubert theaters. What is interesting
is that other theaters that don't get financial backing from
the Shuberts did not come out and speak in favor of the proposal.

It's important that Clinton/Hell's Kitchen residents show up and
let City Planning know there are real people who will be affected.


Maximum Base Rent Public Hearing

The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal will conduct a
public hearing in order to set the MBR for rent controlled tenants for the
1998-99 cycle.

The Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building
163 West 125th Street, 2nd floor, Art Gallery
Wednesday, June 17th
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

To pre-register, call the office of Edward Blanco, Bureau Chief, Rent Control
at 718-262-4816.

You can also call this number to get the DHCR report on the recommended MBR
for 98/99. The preliminary standard adjustment factor for the 1998/99 Maximum
Base Rent is 3.8%.

Every rent-controlled tenant should plan to attend and testify.  In this, an
election year, rent-controlled tenants must let the state housing agency know
how vital it is to keep the low MBR and to use the modern MBR formula called
for in Local Law 73 of 1997.  For information, call Jenny at Met Council,


The following is from the landlord friends at DHCR. DHCR did not put this
notice up on their web site, so we scanned it in for you. The notice is
reproduced below and the full report can be gotten (in Adobe Acrobat PDF
format) at (it's 20 pages and about 1

George E. Pataki               Joseph B. Lynch
Governor                       Acting Commissioner

New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal
Office of Rent Administration
Gertz Plaza
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, NY 11433


Public Notice is Hereby Given pursuant to Section 26- 405 a(9) of the New
York City Rent and Rehabilitation Law that the New York State Division of
Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) will conduct a public hearing to be
held in the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building, 163 West 125
street, 2nd floor, Art Gallery, on June 17th, 10:00 AM to 4:00 P.M. for the
purpose of collecting information relating to all factors which the DHCR
may consider in establishing an interim Maximum Base Rent (MBR) for rent
controlled housing accommodations located in the City of New York for the
1998-1999 biennial MBR Cycle.

Pre-registration of speakers is advised. Those who wish to pre-register may
call the office of Edward Blanco, Bureau Chief, Rent Control at
718-262-4816 and state the time they wish to speak at the hearing and whom
they represent. Pre-registered speakers who have reserved a time to speak
will be heard at approximately that time. Speakers who register the day of
the hearing will be heard in the order of registration at those times not
already reserved by pre-registered speakers. Speaking time will be limited
to five minutes in order to give as many people as possible the opportunity
to be heard. Speakers should be prepared to submit copies of their remarks
to the DHCR official presiding over the hearing. The hearing will conclude
when all registered speakers in attendance at the hearing have been heard.
DHCR will also accept written testimony submitted prior to the end of the
hearing. Submissions may also be sent in advance to Edward Blanco1 Rent
Control Bureau, DHCR Office of Rent Administration, Gertz Plaza, 92-31
Union Hall Street Jamaica, New York 11433. To obtain a report on the DHCR
recommendations for the 1998-99 MBR cycle interested parties should call
(718) 262-4816.


Metropolitan Council on Housing: Media Alert
Met Council, Inc.
102 Fulton Street, Room 302
New York, New York 10038
Contact: Jenny Laurie
tel: 212-693-0553 fax: 212-693-0555

Harlem Tenants Join with Elected Officials
to Protest Shortage of Housing Inspectors

What:  Press Conference
Where: 101 West 140th Street (corner of Lenox Ave)
When:  11:30 AM, Wednesday, June 3

The Metropolitan Council on Housing will hold a press
conference at 101 West 140th Street to demand an
increase in the budget for code inspectors. The group
will be joined by Manhattan Borough President C.
Virginia Fields, City Council Members Stanley Michels
and Bill Perkins, and David Jones, President and Chief
Executive Officer of the Community Service Society.

Tenants of the 52-unit Central Harlem building, where
the tenants' association has been fighting for repairs
and basic maintenance for over two years, have plenty
of reasons to support the housing advocacy group's
initiative for more housing code inspectors--over 300
of them, to be exact. That's the number of outstanding
housing-code violations in the building.

"Despite the terrible conditions, there are apartments
renting for close to $1,000 a month," said Linda
Daniels, a tenant leader in the building.

What the tenants get in exchange from their landlord,
Kromo Lenox Associates, and their managing agent,
E.D.A. Management, which is headed by Geraldine Puente,
is a nightmare of abuse and neglect: no heat or hot
water for 88 days during the winter of 1996, low water
pressure, a frequently malfunctioning elevator,
defective intercoms, broken door locks, falling
ceilings, rats, roaches, radiator leaks, broken
appliances, and, during one particularly trying time, a
stagnant pool of sewage in the front alley. The tenants
have initiated court actions against the landlord on
numerous occasions.

There are 3,000,000 code violations on the books in New
York City, and 500,000 tenant complaints yearly. But
the number of building code inspectors has been
drastically cut - the number now proposed by the Mayor
is only a third of the number in place 10 years ago,
when there were 700 inspectors - and the city's
enforcement litigation department, which ensures
compliance with repair orders, brings cases against
only 200 owners a year; only 17 of the 38 positions
budgeted for attorneys are filled.

The Metropolitan Council on Housing is asking the city
to add 200 inspectors to its roster - at a cost of $8.6
million - and to hire the legal staff for which money
has already been budgeted.. The additional inspectors
would not only increase public safety and make it
possible for tenants like those on 140th Street to get
the services and maintenance they pay for, but would
also provide income for the city through fines on
recalcitrant owners.



Rent Guidelines Board
Public Hearings

The NYC Rent Guidelines Board will hold hearings on the
proposed guidelines of 2% for a one year lease and 4%
for a two year lease and a "Poor Tax" of $20 on rents
below $400 per month. Despite the fact that landlords'
costs went up 1/10th of 1 percent last year (a
statistical zero), Giuliani's RGB wants increases for
the owners...especially in the lower rent areas of the
city where low income tenants live. If the mayor and
the owners get their way, all affordable rent regulated
housing will be gone.

Public Hearings will be held at Brooklyn Borough Hall,
2nd floor, 209 Joralemon St. (at Court St.).  Tenants
can sign up to testify in advance by calling the RGB at
212/385-2934 ext 11.

Tuesday, June 16

Hotels & SRO's
 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Apartments and Lofts
3:30-10:00 p.m.

Tenants should plan to attend the final vote. At this
meeting, the board decides what the guidelines will be
for rent stabilized leases commencing between Oct. 1,
1998 and Sept. 30, 1999.

Vote on Final Rent Guidelines
Monday, June 22, 5-9 p.m.
Brooklyn Borough Hall, 2nd floor
209 Joralemon St. (At Court St.)




The Council of Actors Equity Association (AEA) passed a resolution May 28th
calling for the elimination of the west side of Eighth Avenue from the
controversial plan allowing free-floating Air Rights in the Theater
District and parts of the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.

Equity’s resolution called for the elimination of the entire west side of
Eighth Avenue from the rezoning plan or an alternate plan that includes
measures directly beneficial to the neighborhood.

In response to the resolution, the Clinton Special District Coalition
(CSDC) commended Actors’ Equity for recognizing the larger implications of
the zoning proposal, particularly that there would be a significant adverse
impact on the Clinton community to the west of Eighth Avenue.

CSDC spokesperson John Fisher stated, "Although we welcome Actors' Equity's
consideration of the Clinton neighborhood, many in the community feel the
proposal calling for a 44% increase in bulk just cuts too wide, too deep
and too broad to leave the neighborhood intact. Any promises by this
administration of a few units of affordable housing is speculation at best
and it won't even begin to mitigate the impact of carving up the
neighborhood. After all, it was City Planning Commissioner Joe Rose who
said to Equity's Council on January 27th that he would intercede to enforce
the anti-harassment provisions of the Clinton Special District. If
anything, it's gotten worse since then."

City Planning Commissioner Joe Rose steadfastly denies any impact would
occur from the construction of up to 22 skyscrapers, and has refused to
conduct an Environmental Impact Statement as normally required by the New
York City Charter.

Fisher continued, “In many ways, Equity’s change in position highlights the
crux of the issue and points out why a Special Permit and Public Review
should be required prior to setting a city-wide precedent allowing 2.4
million square feet of free-floating air rights over a sixty block area.
The public deserves to know from City Planning the depth of environmental,
infrastructure and community impact before it is too late.”

Kevin Finnegan, Chair of Manhattan Community Board #5 Land Use Committee
stated, “Actors’ Equity is the first union to examine the proposal with
some scrutiny and not surprisingly, they have problems with the proposal.
As other unions begin to look at the proposal in more depth, we expect they
will also find it flawed and lacking.”

Proceeds from the sales of air rights will go to owners of landmarked
Broadway theaters with a portion going to the Broadway Initiative, a new
industry organization. While much of the financing of the Broadway
Initiative remains unknown, theatrical unions are expected to provide the
lion’s share of the $10 million yearly operating budget. According to
figures supplied by City Planning and the Broadway Initiative, the amount
of money coming from Air Rights sales from the west side of Eighth Avenue
amounts to only 1-2% of the projected budget of the Broadway Initiative.

Fisher noted that many questions related to the zoning proposal and the
Broadway Initiative still remain unanswered. “We hope Actors’ Equity will
continue its investigation into the costs the theatrical unions are
expected to bear to finance the Broadway Initiative, whether the air rights
will provide suitable funding for general theater enhancement and the
burdens placed on the surrounding communities.”

The Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood runs from 34th to 59th Streets, 8th
Avenue to the Hudson River, and has historically provided affordable
housing for many in the performing arts. It is home to Manhattan Plaza, New
York’s largest dedicated artists’ housing and Theater Row, home to many Off
and Off-Off Broadway theaters.

# # #



Excerpts from the New York City Planning Commission Review Sessions, May 11
and May 27, 1998. All participants are NY City Planning Commissioners
unless otherwise identified.

Edward Rogowsky:
How are we to make sure that this artistic revitalization of the art form
will be served by this proposal?

Chairman Joe Rose:
I don’t know... the Broadway Initiative will or won’t’s
whether the theaters do or do not succeed in usage. That is the best we can

Jacob Ward:
How are theater owners funding this? How are members at Broadway Initiative
funding this? I haven’t seen a solution to make this a viable program.

William Grinker:
If Broadway Initiative is the “driving force” – a “crucial element” – then
where are the other elements... and where is funding coming from other than
the “supposed” sale of air rights?

Chairman Joe Rose:
Regarding transfer of development rights and the Broadway Initiative, the
two are related, but distinct. TDR and the covenants are concerned with the
preservation of theater [buildings] and must include the 8th Avenue zoning

William Grinker:
...the theater industry called the Broadway Initiative the “driving engine.”

Chairman Joe Rose:
[responding] Broadway Initiative is important, but not paramount.

Richard Barth (City Planning Staff)
TDR fees were never intended to be the primary component of the Broadway
Initiative. Rather, a significant first step – seed capital for this

Irwin Cantor:
Much is left to be said – the unions may drop out. We’re the only ones
stepping up to the plate at this point.

Chairman Joe Rose:
It may work out “in kind” contributions from the members... things are
being “worked out” – not a concern to us – our concern is land use – the
Broadway Initiative will work out it’s [own] funding.

Edward Rogowski:
I have trouble with two things. First, to have brought Broadway Initiative
together was a Herculean task – to have forged the unity – BUT this is not
enough! Too much is left to promises. Further, the audience development
contingent’s needs to raise money may undercut existing efforts of TDF.
Further the amount of money we are told will come to the Broadway
Initiative annually is barely enough to make any impact on goals of the
Broadway Initiative – maybe will help transfer one production per year.

William Grinker:
[agreeing] Concept good. But the proposal must be more creative with the
legal language to meet the challenge of funding mechanisms to carry out
commitments of Broadway Initiative beyond the “seed money.” Contingent
money must come into play. Can Legal get language to make it contingent?

Chairman Joe Rose:
This is a land use tool, not a budget item. It’s the City’s first
involvement with the Broadway theaters.

William Grinker:
Well, others must step up to the plate!

Jacob Ward:
You’re asking me to put up my money so you’ll put up yours! If the unions
don’t participate, the City has to do what?

Melanie Meyers, City Planning attorney
The Theater Subdistrict Council appointed by the Mayor is the mechanism if
the Broadway Initiative doesn’t generate the funding.

Chairman Joe Rose:
If the Broadway Initiative doesn’t pay up, we can find another way.

Brenda Levin:
If you want us to vote for an unprecedented change in zoning (linked to the
Broadway Initiative), they should sit down, lock themselves in a room, and
tell the Commission “this is what we intend to do!...”  We were told at the
hearing that if no air rights were sold, and if the theater owners
therefore put no money in the pot – that the unions and other members of
the Broadway Initiative would have to come up with the funding.

Jacob Ward:
Why should we be getting involved in this?

Brenda Levin:
The Broadway Initiative is not going to work without these commitments in

Chairman Joe Rose:
I’m completely confident this mechanism will work to support use and
maintenance of the theaters. Whether or not the Broadway Initiative
accomplishes its goals is up to them.

Brenda Levin:
Without the sale of air rights in a bad year, with 20% of the funding going
to inspect the theaters, etc., I don’t see how this is going to do much good.

Chairman Joe Rose:
...the $10 per square foot is enough – the Broadway Initiative is separate
– separate the entrapreneurial from the land use. The minimum that the $10
per square foot can do is the inspections, the reports, etc. “In kind”
contributions are expected... In terms of Off-Broadway and OOB, etc.,
moving shows – those are speculative – a lot of contributions will be “in
kind” – that needs a lot of time to be worked out. We are concerned with
inspections of theaters and use – NOT other aspects. That’s up to them.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Sat, 06 Jun 1998 09:39:29 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online 6/6/98

Tenants Online                                           6/6/98

In this issue...

* NY City Council funds 75 Additional Housing Inspectors
* Save the Housing Court Information Tables!
* Politics Charged in Delay of New York Rent Survey (NYT)
* Squatters' World Games (LES could take lessons)



The Metropolitan Council on Housing, New York's largest tenant union,
praised the New York City Council for passing a budget including funding
for 75 additional housing inspectors - 33% more than proposed in the
mayor's budget.

"This represents a substantial and significant increase in the city's
commitment to preserve housing in New York City," declared Met Council
executive director Jenny Laurie.  "Seventy five additional inspectors in
the field will go a long way toward identifying hazardous conditions which
hundreds of thousands of tenants are exposed to, such as falling ceilings,
no heat or hot water, rats and exposed lead paint."

Under the City Council budget, the number of inspectors will rise to 300,
which is still less than the number in the field in the 1980s.

The other missing piece in the city's enforcement of its housing
maintenance code is the fact that the office which is supposed to take
owners into court when violations are not timely corrected is barely
functioning, with less than half of its budgeting staff.  "Only 17 of 38
budgeted positions in HPD's litigation bureau are filled," Laurie pointed
out.  "As a result, the city is only able to bring 200 cases a year against
scofflaw owners, even though there are 3,000,000 uncorrected violations on
the books.  An administration dedicated to law enforcement and the quality
of life should be doubly concerned about enforcing the laws that require
that our homes be kept free of hazardous conditions."

"We worked for months to get the budget for housing inspectors increased,
and are grateful that our work paid off," Laurie concluded.  "Investing in
preserving our diminishing supply of affordable housing is both prudent and



Governor Pataki has vetoed State funding for the City-Wide Task Force on
Housing Court.  For over 17 years, the CWTFHC has assisted over 1 million
residents with information, referrals and advice at information tables in
each borough housing court and over their phone hotline.  Unless funding is
restored, we will be forced to suspend the tables starting Monday June 15.
No City or State agency or the court provides our services.  We need your
support to keep the tables open.

We are asking supporters of the CWTFHC to take some immediate steps to save
the "Information Table Project".  The State Legislature had approved
$262,500 in continued funding for the CWTFHC and a contract was to be
signed with the Office of Court Administration (OCA).  Legislators and OCA
must hear from us that funding for the CWTFHC must continue uninterrupted.
Our services are needed more then ever, particularly in light of the major
changes underway in the "remaking of Housing Court".

Step ONE is to contact Judge Judith Kaye at the OCA and and urge OCA to
EXTEND the contract with the CWTFHC for the Table project.

Step TWO is to contact the Governor and the State legislative leaders and
urge them to negociate restorations to the State budget before recessing
for the summer.  Please see sample "draft" letters to OCA and the Governor

DRAFT SUPPORT LETTER TO OCA (Please edit as suits your needs.)
Honorable Judith Kaye
Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals
230 Park Avenue,  Suite 826
New York, New York   10169-007

Dear Justice Judith Kaye:

     I am writing on behalf of the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court
and I am very concerned about their continued operation.  As an (advocate,
attorney, director, a NYC resdent) at (name of organization, if any), I
have seen first hand the impact  that Task Force has had on residents of
(name of community you serve).  Going to housing court, particularly when
your home is at stake, can be a frightening and confusing experience.
Getting basic straight forward information about court procedures and
getting referred to a legal service or community based organization for
representatation or advice can mean the difference between staying housed
or going homeless.

     The Task Force provides a  vital service to the court system, by
providing essential information to pro-se litigants in each of the
borough's housing courts.  Each table assists 40 to 60 unrepresented New
Yorkers each day, serving over 60,000 residents a year.  The Task Force is
also currently providing additional services to the court system by
facilitating the development of various projects related to the Housing
Court Inititive announced last year.

     In spite of all the valuable contributions which the Task Force makes
to the court and the communities it serves, the Task Force's Information
Table Program was vetoed by the Governor for the 1998-99 fiscal year.
Without continued support from the State, the Task Force will be forced to
suspend its information tables in the housing courts in June 1998.  This
will be the end of a vital source of information and access to justice for
thousands of pro se litigants.

     I write to respecfully request that the OCA fund the Task Force's
information tables for the 1998-99 fiscal year.  Thank you for your help in
this urgent matter.


SAMPLE DRAFT LETTER TO GOVERNOR: (please edit as suits your needs)
Honorable George E. Pataki
Governor of New York
Executive Chamber
Albany, New York  12224

Dear Governor Pataki,

I write to express my deep concern regarding your recent veto of the entire
State appropriation of $262,500 for the Cit-Wide Task Force on Housing
Court.  Ensuring access to our judicial system is not and should not be a
partisan issue.  Indeed, you have approved funding for these very programs
every year since you became Governor.

     The City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court's information tables in New
Yok City's Housing Court serve 60,00 tenants and small landlords each year
providing critical information and referrals to civil legal service
programs, public assistance, government programs, private charities and
community groups.  The Task Force is a vital service to unrepresented
parties in Housing court and helps to prevent evictions and enable tenants
to obtain needed funds to save their homes.  The Task Force's efforts have
been praised by the Fund for Modern Courts and by the Office of Court
Administration as being vital to the court system.

     The $262,000 represents almost the entire Task Force budget.  Without
that money, the Task Force cannot survive.  The Task Force will be forced
to shut down the information tables at a time when unrepresented parties
need the Task Force the most.  In the wake of the Housing Court's
restructuring, elimination of the Task Force tables could not come at a
worse time for unrepresented parties.

     I urege you to restore this $262,500 in funding for the City Wide task
Force on Housing Court.


cc:  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver


Citt-Wide Task Force on Housing Court
29 John Street, Suite 1108,  New York, N.Y.  10038
212-982-5512   FAX: 212-982-3036

Thanks for your support, we're depending on you for our survival.


New York Times, June 3, 1998

NEW YORK -- The New York City panel that sets annual increases for
rent-stabilized apartments voted on Tuesday to delay the release of a
survey that would provide the first detailed look at rents since the state
Legislature scaled back protections for tenants last year.

The 4-3 vote by the Rent Guidelines Board drew angry criticism from the
board's two tenant representatives. They accused the chairman, Edward
Hochman, an appointee of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, of suppressing the report
because it could prove politically damaging to Giuliani's fellow
Republican, Gov. George Pataki, who is running for re-election this year.

During the bruising fight in Albany last year over the future of rent
regulations, Pataki advocated eliminating protections on all apartments
once they became vacant. That proposal failed, but landlords, backed by
Pataki and the Republican leaders of the Senate, won a compromise in which
they can now increase rents by about 20 percent when apartments turn over.

The survey questioned slightly more than 2,000 tenants who had moved since
the new rent laws went into effect. While the staff completed a report on
the findings and planned to make it public last Friday, Hochman read it on
Thursday night and said he was troubled by its presentation and because it
compared new rents with those in 1996, before the new laws were passed.

The 1996 numbers are the most recent ones available from state officials,
who record stabilized rents each year. Figures for 1997 rents are expected
to be released by the state this month.

"I thought this was a flawed report," Hochman said, in the middle of often
barbed exchanges with Kenneth Rosenfeld, one of two tenant representatives
on the board, who loudly demanded a copy of the report.

Hochman later added: "We're not going to go off half-cocked." He condemned
past instances in which half-completed reports were leaked to the press.

Rosenfeld, who engaged in a shouting match with Hochman as the meeting
began, responded: "I understood, legitimately, from the staff that the
report is ready, and ready to be distributed. And at the last minute you
made what appears to be a political decision -- but perhaps not, perhaps
just an erroneous decision -- not to let it out. I think it's an insult to
the public and the board."

He said later that he believed that the report was not being released
because "it will show with hard data what we all know is happening, that
regulated rents are skyrocketing."

"I think they're either protecting this administration or probably the
Pataki administration," Rosenfeld said. Hochman denied the accusation.

The board's two landlord representatives joined the two so-called public
members, who represent neither landlords nor tenants, in voting against the
release of the report now.

When it became clear that there were enough votes against the release,
Hochman, in an apparent dig at Rosenfeld, cast his vote in favor of handing
out the report, and smiled broadly. As Hochman left the meeting room in
lower Manhattan, reporters asked why he voted against his own position.
"I'm in favor of freedom of information," he said.


First Squatters' World Games in Leipzig (Germany)]
(Forget the Olympics! These are the real games...)
from: A-INFOS NEWS SERVICE and Squat!net (Internet)]

On 24 April, a huge number of squatters (and those who wanted to become
squatters) met in Leipzig to squat as many houses as possible within 24
hours. They wanted to set up a record and draw public attention to the
enormous dimensions of  unoccupation in Leipzig. The whole event was very
lively in the beginning, however in the end it was clouded by 88 recorded
arrests (actually there were probably more than 200 ) and the fatal
accident of our friend Thomas.

The first squattings even took place before the official start on Friday,
3pm, but most of them were immediately evicted. All together about 120
houses were squatted, though this number is not really representative
because a number of them were fake or double squattings. The cops were
kept very busy, but sometimes it was not clear who was hunting whom, and
who should get the entry into the Guinness Book of Records in the end.
Anyway, some of the squats succeeded in breaking the "Leipziger Linie"
(Leipzig Line - eviction within 24 hours).

Most of the arrests resulted in the usual charges for illegal entry of a
house and damage to property. Some could even leave prison without any
charges. The last people who were in police custody were set free on
Sunday afternoon. However, there are still some people in prison who are
supposed to have taken part in the squatting and the defense of a house in
Kästnerstraße on Friday. They are investigated for attempted manslaughter
and grave breach of peace. The house in Kästnerstraße had already been a
sort of semi-legal meeting place and was supposed to be legalised in the
near future, which probably won't happen anymore.

A further incredible cynicism of the public prosecutor's office was to
take proceedings for complicity in murder against those who were in the
houses where Tom's fatal accident happened [Tom fell off a balcony, nobody
knows why, he was not drunk or anything like that]. Those charges have
been dropped meanwhile. A spontaneous commemoration of five friends of Tom
in front of the house was bravely prevented by 40 pigs in battle dresses,
the participants were arrested. The majority of the media accompanied the
Squatters' World Games with the usual agitation, and it was only after the
accident that the sensational press of the whole country became interested
in the Festival.

However, it became clear that the Squatter species still exists and is
still able to take actions. Next year there will be the next World Games.
Greetings to the circus of the lively and all those who have taken part
and will take part in the World Games. Strength for those who miss Tom.
And last but not least power for the arrested people. We don't want just
one house, we want the whole fucking city! There is a system behind
unoccupied houses! For a fresh start!

[The following articles were, among others, published in Klarifix, an
independent Leipzig journal]


200 to 250 participants, 350 policemen on duty, 33 evictions, 88 arrests,
12 persons on remand, and one person dead - that was the summary of the
LVZ (Leipziger Volkszeitung, the daily newspaper in Leipzig), which tried
very hard to play down the dimensions of the World Games, and which kept
pointing out that squatting is a serious criminal act and leads to riots
anyway. No wonder that the news were taken over without questions from the
police that the accident in Prinz-Eugen-Straße had happened during the
putting-up of a banner. A police woman spoke out what many thought: "You
see, that's what you get out of it." And very quickly the accident becomes
an example for the dangers of squatting. On the other hand, "Leipzigs
Neue" (left-wing daily newspaper in Leipzig) blames police for the whole
thing, which is nonsense as well.

It is very hard to tell how many people actually turned up, I think it is
realistic to talk about 600 to 1000 participants. They notified the
information office of more than 120 squattings, however, a lot of them
were fake squattings. The cops tried very hard to push the "Leipziger
Linie" through, and they were more successful than expected. Accordingly,
only a few houses were able to break the Leipzig Line and to hold on for
more than 24 hours. In any case, the number of evictions was probably a
record as well. Apart from that, the cops arrested about 200 people, and
at least 13 of them came on remand for several different charges. As far
as I know, there is still one person in prison, the others have been set
free on different conditions.

All in all, the image is very cloudy because of  a number of negative
events, and it's hard to say the whole thing went well. However, I think
it was good that the World Games took place, and that a huge number of
people with lots of ideas turned up. The whole event was based on the own
initiative of everybody, and I think that's great and we should build up
on that. On the other hand, it was a pity that a lot of people
concentrated on actions near and around the existing projects, because it
were the decentral actions that were the hardest to cope with for the
cops, and what could have happened if ...?Anyway, I'm looking forward to
next year, when much more people and much more ideas will make things


The World Games were not successful in the respect of driving the
neofascists far enough back, at least where the squats were. The Faschos
found a way to become active and were even allowed to act as defenders of
law and order and  to practically evict one squat without being
interrupted by the cops. The methods they used were more or less those the
cops applied on that day.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 12:28:40 -0400
Subject: Tenant Alert

Tell City Council: Don't Back Down on the Budget          6/10/98


Normally the Mayor and City Council come to an agreement on the
city's fiscal budget without too much bloodletting. This
year is different, surprisingly, even with a massive surplus.
But then again this is the Mayor who cuts Arts and Libraries,
arrests artists and hot dog vendors, and threatens to tear down

Of course you've heard of Yankee Stadium and that seems to be
highest on the radar screen. City Council Speaker Peter Vallone,
who is running for Governor, has proposed a referendum where city
voters could vote if Yankee Stadium should be relocated to
Manhattan's West Side and if the city should pay for it.
(We all know that answer, don't we?)

The Mayor doesn't want a referendum because he know that
he would lose overwhelmingly. So he's holding the City's budget
hostage. City Council passed their own budget last week. Now
the Mayor is playing hardball, vetoing various parts of the
budget. Council is expected to override the vetos, but the
Mayor can then impound funds.


Remember when you could get a housing inspector if you didn't
have heat or hot water or the ceiling was caving in? Have you
tried to get an inspector lately? The City now has less than 200
inspectors down from around 800. The new City Council Budget
has provided funding for an additional 75 inspectors. Hardly
what we need, but it's the first movement upward in several years.

We're seeing harball poker and bluffing going on between the
Mayor and Vallone and the Council. If the Council gives in
on the Mayor's Budget demands, we could lose the additional
inspectors that are slated to come on. We could lose a lot
of other things that are also in the City Council budget.

This is the time for elected Democrats to show some backbone
against this out-of-control Mayor. Call, write and fax your
local Democratic Councilmember and tell them not to back
down, don't let the Mayor bully them. People are looking for
real leadership. If they stand up, people will be behind them.
This is the message you should get across. Also call Vallone's
office and his campaign office and tell him not to back down.

On the list below, you can consult the neighborhood to see where
your local councilmember is. An asterisk (*) next to the
District number indicates the councilmember is Republican,
and you don't need to call Republicans on this one.

Hon. Peter F. Vallone
Speaker, NY City Council
22-45 31st St.
Astoria, NY 11105
District Office  (718) 274-4500  fax (718) 726-0357
City Hall Office (212) 788-7210  fax (212) 788-7207
Kevin McCabe, Chief of Staff
Bruce Bender, Deputy Chief of Staff

Friends of Vallone (gubernatorial campaign office)
31-19 37th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
tel: (718) 433-1998   fax (718) 433-1999

This may not be formatted too well on email, but the order of telephone
are 1) District voice, 2) District Fax and 3) City Hall Office voice

Dis.	Name	District Office	Telephone
        Fax	City Hall telephone (all 212) Manhattan

1	Kathryn E. Freed	51 Chambers St. (Suite 429), 10007
        (212)788-7722   (212)788-7727	--N/A--
	Soho, Noho, TriBeCa, Wash Sq, Wall St, Battery Pk, So St Seaport,
        Chinatown, Little Italy, Ctrl Village, Lower East Side

2	Margarita Lopez	33 West 14th Street, 10011	(212)614-8751
        (212)614-8813   788-7366
	Lower East Side, East Village, Gramercy Pk., Kips Bay, part of Murray Hill

3	Thomas K. Duane	275 7th Ave. 12th Fl., 10001	(212)929-5501	(212)929-5562
	Greenich Village, Chelsea, Clinton; parts of Soho, Murray Hill

4*	Andrew S. Eristoff	409 E. 14th St. (Suite B), 10009	(212)818-0580
        (212)818-0706	788-7393
	Yorkville, Up. E. Side, Ctrl Pk So., Grand Ctrl, Tudor Cty, Waterside,
        Peter Cooper, Stuy.
        Town, Unit Nat., Turtle Bay

5	A. Gifford Miller	336 East 73rd St. (Suite C), 10021	(212)535-5554
        (212)535-6098	788-6873
	Beekman, Sutton Place, Upper East Side, Lenox Hill, Yorkville, Roosevelt
        Is., part of Turtle Bay

6	Ronnie M. Eldridge	10 Columbus Circle (Rm 1490), 10019	(212)765-4339
        (212)765-4805	788-6975
	West Side, 55th to 96 Sts

7	Stanley E. Michels	City Hall, NYC 10007	(212)928-1322
        (212)740-5839	788-7700
	Inwood, Washington Hts., West and Central Harlem, Morningside Hts

8	Philip Reed	105 East. 116th St., 10029	(212)828-9800
        (212)722-6378	788-6960
	Upper West Side, East Side, part of Mott Haven, Bronx

9	Bill Perkins 	ACP Jr. Sta Ofc 163 W. 125 St., 10027	(212)662-4440
        (212)932-1130	788-7397
	Central Harlem, Morningside Hts., Upper West Side, East Harlem

10	Guillermo Linares	260 Audubon Ave, Ground Fl., 10033	(212)781-0856
        (212)740-1573	788-7354
	parts of Washington Hts., Inwood, Marble Hill


11	June M. Eisland	3636 Waldo Avenue, 10463	(718)549-0158	(718)549-6983
	Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, Norwood, parts of Bedford Park,
        Wakefield, Bronx Park East

12	Lawrence A. Warden 3763 White Plains Road, 10466	(718)994-9951
        (718)515-2718	788-7384
	Edenwald, Co-op City, Wakefield

13	Madeline Provenzano	80 Westchester Square, 10461	(718)931-6063
        (718)518-8443	788-7074
	Pelham Pkwy N. and S., Pelham Bay, Country Club, City Island, Throgs Neck,
        Allerton, Baychester, Morris Park

14	Adolfo Carrion, Jr.	1 East Fordham Road, 10468	(718)584-6955
        (718)584-5725	788-7250
	Fordham, Kingsbridge

15	Jose Rivera	2488 Grand Concourse, 10458	(718)364-3700	(718)365-5267
	Belmont, Morrisania

16	Wendell Foster	1377 Jerome Avenue, 10452	(718)588-7500	(718)588-7790
	W. Bronx, Morrisania, South Bronx, Highbridge, Melrose

17	Pedro Espada	558 Melrose Avenue, 10455	(718)402-7602
        (718)402-7735	788-6956
	Mott Haven, Crotona, Longwood, Soundview, Hunts Point

18	Lucy Cruz	1967 Turnbull Avenue, 10473	(718)518-7110	(718)518-7016
	Bx Riv, Parkch, Soundview, Clason Pt, Castle Hill, Harding Pk, Ferry Pt,
        Zerega, Van Nest, Hunts Pt, Crotona Pk, Tremont


19*	Michael J. Abel	199-17A 32nd Ave, Bayside W. 11358	(718)352-0200
        (718)352-5405	788-7357
	Bayside, Bowne Park, Auburndale, Beechurst, Bay Terr., Robinwood; parts of
        Douglaston, Little Neck

 20	Julia Harrison	39-15 Main St. (Suite 211) Flushing 11354	(718)886-7040
        (718)359-4973	--N/A--
	Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Mitchell Gardens, Kissena Park, Harding Hts.,
        Auburndale, part of Whitestone

21	Helen M. Marshall	97-19 Astoria Blvd., E Elhurst 11369	(718)507-0813
        (718)507-1840	788-7366
	Corona, Corona Hts., Elmhurst, E. Elmhurst, Jackson Hts

22	Peter F. Vallone	22-45 31st St., Astoria 11105	(718)274-4500
        (718)726-0357	788-6865
	Astoria, Long Island City; part of Jackson Hts.; Rikers, Randall's and
        Ward's Is

23	Sheldon S. Leffler 205-07 Hillside Ave., Hollis 11423	(718)465-8202
        (718)776-2302	788-6850
	Hollis, Queens Vill, Little Neck, Douglaston, Bayside, Bellerose, Floral
        Pk, Glen Oaks,
        New Hyde Pk, Fresh Meadows

24	Morton Povman 	108-18 Queens Blvd, Forest Hills 11375	(718)793-2255
        (718)520-8175	788-7078
	Kew Gdns, Briarwood, Electchester, Flushing Hts., Hillcrest, Pomonok,
        Queensboro Hill, Rego Park;
        Forest Hills, Jamaica

25	John D. Sabini	37-32 75th St., Jackson Heights 11372	(718)507-3688
        (718)507-2982	788-7348
	Parts of Jackson Hts., Elmhurst, E. Elmhurst, Rego Park, Woodside, Corona

26	Walter L. McCaffrey	62-07 Woodside Ave, Woodside 11377
        (718)639-1400    (718)899-1294	788-6957
	Long Is. City, Sunnyside; Woodside, Maspeth, Hunters Point, Ravenswood,
        Blissville, Queensbridge,
        Dutch Kills, Astoria

27	Archie Spigner	113-39 Farmers Blvd., St. Albans 11412	(718)776-3700
        (718)776-3798	788-7069
	St. Albans, Addisleigh Pk., Hollis, Cambria Hts.; parts of Jamaica,
	Queens  Village, Rosedale,
        Springfield Gardens

28	Thomas White, Jr.	146-01 Rockaway Blvd., Jamaica 11436
        (718)322-6121  (718)322-6125	788-6963
	Jamaica, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill

29	Karen Koslowitz	118-21 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills 11375	(718)544-3212
        (718)261-5022	788-7066
	Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gdns.; parts of Maspeth, Elmhurst,
	Richmond Hill

30*	Thomas V. Ognibene	78-25 Metropolitan Ave., Mdl Vlg 11379
        (718)366-3900   (718)326-3549	788-7158
	Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood; parts of Maspeth, Elmhurst,
	Richmond Hill

31	Juanita E. Watkins	220-07 Merrick Blvd., Laurelton 11413
        (718)527-4356 (718)527-4402	788-7250
	Far Rockaway, Arverne, Edgemere, Bayswater, Laurelton, Rosedale,
        Springfield Grdns; part of
        Cambria Hts., S. Ozone Park

32*	Al Stabile	105-20 Crossbay Blvd., Ozone Pk 11417
        (718)843-5283 (718)843-5561	788-7396
	Howard Beach; parts of Ozone Park, S. Ozone Park, Richmond Hill,
        Woodhaven, Rockaway


33	Kenneth K. Fisher	16 Court Street (Rm 1505), 11241
        (718)875-5200 (718)643-6620	788-6981
	Brooklyn Hts., Greenpoint; parts of Williamsburg, Park Slope,
	Boerum Hill

34	Victor L. Robles	815 Broadway (Rm 515), 11206
        (718)963-3141  (718)963-4527	788-6856
	parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Bushwic

35	Mary Pinkett	324 DeKalb Avenue, 11205	(718)857-0959
        (718)857-5524	788-7007
	Clinton Hill, Fort Greene; parts of Crown Hts, Prospect Hts.,
	Bedford Stuyvesant

36	Annette Robinson	1360 Fulton Street (Rm 417), 11216
        (718)399-8900 (718)399-6099	788-7375
	parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Hts

37	Martin Malave-Dilan	786 Knickerbocker Avenue, 11207
        (718)453-4674  (718)453-4727	788-7284
	E. New York, Bushwick, Cypress Hills, City Line, Oceanhill

38	Angel Rodriguez	406 43rd Street, 11232	(718)436-2215	(718)436-2656
        788-7284 Bay Ridge Twrs., Boro Pk, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Wtrfront,
        Gowanus Hses, Park Slope, Red Hook,
        Sunset Pk, Windsor Terr

39	Stephen DiBrienza	507 Court Street, 11231	(718)858-5110
        (718)788-8967 788-6969
	Cobble Hill, Carroll Grdns, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Ablemarie, N.
        Ocean Parkway, Kensington/Dahill, Boro Park

40	Una Clarke	123 Linden Boulevard, 11203	(718)287-8762
        (718)287-8917	788-7352
	Kensington, Prospect-Lefferts, Ditmas Park; parts of Crown Hts.,
	Flatbush, E. Flatbush

41	Tracy Boyland	2094 Fulton Street, 11233	(718)345-3110
        (718)345-3120  788-7387
	parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Oceanhill- Brownsville, E. Flatbush

42	Priscilla A. Wooten	1962 Linden Boulevard, 11207	(718)272-3050
        (718)927-2584	788-6859
	parts of E. New York, Brownsville, E. Flatbush, Canarsie

43*	Martin Golden	9002 3rd Avenue, 11209	(718)238-6078	(718)238-6170
        788-7363 Bay Ridge; parts of Dyker Hts., Bensonhurst, Boro Pk

44	Noach Dear	4424  16th Avenue, 11204	(718)633-9400	(718)633-9403
        788-7022  Boro Park; parts of Midwood, Bensonhurst, Kensington, Ditmas Park

45	Lloyd Henry	1498 Flatbush Avenue, 11210	(718)421-6621
        (718)421-6625  788-7286
	Flatbush, E. Flatbush, Flatlands

46	Herbert E. Berman	City Hall, NYC 10007	(718)788-6984	(718)608-6382
	Canarsie, Old Mill Basin, Georgetown, Starrett Cty, Mill Is, Futurama,
        Gerritsen Bch,  Flatlands, Shell Bank, Sheepshead Bay

47	Howard L. Lasher	532 Neptune Avenue, 11224	(718)266-2000
        (718)266-0309 788-7095
	Coney Is., Graveshend, Brighton Beach, Bath Beach; parts of Bensonhurst

48	Anthony D. Weiner	1901 Avenue U, 11229	(718)332-9001
        (718)332-9010	788-7360
	Manhattan Beach, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay

Staten Island

49	Jerome X. O'Donovan	36 Richmond Terrace (Rm 312) 10301	(718)727-9730
        (718)816-8407	788-7098
	Westerleigh, Fort Wadsworth, Rosebank, Concord, New Brighton, West Brighton,
        Mariners Harbor; part of Dongan Hills

50*	John A. Fusco	94 Lincoln Avenue, 10306	(718)980-1017	(718)980-1051
	Arrochar, Bulls Head, Concord, Dongan Hills, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth,
        Grant City, Grasmere

51*	Stephen Fiala	3944 Richmond Avenue, 10312	(718)984-5151	(718)984-5737
	Arden Hts., Bay Terr, Tottenville, Great Kills, Richmondtown, Charleston,
        New Dorp,
        Eltingville, Prince's Bay,

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 15:56:23 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online 6/14/98

Tenants Online                                           6/14/98

(see separate email for info on RGB and MBR)

In this issue...

* Tenant Rally Day 6/20
* A Year After the Rent War, Prices Orbit out of Control (Voice)
* Correction of M. Lopez's address
* Proposal Threatens Rockefeller Center
* Rudy, HPD Idle White Housing Inspectors and Lawyers Dwindle (Voice)
* Code-Enforcement Campaign Gains Momentum (Met Council)



Saturday, June 20th
Noon to 3 PM
Union Square Park (14th and Union Sq. West)

Thought our rent regulations were safe until the year 2003?
Think Again

Thanks to Assembly Speaker Shelden Silver and Assemblymember
Vito Lopez (BK, chair, Assembly Housing Committee), the Rent
Regulation system is virtually defunct (calling it dysfunctional
would be kind--see below).

City Councilmember Margarita Lopez
State Assemblymember Scott Stringer
State Assemblymember Jeffrey Aubrey
James Butler, Local 420 Public Hospital Employees Union
Penny LaForest, Citywide Tenants Coalition

Sponsored by Belnord Tenants Assoc., Chelsea Coalition on Housing, Coalition
for a District 2 Alternative (CODA), East Side Tenants Coalition, Harlem
Tenants Council, Lower Washington Heights Neighborhood Assoc., Park Terrace
Tenants, Queens League of United Tenants, Riverside-Edgecomb Neighborhood
Assoc., Skyview Tenants (BX), SRO Tenants United, West Side Tenants Union
and others. For info call (212) 862-8958 or (212)822-8231.


$2000: A Rent Odyssey
A Year After the Rent War, Prices Orbit out of Control
from Village Voice, June 9, 1998
by J. A. Lobbia

Karen stomps around her Upper East Side apartment sounding like a hawker
for Home Depot. "Look at this," she says in her galley kitchen. "You got a
new refrigerator, that's $269. You got a new sink in the bathroom, that's
$69. A new shower door? Another $69, maybe a little more."

Surveying her cookie-cutter one-bedroom unit, Karen tallies up a
hypothetical bill for the "improvements" her landlord made before she moved
in this January. Even being generous—for instance, she prices out a fancy
tile bathroom instead of the peel-and-stick linoleum that her landlord
installed, and a builder's kitchen instead of the worn cabinets and used
dishwasher he left her—she figures the bill would be $7500. "Tops. Total.
That's it," says Karen, a former real estate broker who knows the cost of
such things.

There's no way the bill could reach $40,000, Karen insists. But that's how
much the landlord—one of Manhattan's biggest—would have to have spent to
legally charge the rent he wanted: $2500 for an apartment where the last
tenant had paid $800. As a favor to Karen—who herself was brought in by a
broker—the landlord offered her a "deal" for $2200.

Since state lawmakers profoundly revamped the rent law one year ago this
month, it has become almost irrelevant to landlords whether the first rent
they get on a recently vacant apartment is $2500 or $2200. That's because
the magic number is $2000—the level at which vacated apartments leave the
rent-regulation system and enter the world of market-rate rents, where a
landlord is free to charge as much as a tenant is willing to pay.

It's unclear just how many apartments have flown from rent regulation since
the law was signed last June 20. The state Division of Housing and
Community Renewal (DHCR) is still compiling data, and a study that might
have measured the phenomenon, commissioned by the city's Rent Guidelines
Board, was squashed last week by RGB chair Ed Hochman, who said the study
is faulty and awaits revised data. But tenant advocates say it's not
unusual for apartments to be deregulated because landlords have hiked rents
above $2000—not always legally.

Sam Himmelstein, a private attorney who represents tenants in disputes with
their landlords, says, "The incentive to get rents over $2000 is palpable.
I'm seeing a lot of apartments where the initial rent is over $2000 and
renovations that were done are suspect."

Renovations are key because landlords are allowed to tack one-fortieth of
the cost of renovations onto the rent bill of a new tenant. Regulated rents
also rise annually through RGB-issued hikes. In addition, last year Albany
granted landlords a 20 per cent hike on vacant, stabilized apartments.
Landlords combine these factors and try to reach a $2000 rent.

In Karen's case, for example, the landlord could raise the rent 24 per
cent, from $800 to $992, by combining the state and city vacancy hikes. To
reach $2000, the landlord would have to spend just over $40,000 on
renovations, charging one-fortieth of the cost—or about $1000—to the
monthly rent.

"There's just no way he spent that," says Karen. "I mean, landlords are
entitled to make money. They are not entitled to this kind of wholesale
thievery and ripping people off."

Unless a tenant complains, no one keeps an eye on whether landlords' claims
are legitimate, so units may be wrongly deregulated with no consequence to
the owner. DHCR will investigate complaints, but it relies on tenants to
initiate the process. To begin a challenge, a new tenant must inquire from
DHCR how much rent the previous tenant paid and question exorbitantly
different rates—especially in the absence of obvious major renovations.

"Anybody who thinks they have a problem should file a complaint with us,"
says Harry Ryttenberg, a spokesman for DHCR.

Just last December, Upper West Side tenant Sandra Prangley filed a DHCR
complaint alleging that her landlord, Maurice Herman, was overcharging her
at $2100 a month. DHCR records showed the last tenant had paid $1625.
Herman claimed that the hike was justified in part because he had installed
new windows. Prangley hired an architect who concluded the windows were not
at all new—a fact so obvious, Prangley says, "a six-year-old could figure
it out.

"If you just look at the windows, you can see that they're crumbling," says
Prangley, who is being represented by Himmelstein and attorney Maddy
Tarnofsky. "There's air-conditioner holes, and I don't have an air
conditioner. There's at least four colors of paint. Why my landlord didn't
claim something a little less obvious is beyond me."

Herman disputes Prangley's claim as "lunacy," saying her downstairs
neighbor complained about noise from Prangley's apartment. "We don't want
problem tenants, so we told her we're not going to renew her lease, and all
of a sudden, surprise! She files the overcharge complaint. It's retaliatory
in nature."

Prangley denies she makes excessive noise and notes that she filed her DHCR
complaint several months before she got papers from Herman saying he would
not renew her lease. On May 27, DHCR issued a preliminary order against
Herman, and is proposing to roll back Prangley's rent to about $1900.
Herman insists the windows were installed just prior to Prangley's tenancy.
He plans to rebut DHCR's preliminary order.

Himmelstein says the effects of the year-old rent law are evident in other
ways: "Landlords are suing right and left because they find a tenant has
another address upstate, even though the apartment is their legal, prime
residence," he says. Tenants must live in an apartment at least 183 days a
year for it to be considered a prime residence. And owners are less willing
to settle illegal sublet cases, says Himmelstein. "We used to be able to
negotiate by saying, give the subtenant the apartment and raise the rent
$300 a month, and that was okay. Now, they don't want that. They want that
rent at $2000."

Clearly, the new rent law is not the sole influence on the market. More
important is Wall Street's superheated economy, which enables more people
to pay higher rent. That economy and the $2000 policy work synergistically,
forcing many tenants to stay put or pay up.

In the end, Upper East Side tenant Karen struck a deal with her landlord:
she'll pay $1800 a month for a year. After that, all bets are off, though
she intends to file a DHCR complaint.

"This is happening throughout the market," says Karen. "The point is to
urge the world, if you've just moved, go to DHCR and check out the numbers.
Tally it up and see."



One reader noted that Councilwoman Margarita Lopez's district office address
was incorrect on the list sent out in the last tenant alert. The correct
address is 237 First Avenue, Suite 405, New York, New York 10003.  The
telephone and fax numbers are correct.


HDC PRESERVATION ALERT: Proposal Threatens Rockefeller Center
Proposal Now Under Review at the New York City Landmarks Preservation

Please take action!

Rockefeller Center, widely claimed by architectural historians as the
finest and most refined compact planned urban space in the United States,
contains a most distinguished and extremely ambitious decorative public art
program, arguably the finest of its period in the world. It is an
unparalleled paradigm of how to plan internal and external space and
traffic flows (pedestrian and automotive); how to employ gardeners,
artists, architects and artisans in a unique melding of their skills; and
how to build and mass skyscrapers in a definitive and highly dramatic Art
Deco style.

A proposal now under review at the Landmarks Preservation Commission
threatens Rockefeller Center with a number of highly intrusive and
destructive alterations planned by the owners to accommodate enhanced
commercial uses. Boosting the Center’s commercial capabilities is, in and
of itself, a very reasonable aim. Preservationists believe, however, that
this must be achieved without destructive intrusions. Unfortunately, many
of the proposed changes would, if allowed, irreparably alter the
architectural integrity of a number of the Center’s significant spaces. A
number of preservationists testified in opposition to many of the proposed
alterations at the May 5th Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing. They
include: the Municipal Art Society, the Historic Districts Council, the
Beaux Arts Alliance, the Society for the Architecture of the City, the
Cityscape Foundation, the Queensborough Preservation League, and former
Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Anthony Tung and former Landmarks
Preservation Commission Chairman Gene Norman.

As this building complex is so important to the history of planning and
urban design in America, preservationists and other interested members of
the public are urged to express to the Landmarks Preservation Commission
that Rockefeller Center must not be insensitively altered.

Basic Information

The buildings were commissioned by John D. Rockefeller Jr. founder of
Riverside Church, the Cloisters, Rockefeller University & the restoration
of Colonial Williamsburg and Versailles] & his wife Abby Aldrich
Rockefeller [co-founder of MOMA, Folk & Modern Art collector]. Rockefeller
Center was designed by Raymond Hood, Harvey W. Corbett, and J. Andre
Fouilhoux, and their successors Wallace K. Harrison and Benjamin W. Morris.

Proposed Changes (not a complete list of what is proposed, but aspects
deemed most objectionable):

[1] Changes proposed for Sunken Plaza

Proposed: construct a reconfigured staircase on the East wall of the sunken
plaza to bring pedestrians down to the lower concourse – achieved by
raising the turn and descent point of a new North and South staircase on a
built-out plinth. Includes construction of a solid granite ‘railing’ as the
West wall of the new stair. The new stair’s Western edge would equal in
height the existing grade of Channel Gardens. This is coupled with the
re-location of two Paul Manship sculptures at the sides to the stairs where
garden planters now stand.

Effect: the intended view of Prometheus as one descends down the inclined
Channel Gardens will be blocked by three elements – the 3’6” raised level
at which the new stair begins, the new 3’6” solid granite wall to be sited
at this raised height at its Western edge, and the new position of the
sculptures where low planter beds currently exist. The gilded sculpture of
Prometheus, intentionally located at the ‘vanishing point’ of the Channel
Gardens, was designed to draw people into the plaza (like the pull of
gravity) towards the sculpture; the proposed alterations ruin that effect.
In addition, the new stairway creates a gaping hole at the skating-rink
level in the East wall underside of the gardens (to accommodate a new
entrance), making them appear suspended and artificial in a manner utterly
inconsistent with the overall planned textures of the Center.

[2] Change proposed for the Prometheus water fountain sculpture by Paul Manship

Proposed: alter the base of the sculpture, changing it from rectangle to
half-oval; move the sculpture forward about 2 or 3 feet; and build new
doorways on either side of it to allow entrance from the skating rink into
the concourse under Rockefeller Plaza. The proposed built-out box-like
entrances narrow the space in which the sculpture stands by 12 feet.

Effect: America’s most distinguished Art Deco sculptor has provided the
Center with an icon now known internationally. The sculpture acts as an
integral part of the view of the G.E. Building – its golden horizontal form
contrasts brilliantly with the soaring vertical shape of the G.E. tower. To
change the sculpture’s base from a rectangular shape to a half-circle
(likened to a soap dish by architectural historian David Lowe), and to
remove its open setting with two massive enclosing walls, is to irrevocably
reduce the visual impact this spectacular site-specific conception has on
the viewer. Combined with the wall and staircase changes outlined in Point
1 above, the proposal also marginalizes the figure considerably from its
pivotal role at the Center.

[3] Changes proposed for the storefront windows on Fifth Avenue

Proposed: enlarge the storefront windows on Fifth Avenue to a new
‘double-height’ configuration to increase retail allure of the stores;
horizontally expand the second story windows to line up with the widened
and heightened windows below.

Effect: the resulting glass expanses alter the entire appearance of the
Pavilion Buildings along Fifth Avenue, destroying the concept of a solid
base that grounds the soaring verticality of the building above. Currently,
the second story office windows are separated from the ground floor
commercial windows by a delicate carved stone reeded stringcourse. Above,
inset panels of carved stone with reeded inset vertical accent lines are
found between the pairs of sash windows. If the second story is transformed
into one sheet of horizontal glass, the subtle detailing will lose its
meaning, and the building’s base will lose its human scale and jewel-like
quality. The overall architectural effect would be to overwhelm the
buildings’ monumental main entrances by reducing their importance relative
to the storefronts; to isolate the Fifth Avenue facades from their
integrity with the Center; and to destroy Raymond Hood’s ‘modernist’
storefronts for a generic and probably passing phase in American retailing.
If Winston’s, Cartier’s, Saks, and Versace can be successful in historic
buildings with historic storefront windows, why not the shops in
Rockefeller Center ?

[4] Changes proposed for International Building at 630 Fifth Avenue (Atlas

Proposed: cut and remove limestone wall sections to create larger window
openings in the court surrounding the Atlas sculpture [designed by Lee
Lawrie (1877-1963)] to lighten and improve shopfront windows.

Effect: violates the interplay between the stone walls and the swelling
bronze mass of the sculpture. The austere and inspiring design would lose
its monumental enclosing limestone walls. The transparent glass effect
would obliterate the original bold design concept, and a watered-down
mediocre version would result. When entering the court and 630 Fifth one
would see opaque walls fitted with down-light spot fixtures in the new
windows, rather than the severe architectural setting of the serenely
austere limestone walls.

Note: Lee Lawrie trained and worked with Augustus St. Gaudens. He made
contributions to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He worked
extensively with Bertram G. Goodhue, and is perhaps most famous in New York
for the superb reredos figures in St. Thomas’s Church, Fifth Avenue. Lawrie
also designed the stunning Genius figure over the principal plaza doorway
to the G.E. Building.

[5] Change proposed for Palazzo d’Italia pavilion

Proposed: remove a site-specific commissioned Giacomo Manzu (1908-1991)
figural entrance sculpture, isolating it from the decorative panel above
it. Manzu is a world famous Italian artist highly regarded in Europe, and
his sculpture identifies the Palazzo d’Italia Pavilion. The plan is to move
it to an alternate site in the Center away from Fifth Avenue in order to
provide a three-doorway access configuration to the building.

Effect: irreparably alters the street elevation on Fifth Avenue in a manner
totally unsuitable for a designated landmark. The change will result in the
loss of the historic ‘Italian identity’ of the pavilion (the Italian
immigrant figure to be separated from the agrarian motif of grape-vines and
wheat stalks- symbolic of the earth’s fruitfulness above), and the needless
destruction of an important Manzu sculpture.

Note: MOMA has two portrait busts by this artist in their collection, St.
Peter’s Basilica Rome has a set of famous Doors of Death (1964-67) and the
Grotte Kerk in Rotterdam has War and Peace doors by the artist, among other
distinguished commissions.

Numerous preservation groups have strongly urged the Landmarks Preservation
Commission to prevent many of these changes from taking place. The present
owners of Rockefeller Center are fortunate to possess such a masterfully
designed complex, and only a far more sensitive and less intrusive series
of changes should be considered by the Commission.

You are urged to write the Landmarks Preservation Commission to express
those points described above which they feel they agree with. The buildings
of Rockefeller Center are very important to New York City and the Landmarks
Law was specifically designed to protect architectural icons such as
Rockefeller Center from changes like some of the ones contemplated. Feel
free to share this information with others.

Send e-mail to or write:

The Hon. Jennifer Raab, Chairman
Landmarks Preservation Commission
100 Old Slip
New York, New York 10005

Fax: 212-487-6796


No Inspector Calls
Rudy, HPD Idle White Housing Inspectors and Lawyers Dwindle
Village Voice, June 9, 1998

Rudy Giuliani's crime busting quality-of-life campaign is based on a
catchphrase: No broken windows. The slogan comes from a law
enforcement theory that petty offenses like vandalism invite more
serious crime. A few busted-out panes of glass lead to thuggery and
disorder and before you know it, you're in Murder City.

It's a theory that has shaped the mayor's policies on everything from
drug-dealing to hot dog vending. So it's surprising that the mayor
finds little use for the literal goal of no broken windows. The fact
is, since he's taken office, Giuliani has allowed the number of city
housing inspectors to remain profoundly inadequate, and his current
proposed budget is no exception. Worse still, the number of attorneys
who enforce the housing code on derelict landlords in the Department
of Housing Preservation and Development has dwindled by roughly half;
and the agency has done nothing to replace them.

"I think they"d like to simply eliminate all of the litigators
tomorrow," says one longtime housing attorney. "Frankly, I don't
think they want them to do anything."

Why would an administration that banks on law and order favor a lax
enforcement of its own housing code? Both the mayor's office and HPD
refused to answer questions. But several sources advance a theory
about the "big teeth and deep pockets" of the real estate industry,
which does not want to be hounded by inspectors and lawyers-- an
assessment that landlord lobbyist Joe Strasburg discounts. "If
someone's throwing their weight around, it's not us," says Strasburg,
who runs the city's largest landlord association.

Theories about any clandestine influence by landlords, however, are
unnecessary under Giuliani's HPD, since the mayor has made clear that
the agency's priority is not to rigorously enforce the law on
landlords, but to support owners and prevent abandonment. That policy
dovetails with the  mayor's aim of returning to the private sector
buildings that fell into city ownership when landlords defaulted.

"There's a strong reluctance to push owners to comply with housing
regulations," says Anne Pasmanick, director of the Community Training
and Resource Center. Avoiding enforcement "is a lot easier if you
don't have so many litigators around."

If the roots of the city's diminished code-enforcement effort are in
dispute, the results are not. "The message is that landlords can
pretty much let their buildings run down," says an HPD source, "and
not get caught."

Right now, HPD has 226 inspectors to examine the city's 2 million
rental apartments, down from 685 in the 1980s. In 1989, according to
a report by Public Advocate Mark Green, HPD did 409,000 inspections.
In 1997, mayoral reports show, the agency received 230,000 complaints
and completed 135,266 inspections. For fiscal 1999, the agency's goal
is down to 130,000.

And while HPD commissioner Richard Roberts recently testified at a
City Council hearing that his agency is "making a significant
investment" in code enforcement, that effort amounts to the hiring of
a mere six inspectors in addition to 38 hired over the past year.
Roberts said the agency's aim is to have 230 inspectors--about half
as many as sources say are required to do a serious job.

"Pardon me, but that's like spit in the bucket based on housing needs
in this city," says Terry DeFiore, who worked as an HPD inspector
from 1981 to 1988. Two hundred thirty inspectors is nothing I would
brag about. When I was there we had about 700, and I think we did a
really adequate job."

Joe Corso, president of the Allied Building Inspectors union, says
the current short~falling leaves his members "unable to even keep up
the basics of what's required." He says the inspection staff was
slashed after the city lost $8 million in state and federal funds
earlier this decade.

Now, housing advocates are asking the City Council to spend some of
the city's $2 billion surplus on inspectors and litigators.
Pasmanick's agency last week told a City Council panel that for $27
million, 600 inspectors could be hired. Jenny Laurie, Executive
Director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, argues that a boost
in inspectors will preserve housing and generate revenue through
fines. "More importantly,' says Laurie, "most landlords would
voluntarily correct violations because it would be more expensive not

The attrition of HPD attorneys is arguably more damaging than the
loss of inspectors. "We work hand in hand with these litigators,"
says Corso. "I'd rather see us hire 490 inspectors and 100 attorneys
than 600 inspectors. One of the big problems we have is that an
inspector goes out, sees conditions, sees the places kids are living,
and it's heart-wrenching especially when you write violations and go
back in six months and see the same situation."

Abbott Gorin, an HPD litigator who is also the administrator of the
Civil Service Bar Association, says the union's position is that the
agency "should be very proud of the work attorneys are doing under
very trying circumstances. Clearly we need to hire more attorneys."
Gorin is one of a team of one part-time and three full-time attorneys
responsible for covering all of Brooklyn. In all, HPD has about 20
attorneys to litigate against recalcitrant landlords. The shortfall
means the lawyers focus on assisting tenants who bring their own
lawsuits against landlords, instead of initiating HPD's own cases,
which generally have more serious consequences for landlords.

Gorin, for instance, represented the agency in a lawsuit against
Brooklyn landlord John Phillips, a former civil court judge whose
Bed-Stuy properties were so decrepit that HPD convinced a judge to
replace Phillips with a building administrator last December.
(Phillips was named one of the Voice's 10 Worst Landlords this
March.) Now, tenants have heat and a secure building, and other
repairs are being made.

"That would have never happened if not for HPD," says Brooklyn
Tenants' Council organizer Larry Jayson. "The litigation bureau is
what made it work."

In a March statement, HPD pledged to remain "the last line of
defense" against renegade landlords. It's a promise that leaves the
New York Public Interest Research Group's Mark Colon cold. Says
Colon: "That line of defense becomes a facade when the worst
landlords and the most dangerous situations are left undiscovered and


Code-Enforcement Campaign Gains Momentum
Tenant/Inquilino, June 1998, Met Council
By Kenny Schaeffer

[TenantNet Note: City Council recently passed its own budget that added 75
new housing inspectors, but the Mayor and City Council are still at war
over next year's budget, so the critical gain in inspectors is still at
risk. Contact your local City Councilmember and tell them not to back down
to the Mayor's demands -- and ask them to tell Speaker Peter Vallone not to
acquiesce to the Mayor.]

The movement to increase the city’s enforcement of housing-code violations
is gaining steam in the City Council.

So far, three members of the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee,
Helen Marshall (D-Queens), Guillermo Linares (D-Manhattan) and Stanley
Michels (D-Manhattan), have endorsed proposals to spend part of the city’s
$2 billion budget surplus on beefing up its staff of housing inspectors and
code-enforcement lawyers. The campaign was initiated by Met Council and
supported by the Queens League of United Tenants, the Legal Aid Society,
the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, the New York Public Interest
Research Group and the Harlem Tenants Council. The Community Service
Society, the City Project’s Alterbudget, and the Community Training
Resources Center have also called for increased housing code enforcement to
preserve New York’s endangered supply of affordable housing.

At Council hearings on May 14, the city’s housing commissioner, Richard
Roberts, confirmed that there are 3 million code violations outstanding on
apartment buildings in the city. Yet Mayor Giuliani’s proposed budget for
the 1999 fiscal year only includes funds for 230 housing inspectors. Ten
years ago, 700 inspectors were considered necessary for the city.

Other Councilmembers supporting the initiative include Democrats Stephen
DiBrienza of Brooklyn, Sheldon Leffler and Morty Povman of Queens, and
William Perkins, Margarita Lopez and Ronnie Eldridge of Manhattan.

Organizers expect to get additional support in the Bronx and in Brooklyn.
Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields has also endorsed increasing
spending on housing preservation. After a building on West 141st Street, in
her old City Council district, collapsed in 1996, killing one person, she
successfully sponsored an initiative requiring the city Department of
Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Buildings to
inform each other about violations observed by their respective inspectors.

The parts of the code-enforcement system that follow up on inspectors’
reports are equally undermanned. The budget contains funds for 38 lawyers
in the city’s housing-litigation bureau, which obtains court orders that
housing code violations be corrected (and occasionally seeks fines when
they are not)—but only 17 positions are filled. At the May 14 hearing, HPD
Commissioner Richard Roberts testified that he considered this adequate,
because the litigation bureau “handles 8,000 cases a year.”

But what Commissioner Roberts did not say is that these 8,000 cases are
“HP” cases, in which tenants sue both their landlord and the city in order
to get repairs. The city itself only brings 200 of its own cases each year,
despite receiving 500,000 complaints from tenants for conditions that
include no heat and hot water, collapsing ceilings, rats, leaks, holes in
the walls and floors, and exposed lead paint, which poisons thousands of
babies and toddlers every year.

A study released on April 28 by the federal Department of Housing and Urban
Development found that in New York City, 380,000 households, containing
more than a million people, live in “worst case” housing emergencies, which
it defined as paying more than half their total income for rent, living in
substandard housing, or both. These conditions affected 38% of all
households earning less than half the city median income.

Last December 16, the Council withdrew an ill-advised bill which would have
required the city to erase overdue code violations whenever owners simply
claimed to have cured them, with no city inspection to verify whether the
work was done. An audit conducted by Comptroller Alan Hevesi and State Sen.
Franz Leichter (D-Manhattan) had revealed that landlords lie 50% of the
time when they “self-certified” under the more limited provision of the law
now in effect. Even the New York Times applauded the wisdom of withdrawing
the measure in a December 30 editorial, and called on City Hall to revisit
the issue of code enforcement in the new year.

Several years ago, the Assembly’s former housing committee chair, Pete
Grannis, released a report that the city is losing hundreds of millions of
dollars by not collecting fines against scofflaw owners who do not correct
violations that have been recorded by city inspectors.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
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  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 16:56:49 -0400
Subject: Tenant Events: RGB 6/16; MBR 6/17; City Rally 6/20

Tenant Events this week:
RGB, MBR hearings, City-Wide Rally                        6/14/98

In this issue...

* RGB HEARINGS -- June 16
* RGB Poor Tax (part 1)
* RGB Poor Tax (part 2)
* RGB Research Finds Landlords’ Costs Way Down

* Maximum Base Rent Public Hearing
* DHCR Recommends 3.8% MBR for ’98-’99

* Tenant Rally Day 6/20


Rent Guidelines Board Public Hearings

The NYC Rent Guidelines Board will hold hearings on the
proposed guidelines of 2% for a one year lease and 4%
for a two year lease and a "Poor Tax" of $20 on rents
below $400 per month. Despite the fact that landlords'
costs went up 1/10th of 1 percent last year (a
statistical zero), Giuliani's RGB wants increases for
the owners... especially in the lower rent areas of the
city where low income tenants live. If the mayor and
the owners get their way, all affordable rent regulated
housing will soon be gone.

Public Hearings will be held at Brooklyn Borough Hall,
2nd floor, 209 Joralemon St. (at Court St.).  Tenants
can sign up to testify in advance by calling the RGB at
212/385-2934 ext 11.

Tuesday, June 16

Hotels & SRO's
  1:00-3:00 p.m.

Apartments and Lofts
  3:30-10:00 p.m.

Tenants should plan to attend the final vote. At this
meeting, the board decides what the guidelines will be
for rent stabilized leases commencing between Oct. 1,
1998 and Sept. 30, 1999.

Vote on Final Rent Guidelines
Monday, June 22, 5-9 p.m.
  Brooklyn Borough Hall, 2nd floor
  209 Joralemon St. (At Court St.)


Rent Guidelines Board Targets Poorest Tenants

In Monopoly, the “Pay Poor Tax of $15” Chance card is one of the least
damaging debits in the game. But in a city where landlords are charging
Park Place rents and tenants can barely afford the likes of Baltic Avenue,
$15 a month can be serious.

On May 7, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board voted 6-2 to propose a
“poor tax” of $15 per month on apartments renting for $400 or less, in
addition to the standard renewal increases applicable to all tenants. On
June 22, at Brooklyn Borough Hall, the RGB will vote on the final
guidelines, which will affect about 700,000 rent-stabilized families when
they renew their leases or sign new ones between October 1, 1998 and
September 30, 1999.

The poor tax has been in effect since 1995, meaning that any apartment
eligible for it now has already had at least two surcharges of $15 or $20
built into the permanent rent.

The clear impact of these increases is to eliminate the stock of low-rent
apartments, without regard for what will happen to the families living in
them or who need them. According to a survey released April 28 by the
federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the nation lost
900,000 low-rent apartments between 1991-1994—and New York City has the
worst housing crisis in the country.

But Edward Hochman, appointed chair of the RGB by Mayor Giuliani, has in
previous years stated that he believes he must vote for rent increases
simply to keep profits inflated, and that the RGB cannot take into
consideration the consequences its actions will have on poor families and
senior citizens in New York.

Not looking at the foreseeable consequences of your actions is the
law-school definition of negligence. There are 600,000 households in the
city living at or below the poverty level, and many of them live in
rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments in the five boroughs—the
apartments that will be affected by the supplemental increase. The “poor
tax” bears no reasonable relation to any legitimate governmental purpose.
The RGB also proposed hitting all rent-stabilized tenants with 2% increases
for 1-year leases and 4% increases for 2-year renewals, even though owners
costs have stayed the same, fuel costs are down 15% and mortgages rates are
at an all-time low.

Landlords don’t need these increases and tenants cannot afford them. Income
for the bottom four-fifths of all families has decreased 16% in the last
two decades, and New York City’s unemployment rate is almost 9%. Rent
levels should not rise automatically with no rational basis for it.

Under the weakening of rent laws last year in Albany, vacant apartments can
now be deregulated virtually at the owner’s option, by claiming
“improvements” which drive the rent above $2,000 a month. For those
apartments which remain subject to rent stabilization, landlords can now
charge new tenants an extra 18% for a 1-year lease and 20% for a 2-year
lease, and more if the previous tenant lived there for eight years or longer.

These vacancy increases are particularly destabilizing and threaten the
already inadequate supply of affordable housing. They permanently inflate
rents, even though the nominal losses by owners from the transition between
tenants are already factored into the general lease-renewal increases, as
the RGB’s staff counts them as part of the industry’s aggregate costs.

Vacancy increases also give owners a strong incentive to displace existing
tenants, at a time when tenants’ ability to defend themselves from eviction
is jeopardized by Governor Pataki’s veto of funds for civil legal services
and for the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, which provides
information to the 90% of tenants who cannot obtain counsel in Housing Court.

Before the RGB’s final vote on June 22, there will be a public hearing,
also at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Tuesday, June 16 (see below). Tenants and
supporters of affordable housing should sign up to testify by calling the
board at (212) 385-2934 ext. 11 or just showing up on June 16.

A large tenant turnout is needed on June 16 and June 22. For more
information, call (212) 693-0553.


‘Pay Poor Tax Of $15’ RGB Proposes Another Hit on the City’s Poorest Tenants
By Steven Wishnia

Despite its own figures showing that landlords costs’ increased by only
0.1% last year, the Rent Guidelines Board voted May 7 to support continued
rent increases for 700,000 of the city’s rent-stabilized apartments.

After the board had rejected several previous proposals, chairman Edward
Hochman, eager to go home, urged it to suggest continuing last year’s
guidelines “just to have something on the table.” The preliminary
guidelines approved by a 6-2 vote include a 2% increase on a one-year
lease, 4% on a two-year lease, and a $15 surcharge on apartments renting
for $400 or less. Tenant representatives Kenneth Rosenfeld and David Pagan
dissented; afterwards, Rosenfeld called the proposed increase “disgusting,
especially as an excuse to end the meeting.”

The RGB will set its final guidelines on June 22. Unless it votes a higher
rate, the surcharge on vacant apartments will be the 20% set by the 1997
state law.

Tenant groups plan to focus on trying to eliminate the “poor tax” low-rent
surcharge, which the RGB has imposed for the last four years. In the last
six years, said Rosenfeld, the number of apartments renting for $400 or
less has dropped by 60%. “Haven’t these people paid enough?” asked
Rosenfeld. “What are we trying to do, drive them out of the city?” “Yes,”
shouted someone in the audience.

The board’s two landlord representatives both argued that there’s no
evidence that most of the tenants paying under $400 were poor. (According
to the 1993 federal Housing and Vacancy Survey, 80% of them made under
$20,000 a year, and one-third were paying more than half their income in

The rejected proposals ranged from new landlord member Vincent Castellano’s
move for massive increases on low-rent apartments to Rosenfeld’s bid for a
rent freeze. Rosenfeld argued that the board has granted rent increases
averaging 26% over the last three years,while tenants’ incomes went up only
1% and landlords’ operating costs rose by 0.1% last year, according to RGB

“Given the absolute crisis that most of the people in the city are facing,
the fairest thing is a rent freeze,” he said. The board turned it down 6-2,
with only Pagan joining him.

Other preliminary guidelines include increases of 1.5% and 3% for loft
tenants renewing their leases, approved 5-3; and no increase for SRO
hotels; also approved 5-3. The board also voted 6-2 for a preliminary
fair-market rent guideline for vacated rent-controlled apartments of 40%
over the old maximum base rent or 50% over the old maximum collectable
rent, whichever is greater. (This guideline is used to determine whether a
new tenant moving into those apartments can challenge the rent increase as
excessive; as very few tenants ever contest such increases, it’s one of the
most arcane areas of rent-regulation policy.)

Much of the intensity that has marked RGB meetings in the past—hundreds of
angry, chanting tenants facing off with smaller numbers of belligerent
small landlords—was absent. Only about 50 people, mostly tenant supporters,
showed up. The 1997 Albany deal to renew the rent laws eliminated one of
the main areas of contention, by allowing landlords vacancy increases
bigger than any ever set by the RGB.

“The law took a lot of the steam out,” says David Pagan.

The 1997 law, by adding a 20% minimum vacancy surcharge to the already
existing loopholes of apartment-renovation increases and weak state
enforcement against illegal overcharges, has moved the city close to a
“decontrol-recontrol” system like San Francisco’s. There, landlords can
charge whatever they can get for vacant apartments, but face strict limits
on how much they can raise rents on tenants in place.

Shifting the brunt of rent increases to vacant apartments has several
political advantages. Landlords who own enough apartments to take advantage
of turnover can collect massive increases; most tenants don’t have to face
the consequences until they want to move (although landlords have a strong
incentive to oust them, especially the elderly); and politicians don’t have
to face the anger of tenants threatened with large across-the-board
increases. The new law also benefits Mayor Giuliani, who has drawn heat for
dictating large vacancy increases to the RGB in the past, especially the 9%
surcharge in 1996. Now, with 20% vacancy increases enshrined in state law,
responsibility is out of the mayor’s hands.

Unlike the last three years, there appeared to be little pressure on the
board from the Mayor. In fact, says Rosenfeld, Giuliani’s indifference to
the process this year bordered on contempt. One seat remains vacant, and
the full board did not meet until April 28, nine days before the vote on
the preliminary guidelines. “The new members have no idea what’s going on,”
he said, adding that Giuliani’s delays in filling vacant seats showed “an
incredible lack of concern for the process and disrespect for the public.”

If the Mayor is showing contempt for the process, his choice of Vincent
Castellano for the vacant landlord seat demonstrates it. Castellano, a
radio talk-show host, seems to exist in a Reaganoid anecdotal reality,
where rent-controlled tenants paying $26 a month in Greenwich Village
typify the way the system works as much as welfare mothers who drive
Cadillacs and buy caviar with food stamps.

“The first priority is the health of the local real-estate industry,” he
declared, calling it “unconscionable” that 125,000 tenants still pay less
than $400 a month. He then went into a spiel about how rent-stabilized
tenants can avoid ever paying any increases by some unspecified “abuse of
the lease-renewal process,” apparently by not returning lease-renewal
forms. “This man is a joke,” shouted a heckler.

Castellano differs with the conventional real-estate wisdom in one key
area: He believes that large vacancy increases are bad policy, as they
create “rent skewing”; he’d rather see large increases on tenants in place.
His proposal for massive increases on low-rent apartments—$150 a month on
apartments renting for $100 or less, $100 on the $100-$300 range, and $50
on $300-$400 units—even made Harold Lubell, the other landlord
representative, wince. Lubell abstained, and it lost 6-1.

While one seat on the board remains empty, it is unlikely that the June
session will see a new vacancy-increase scheme. Ken Rosenfeld counts four
solid votes against such a proposal: himself, Pagan, and public members
Agustin Rivera and Bartholomew Carmody. Rivera may also prefer lower
increases on renewal leases, he adds.

Both of the two new public members are accountants, but Carmody is
considered more sympathetic to tenants than Edward Weinstein. Both are
reluctant to grant increases too far over the Consumer Price Index, says
Pagan. However, Weinstein strongly supported the low-rent surcharge, and
suggested at one point that he favored completely decontrolling vacant
rent-controlled apartments.

Weinstein refused to talk to Tenant/Inquilino.


Rent-Guidelines Machinations
Research Finds Landlords’ Costs Way Down, But New Vacancy-Increase Schemes
By William Rowen, from Met Council Tenant/Inquilino

With the city Rent Guidelines Board scheduled to vote May 7 on preliminary
rent guidelines for 1998-99, the stage is being set for the annual battle
over how much more tenants in the city's one million rent-stabilized
apartments, hotel rooms, and lofts will have to pay.

Mayor Giuliani has filled three of the four empty seats on the nine-member
board, two of the three vacant "public" seats and the vacant landlord seat.
And despite three reports indicating that landlords' costs are down and
profits up, board chair Edward S. Hochman has hinted that the RGB may allow
vacancy increases above and beyond the 20 percent imposed by the
Pataki-Bruno-Silver triad last year.

The final guidelines, which will be set on June 22, will go into effect
Oct. 1, and cover all leases from then through Sept. 30, 1999.

Giuliani filled the landlord seat vacated by Joseph Forstadt with cable-TV
show host Vincent Castellano. Castellano, who for a number of years has
produced the virulently anti-tenant "Real Estate Nightmares," is known for
his Reaganesque anecdotes about troublesome tenants and oppressed owners.
He has also written articles for Real Estate News, the Queens Tribune, and
the Small Property Owners of New York.

The new public members are Bartholomew Carmody, a certified public
accountant in private practice and a native New Yorker living in Peter
Cooper Village, and Edward A. Weinstein, also a CPA, who is a partner with
the national accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche LLP. Weinstein also lives
in Manhattan. The Mayor is reportedly considering Queens title-insurance
attorney John Umland, who is awaiting clearance in a background check, for
the remaining public seat.

Even if Umland is not appointed, Giuliani has significantly altered the
composition of the board, which two years ago had three women and two
African-Americans. The current eight members are all men, six white and two
Latino. Umland is white.

The board did not actually meet until April 28, canceling two scheduled
sessions at the last moment because Hochman could not attend. On April 7,
the board members and public assembled, but Hochman never showed up or
notified anyone he did not intend to come. Later, a source said that he had
written down the wrong date in his datebook.

After the April 28 meeting, tenant advocates said that Carmody and
Weinstein asked insightful questions of staff and a panel of tenant
attorneys who gave a presentation on the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997.

Interest Rates Down

The RGB received three reports from staff researchers: the 1998 Mortgage
Survey, the 1998 Income and Expense Study, and the 1998 Price Index of
Operation Costs. The results of all three show that landlords' costs are
down and profits up.

The Mortgage Survey showed that mortgage interest rates, at 8.6 percent,
are the lowest in 16 years, falling from 10.1 percent in 1995, and mortgage
terms and availability continue the trend of recent years in favor of the
landlord borrowers. Lenders reported that 25 to 100 percent of their
outstanding loans have been refinanced at lower rates. This survey also
found that landlords' average monthly operating costs were only $301 per
apartment, a mere 47 percent of the average monthly rent of $645, according
to the Census Bureau's 1996 Housing and Vacancy Survey.

The 1998 Income and Expense Study, based on two-year old city Department of
Finance data collected from landlords, showed that landlords' costs
increased slightly more than their income, but still resulted in an
increase in net operating income in stabilized buildings of 2.3 percent.
However, this report stressed that its figures should not be interpreted to
mean that landlords did poorly, noting that its data came from 1995-96, a
year marked by an unusually cold winter and a spike in fuel costs.

Cost Increases Hit 30-Year Low

The 1998 Price Index of Operation Costs (PIOC), the most important index
used in setting the rent guidelines, came in at 0.1 percent--the lowest
increase in the 29-year history of the system. Fuel and taxes are the two
main components of the index; fuel prices and consumption dropped 15
percent, owing to the mild 1997-98 winter, and taxes increased by a very
small 1.2 percent. Insurance prices also declined.

Calculating the "commensurate rent increase" needed to compensate landlords
for increased operating costs over the last year, the report said there
should be no increase for one-year lease renewals and 1.1 percent for
two-year renewals.

The board also uses two other ways to interpret the index. One, called "net
revenue," adjusts the guidelines to balance that two-thirds of tenants
renew their leases for two years--and concluded that no increase was

The other, Consumer Price Index Adjusted Net Operating Income (or "CPI
Adjusted NOI"), factors in the effects of inflation on landlords' costs.
Using that formula, the guidelines would be 0.5 and 1.5 percent for one-
and two-year lease renewals, respectively.

Vacancy Increases: Son of Scam?

The RGB in the past 15 years has invariably allowed rent increases higher
than could be justified by the price index. To justify this, the board has
cited "qualitative" factors, some of which had some basis in reality, and
at other times expressed its intent to phase out rent protections as its
justification. The latter is a live factor in this year's deliberations,
given that Mayor Giuliani--who has tightly controlled the RGB's decisions
in the last three years--doesn't have to face city voters again, and has
received significant contributions from the landlord lobby as he ponders
running for higher office.

Last year, when the state set the surcharge on vacant apartments at 20
percent for two-year leases, the RGB, after consulting with city lawyers,
decided to not set an additional vacancy allowance. This year, this issue
has resurfaced with a vengeance. Chairman Ed Hochman has said publicly that
the board has the authority to allow higher vacancy increases.

One possibility is that the city could follow the suburban boards which
have adopted limited vacancy decontrol, allowing landlords to raise rents
to match the most expensive comparable apartment in the building. The RGB
approved a similar scheme in its 1995 preliminary guidelines, but a storm
of tenant protests forced them to drop it.

The board has not yet released its Tenant Affordability Study, but many of
the figures are already known and show that the affordability of rental
housing in New York City is continuing to decline. One key statistic is the
median rent-to-income ratio, measuring the percentage of tenants' income
that goes to rent. In 1996, half of rent-stabilized tenants paid over 32
percent of their income in rent. The federal government considers more than
30 percent to be unaffordable.

A recently released study by the federal Department of Housing and Urban
Development, reported in the Daily News on April 29, stated that "New York
City has the most serious affordable-housing shortage in the country," and
that the "city has a very high number of low-income renters paying
extremely high rents."

No One Is Safe From Son of Scam

Former RGB director Tim Collins, now a tenant lawyer in private practice,
said that all the landlord and tenant data indicate that "it's never been
louder or clearer that this is the time for no rent increase in New York
City." He explained that with the windfall that landlords are getting, they
are not investing in their properties and improving them, except when they
can pass renovation costs on to tenants with permanent rent increases.

"The only thing straining landlords is the weight of the cash they carry to
their banks," he quipped. "While tenants continue to lose ground, landlords
are getting record-high net operating income."

The end of the great 1997 rent-regulation battle may have lulled tenants
into thinking that they are safe for now. But one lesson of 1997 is that
landlords and the politicians they buy access to will undo tenants' rights
in any way they can. The Rent Guidelines Board bears careful watching.

The Rent Guidelines Board meetings will hold its required hearings on June
16 and 18, and the final meeting to set the permanent guidelines on June 22.


Maximum Base Rent Public Hearing

The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal will conduct a
public hearing in order to set the MBR for rent controlled tenants for the
1998-99 cycle.

The Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building
163 West 125th Street, 2nd floor, Art Gallery
  Wednesday, June 17th
  10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

To pre-register, call the office of Edward Blanco, Bureau Chief, Rent Control
at 718-262-4816.

You can also call this number to get the DHCR report on the recommended MBR
for 98/99. The preliminary standard adjustment factor for the 1998/99 Maximum
Base Rent is 3.8%.

Every rent-controlled tenant should plan to attend and testify.  In this, an
election year, rent-controlled tenants must let the state housing agency know
how vital it is to keep the low MBR and to use the modern MBR formula called
for in Local Law 73 of 1997.  For information, call Jenny at Met Council,


DHCR Recommends 3.8% MBR for ’98-’99
By Jenny Laurie

The state Division of Housing and Community Renewal recently announced a
preliminary Maximum Base Rent factor of 3.8% for the 1998/1999 cycle.

This is great news for rent-controlled tenants, because it means that the
state housing agency has decided to follow the fiercely disputed New York
City law enacted in the fall of 1997. (The state will also follow the 3%
factor for 1996/97, which landlords had unsuccessfully challenged in
court.) Thanks to this decision, about half the rent-controlled tenants in
the MBR system will not have to pay the entire 7.5% rent increase in both
1998 and 1999.

The DHCR will hold a hearing on the 3.8% increase on June 17.

The MBR factor determines the increase for the theoretical ceiling rent for
tenants covered by rent control (those who have lived continuously in their
apartments since 1971, in buildings built before 1947). The factor raises
the ceiling rent by the amount the state calculates owners’ costs have gone
up, and ensures them an 8.5% return on capital value. Rent-controlled
tenants pay a 7.5% rent increase (called their Maximum Collectible Rent)
each year until their MCR reaches their MBR. After it reaches the ceiling,
the rent they pay will only go up by the MBR factor.

The 1998/99 factor measures landlords’ costs in the years between 1995 and
1997. For tenants whose rent had reached the ceiling in 1995—about half the
tenants in the system—this new decision means that their rent will go up 3%
for 1996, nothing in 1997, 3.8% for 1998 and nothing in 1999. The other
half will continue to pay the 7.5% in each year, because their MCR is far
below their MBR.

Local Law 73, passed in September 1997, requires the state to use a
modernized version of the formula that determines the factor. Litigation
and lobbying over the issue has been continuous since early 1996, when
DHCR—using this version of the formula—announced that the 1996/97 MBR
factor would be 3%.

Last March 27, a State Supreme Court judge in Kingston rejected a lawsuit
by landlord groups requesting that the agency use an older, outdated
formula, which would have resulted in a 32.4% MBR factor for 1996/97.
Following that decision, rent-controlled tenants, at the urging of Met
Council activist Paula Glatzer and others, called upon Governor Pataki to
urge that the lower MBR factor be used.

The issue is so hotly fought over because so much is at stake. Landlords
sued over the use of the modern formula in early 1996 after the state had
been using it for several years; they protested only when DHCR set the MBR
factor at 3%, after years of double-digit increases. High MBR factors allow
owners to get very high increases from rent-controlled tenants, most of
whom are elderly and on fixed incomes (median age of 70; median income of
$12,000 per year). If the increase forces tenants to move, then the vacancy
allows the owners to either get much higher rents from the first
rent-stabilized tenant or to decontrol the apartment completely.

Tenants were able to persuade the City Council and the mayor, in a campaign
initiated by Stanley Panesoff of the Community Training and Resource
Center, to pass Local Law 73 after the owners won the second round of the
court battle—and tenants received notices telling them that the 1996/97
factor would be 32.4% and that many of them owed hundreds or thousands of
dollars in back rent. The city Department for the Aging supported the law
because the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption program subsidizes
17,000 controlled tenants and the 32.4% increase would have cost the city
millions in tax abatements to owners.

Maximum Base Rent Public Hearing

     Wednesday, June 17 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
     Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building
     163 West 125th Street, 2nd floor, Art Gallery

The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal will conduct a
public hearing in order to set the MBR factor for rent-controlled tenants
for the 1998-99 cycle.

To pre-register, call the office of Edward Blanco, Bureau Chief for Rent
Control, at (718) 262-4816. You can also call this number to get the DHCR
report on the 3.8% recommended MBR factor for 98/99.

Every rent-controlled tenant should plan to attend and testify. In this, an
election year, rent-controlled tenants must let the state housing agency
know how vital it is to keep the low MBR and to use the modern MBR formula
called for in Local Law 73 of 1997.

For more information, call Jenny at Met Council, (212) 693-0553.



Saturday, June 20th
Noon to 3 PM
Union Square Park (14th and Union Sq. West)

Thought our rent regulations were safe until the year 2003?
Think Again

Thanks to Assembly Speaker Shelden Silver and Assemblymember
Vito Lopez (BK, chair, Assembly Housing Committee), the Rent
Regulation system is virtually defunct (calling it dysfunctional
would be kind--see below).

City Councilmember Margarita Lopez
State Assemblymember Scott Stringer
State Assemblymember Jeffrey Aubrey
James Butler, Local 420 Public Hospital Employees Union
Penny LaForest, Citywide Tenants Coalition

Sponsored by Belnord Tenants Assoc., Chelsea Coalition on Housing, Coalition
for a District 2 Alternative (CODA), East Side Tenants Coalition, Harlem
Tenants Council, Lower Washington Heights Neighborhood Assoc., Park Terrace
Tenants, Queens League of United Tenants, Riverside-Edgecomb Neighborhood
Assoc., Skyview Tenants (BX), SRO Tenants United, West Side Tenants Union
and others. For info call (212) 862-8958 or (212)822-8231.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 17:43:53 -0400
Subject: DHCR Sigmund/Iveli Harassment Case resumes 6/16

DHCR Sigmund/Iveli Harassment Case resumes 6/16

The DHCR will resume prosecuting notorious landlords Robert Sigmund and
Thomas Iveli (Baychester Shopping Center,Inc.) for 26 claims of harrassment
on June 16, 1998 at 10:00 am.  This case is considered to be the DHCR's
most significant case of the decade.  The case has been on hold for almost
4 months due to landlord shenanigans and this case has been put on hold
previously for various other reasons.  All are invited to watch the DHCR in
action (since as we know they generally do nothing except give false
hopes.)  The West 22nd Street Tenants Association would like to have as
many people come to this as possible to show everyone at the DHCR as well
as Gov. Pataki who has been put on notice, that we expect the DHCR to do
its job and prosecute appropriately for harassment in this case and in others.

Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR)
25 Beaver St.

For more information please contact Alissa Rosenberg at


Manton helps out Maltese
from Crains Insider, June 15, 1998

Insiders say Rep. Tom Manton, the Queens Democratic chairman, is trying to
discourage Art Beroff, a politically-ambitious Queens school board member,
from challenging state Sen. Serphin Maltese, R-Queens, in the November
election. Some Democrats believe Mr. Maltese could be vulnerable because he
backed Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and his pro-landlord position in
last year's rent control battle. Mr. Beroff, a financial consultant who
could fund his own campaign, would make a credible candidate. But Mr.
Maltese is chairman of the Queens GOP Party and there is an unwritten
agreement in Queens that the parties do not back strong challengers against
the other party's leader. Mr. Manton, for example, hasn't faced a tough GOP
foe in six years.

Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 08:42:35 -0400
Subject: Hearing to Reopen Coliseum Exhibition Space


New York City Council Committee on Economic Development will hold
a hearing on Thursday, June 18, 1998, at 1:00 p.m, in the
Committee Room, City Hall, 2nd floor, Manhattan. regarding
Council Resolution 277 calling upon the MTA to reopen the
NY Coliseum exhibition hall for use by exhibitors.

Resolution No. 277

By Council Members Eldridge and Duane:

Whereas, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) issued a Request
for Proposal (RFP) for the development of the Coliseum site in
July of 1996; and

Whereas, the MTA originally planned to announce a developer for
the Coliseum site in July of 1997; and

Whereas, the July 1997 announcement was postponed for eight months,
and in March 1998 the MTA issued an amended RFP for the site; and

Whereas, the MTA discontinued use of the exhibition space in
January of 1998; and

Whereas, there is currently a shortage of exhibition space in the
City of New York; and

Whereas, Exhibitors want to use the Coliseum on a month to month
basis and have petiioned the MTA and the Mayor to reopen the
exhibition hall; and

Whereas jobs and wages have been lost in the months since the
Coliseum has been closed to the dismay of the employees; and

Whereas the MTA loses an estimated amount of $30,000 to $50,000
a day in revenues as a result of the closure of the Coliseum,
which could be used to support the transit system; and

Whereas the New York Times reported on April 30, 1998 that the
MTA does not plan to turn the property over to the selected
developer until the spring of 1999; now therefore, let it be

RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of New York calls
on the MTA to reopen the New York Coliseum exhibition hall
pending thes selection of a developer of the site.

Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 09:49:44 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online 6/17/98

Tenants Online                                           6/17/98

In this issue...

* Remember: Tenant Rally Day Saturday, 6/20
* Housekeeping issues
* Letters
* Rent Board to Tenants: Take a Hike, (Voice)
* In Booming Economy, Poor Still Struggle to Pay the Rent (Times)



Saturday, June 20th -- Noon to 3 PM
Union Square Park (14th and Union Sq. West)

Thought our rent regulations were safe until the year 2003?
Think Again

Thanks to Assembly Speaker Shelden Silver and Assemblymember
Vito Lopez (BK, chair, Assembly Housing Committee), the Rent
Regulation system is virtually defunct.

City Councilmember Margarita Lopez
State Assemblymember Scott Stringer
State Assemblymember Jeffrey Aubrey
James Butler, Local 420 Public Hospital Employees Union
Penny LaForest, Citywide Tenants Coalition

Sponsored by Belnord Tenants Assoc., Chelsea Coalition on Housing, Coalition
for a District 2 Alternative (CODA), East Side Tenants Coalition, Harlem
Tenants Council, Lower Washington Heights Neighborhood Assoc., Park Terrace
Tenants, Queens League of United Tenants, Riverside-Edgecomb Neighborhood
Assoc., Skyview Tenants (BX), SRO Tenants United, West Side Tenants Union
and others. For info call (212) 862-8958 or (212)822-8231.



Once in a blue moon, we hear people accusing us of spam or of clogging up
their email. This list is not unsolicited. If any of our messages come in
as attachments, that's usually on AOL and a problem with AOL's software
(sorry to burst the bubble, but neither AOL or WebTV are not the internet,
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TenantNet Web Forum

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problems are cleared up, but if you notice anything wierd, let us know.



One reader writes:

"Dear Friends, You have my sincere admiration and heartfelt gratitude. I'm
a lifetime resident of Rochdale co-ops. Finding my home at Penn South
threatened by the Board's reckless spending, I went to the City Council
hearing to protest its rent increases. Picture my surprise at discovering a
"hearing" choreographed by the Board! A tenant's association gives  vital
service, to maintain our civic health."

And from another:

"The real thanks go to the Republican controlled Senate, Pataki and Damato.
I know that people are angry at the legislation and were shut out but by
failing to place the blame on the true culprits misses the point. It allows
tenants to feel okay about voting for Republicans who do not share our view
on affordable housing. That is not an alternative. Pataki and Bruno pushed
the envelope last year and our side caved in. This is true. But Lopez and
Silver were not the enemy."

Editorial note: TenantNet's position is that although many Republicans,
such as Pataki, Bruno and D'Amato, are wolves in wolves clothing, machine
Democrats such as Silver and Lopez are wolves in sheep clothing. They,
along with former Governor Mario Cuomo and many, many others, often stand
up to the plate and tell tenants how much they love us, but behind our
backs they either ignore the tenants' plight, undermine the system, or
blatantly work in the landlords' interest. Such are Silver and Lopez, but
they are just two of many. The "enemy from within" is often more dangerous.


Village Voice, June 17, 1998
by J.A. Lobbia

For landlords, the news from the city's Rent Guidelines Board is good:
rents are up, the market is tight, and the costs of most items, from fuel
to push brooms, is down. For tenants, the reports are mixed: about 9000 new
apartments are coming on line, but most are high-rent. More tenants have
work, but many are competing for lower-paying jobs in a market where rent
hikes continue to outpace wage raises.

The news will probably continue its current trajectory--upbeat for
landlords, and mixed to poor for tenants--after next week's vote at the
RGB, the agency that sets annual rent levels for the city's 1,052,300
stabilized apartments.

Though no law requires that the RGB hike rents, never in its 30-year
history has it done anything but that. This year will likely be no
exception: the board is considering a 2 per cent hike for tenants who sign
a one-year lease, and 4 per cent for a two-year lease. The rates apply to
leases beginning after October 1, 1998. The board's final vote is at 10
p.m. on Monday, June 22.

Other proposals include a $15 supplemental monthly fee on apartments
renting for $400 and less, and no hike for vacant apartments beyond the 20
per cent granted by the state legislature. The measures are identical to
the rates adopted by the board last year, and were proposed by RGB chair Ed
Hochman as a ''starting point'' after no consensus could be reached at a
contentious May meeting.

(Indeed, this year the RGB has worked under conditions that make it seem
like a stepchild. It wasn't until May that Mayor Rudy Giuliani filled three
of four vacancies, forcing the board to scrap several meetings for lack of
a quorum. Hochman had already truncated the board's schedule and whittled
the usual two public hearings to one. At press time, the mayor was almost
ready to fill the remaining vacancy, avoiding a tie vote. ''It's
ridiculous,'' says one board member. ''How can they expect this person in
good faith to get up to speed in so little time? They just want him to vote
the way City Hall tells him to.'')

While the proposed rent levels might seem a modest pocket-liner for
landlords and an arguably moderate rise for tenants, they beg a fundamental
question: Why give landlords an increase when their costs are stable and
the market robust? This year's studies of the rental market by the RGB
staff found good financial conditions for landlords on virtually all
fronts. The key study, called the Price Index of Operating Cost (PIOC),
measures landlords' costs for things like insurance, fuel, toilet seats,
taxes, and lawyers, and found they rose a scant 0.1 per cent--a statistical

''A 2 or 4 per cent rent hike is at least 20 to 40 times more than
landlords would be justified in getting based on the PIOC,'' says Ken
Rosenfeld, one of two tenant representatives on the RGB. ''The unfortunate
thing is that many tenants appear to be relieved at the idea of 2 and 4 per
cent, even though it's totally contrary to the facts before us. In this
case, the rational result would be a rent freeze. That's not a political
thing I'm saying because I represent tenants; it's a rational fact.''

Vince Castellano, who is one of two landlord representatives on the board
and who advocates primarily for small landlords, calls the proposal
''rational'' and ''on track.'' While landlord representatives on the board
wanted rent hikes of 4 and 8 per cent for one-and two-year leases,
Castellano says he's more concerned about the ''low-rent supplement''
(tenant advocates call it a poor tax), in which the board usually adds $15
or $20 a month to rents under $400. ''My proposal is to raise the rent $100
on apartments that rent for $100,'' says Castellano. Apartments renting for
$400 would be raised by $50.

''I had no choice but to go against it,'' David Pagan, the RGB's second
tenant representative, said of even the $15 low-rent supplement. ''I just
don't feel comfortable doing that to the lowest end of the renters.''

Indeed, in a sea of giddy news about the current booming market, an RGB
study of tenant income and affordability offered sobering data: government
cuts to welfare and housing programs have eroded an already limited rental
supply, and even with last year's additional 54,000 new jobs, sectors that
are hiring--like construction and the service industries--are paying less.
>From 1992 to 1995, the median rent for stabilized apartments jumped 14 per
cent, while the income of rent-stabilized tenants slipped 1 per cent. And
among single adults, homelessness is steadily rising, with shelters taking
in 7096 men and women on a typical night.

''The extra $15 will come from people's food budgets,'' says Pagan, who is
the executive director of Los Sures, a nonprofit agency that owns and
manages about 1500 apartments in Williamsburg. ''I see it every day, people
making minimum wage or well below. I try to understand what owners are
saying because we also manage buildings. But I'm here to represent the
people who can't make it.''

Pagan laments that the landlords who typically attend RGB hearings own
small amounts of property, ''but most apartments are not owned by small
landlords.'' Indeed, about 70 per cent of all apartments are owned by about
12 per cent of all landlords. Castellano, too, complains that the RGB fails
to address the diverse population among both landlords and tenants,
treating big owners and rich renters the same as struggling landlords and

''Are there poor people out there paying too much?'' Castellano asks.
''Sure, but not as much as the tenant representatives would have you
believe. Is the market going gangbusters for landlords? Yeah, on the East
Side and in Soho, absolutely. But for the rest of the schnooks out there,
life is still a struggle. It's a tale of two cities.''


In Booming Economy, Poor Still Struggle to Pay the Rent
New York Times, June 16, 1998

WASHINGTON -- Despite the economy's robust growth, low-income families
continue to face extreme problems in the most basic of economic
transactions: paying the rent.

Two studies released in the past two months have found that, unlike past
economic recoveries, the boom times of the mid-1990s have done nothing to
ease the housing problems of the poor. Indeed, the problem may have grown

Though housing costs vary widely by region, the severe and growing shortage
of affordable apartments persists from east to west; in central cities,
suburbs and rural areas, and among all racial and ethnic groups. The new
data suggest that, through boom or bust, the escalating gap between the
incomes of needy renters and their shelter costs has become an abiding
feature of the modern economy.

The study released on Monday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,
a Washington research and advocacy group, added fresh details to the
discouraging picture. The study, which covered the expansion years of 1993
to 1995, found that unlike the economic expansion of the 1980s, when the
rental burdens of the poor lightened, this time they showed no improvement.

In 1993, 4.1 million poor families spent more than half their income on
rent and utilities, the study found. By 1995 that figure had grown to 4.4

Similarly, in 1993, the count of needy families outnumbered affordable
apartments by 3.8 million. But by 1995, the gap between grew to 4.4 million.

In 1995, the typical family of poor renters spent about 60 percent of their
income on shelter, twice the percentage the government defines as being
affordable, the study found. That figure was the same in 1993.

The study defined a cheap apartment as one that rented for less than $300
in 1995, and a needy renter as one earning less than $12,000 a year.

The center's findings echo those of the government, including an April
report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that also
concluded that a growing economy had done nothing to ease the housing
problems of the poor.

The report said that for low-income families, housing affordability had
become a "a fundamental structural problem," despite "robust economic growth."

"The center's study mirrors many of our own findings," said Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo. "Unfortunately, there are a lot
more $6-an-hour jobs than $6-an-hour apartments."

The portrait of low-income housing did contain one bit of encouraging news.
The number of severely dilapidated apartments continues to decline. In
1985, 22 percent of poor renters lived in seriously substandard housing. A
decade later, that figure had declined to 14 percent.

The problems of needy renters rest at the intersection of three distinct
trends. One, their incomes have stagnated. Two, shelter costs are growing
faster than inflation as a whole. And three, the government is no longer
expanding the supply of subsidized housing.

Partisans may quibble over the details, but "there is general agreement
about the magnitude of the affordability problem," said John Weicher, who
served as an assistant housing secretary under President George Bush. "The
disagreement is over what to do about it."

The Clinton administration is asking Congress to offer rental subsidies to
an additional 100,000 families this year. During the heyday of government
housing programs, 1977 to 1981, the government added about 260,000 families
a year to its roster of subsidized renters. During the administrations of
President Reagan and President Bush, that number still grew, though more
slowly, averaging 70,000 a year.

But since 1995, when the Republicans took over Congress, the government has
stopped expanding the pool of subsidized housing for the first time in
modern history. Much of the cutback has been budget-driven. It costs about
$6,000 a year to keep an average family in subsidized housing.

Though about 15 million households now qualify for federal housing
assistance, only about 4.5 million families get it. Of them, about a third
live in conventional public housing projects. The others have subsidies
that allow them to live in private housing. In each case, tenants
contribute 30 percent of their income toward the rent, and the government
provides the rest.

While the government's efforts have slowed, the crux of the problem remains
in the private market. Demolition and gentrification have destroyed many
low-cost units. And the cost of the housing that has replaced low-cost
units is simply more than the neediest renters can pay.

Market forces can supply the poor with cheap clothing, toys or food. But
many housing costs are fixed, such as land, taxes, utilities and interest.
The ability of builders to economize therefore remains limited. From 1991
to 1995, the average rent paid by a low-income renter rose 21 percent, the
study found, compared to a general inflation rate of 9 percent.

While the housing problems of the poor may seem a perennial concern, they
have undergone a sea change in the past generation.

In 1970, there were about 300,000 more cheap apartments than there were
needy renters, or 6.2 million renters for 6.5 million apartments. By 1995,
however, the situation had reversed. By then, there were 10.5 million needy
renters, and just 6.1 million cheap apartments.

The study found that about 80 percent of poor renters spend more than 30
percent of their income on shelter. And about 60 percent spend more than
half their income on rent. Leaving aside those with subsidies, the average
poor renter spends an astonishing 77 percent of income on shelter costs.

While Weicher agrees that the recovery has been slow to ease the housing
problems of the poor, he predicts a less discouraging report when more
recent data is made available from the Census Bureau.

"I'd expect some improvement from 1995 to 1997," he said. "This recovery
was slower than previous recoveries to reach people at the bottom."

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Sat, 20 Jun 1998 10:29:06 -0400
Subject: Reminder: Tenant Rally Day -- today at noon


Saturday, June 20th -- Noon to 3 PM
Union Square Park (14th and Union Sq. West)

Thought our rent regulations were safe until the year 2003?
Think Again

Thanks to Assembly Speaker Shelden Silver and Assemblymember
Vito Lopez (BK, chair, Assembly Housing Committee), the Rent
Regulation system is virtually defunct.

City Councilmember Margarita Lopez
State Assemblymember Scott Stringer
State Assemblymember Jeffrey Aubrey
James Butler, Local 420 Public Hospital Employees Union
Penny LaForest, Citywide Tenants Coalition

Sponsored by Belnord Tenants Assoc., Chelsea Coalition on Housing, Coalition
for a District 2 Alternative (CODA), East Side Tenants Coalition, Harlem
Tenants Council, Lower Washington Heights Neighborhood Assoc., Park Terrace
Tenants, Queens League of United Tenants, Riverside-Edgecomb Neighborhood
Assoc., Skyview Tenants (BX), SRO Tenants United, West Side Tenants Union
and others. For info call (212) 862-8958 or (212)822-8231.

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  NYTenants Interactive:
  NYTenants Express:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 15:54:03 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online 6/23/98

Tenants Online                                           6/23/98

In this issue...

* Yankee Stadium Forum -- Tonight 7 Pm
* Small Programs Fall Victim to Budget Battle in City Hall
  (Times) -- on City Wide Task Force on Housing Court
* City Board OK's Rent Hikes (Daily News)



We just got this information...

City Council and Speaker Peter Vallone will
hold a Public Forum/Town Hall meeting tonight,
Tuesday June 23 at 7:00 PM in the City Council
Chambers at City Hall on the issue of Yankee Stadium.

The panel includes:

Councilmembers Sabini (Q), Ognibene (Q) and Pinkett (BK)
Ronnie Lowenstein, Independent Budget Office
Mitchell Moss, Urban Planner, NYU
JoAnna Cagan, co-author "Field of Schemes"
moderator: Councilmember Adolpho Carrion (BX)

Funny how Vallone's office couldn't seem to find
anyone from the West Side to be on the panel.

Although the issue is Yankee Stadium, and although
this is very important in its own right, we think
it is valid to raise and question the Eighth Avenue/
Theater Subdistrict zoning plan -- because both
issues have to do with overdevelopment and the
life of a neighborhood.

If you've followed the issue, the Mayor is
trying to get the city to pay for constructing
a new Yankee Stadium in the southern part of
Clinton/Hell's Kitchen. City Council Speaker
Peter Vallone, who opposes the plan, who is
running for Governor, and who is in the midst
of a major budget battle with the Mayor is trying
to get the stadium issue on as a ballot referendum
this fall. City Council has placed it on the ballot,
but the Mayor can block this with his Charter
Revision referendum. But (as we understand it),
even if the Mayor blocks City Council's attempt,
the stadium referendum can still get on the ballot by
petitioning -- which is why you might have seen
people going around with orange-colored petitions
for people to sign.

Hope to see you there!


Small Programs Fall Victim to Budget Battle in City Hall
New York Times, June 22, 1998

The room was muggy, but the window air-conditioner had been shut off so no
one would miss a word. For five counselors who helped tenants navigate the
city's housing courts, it was their turn to be shell-shocked. They sat
nearly motionless as Larry Wood, their boss, told them they were being laid
off because of a budget brawl at City Hall.

"Nonprofit organizations always live hand to mouth," Mr. Wood said
apologetically. "But I didn't expect to be wiped out."

Mr. Wood is the chairman of the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, a
private group established in 1981 that has an annual budget of $320,000.
The counselors, who each make about $26,000 a year, had provided assistance
at tables set up in housing courts in each borough since 1981. Now the
tables are vacant and people who call the group's advice line get a
recording saying that it cannot offer help "due to a loss of funds."

The City Council had agreed to give the group $263,000 -- about 82 percent
of its budget. But Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has taken aim at $251 million
in spending, deriding it as pork, and has vowed not to spend any of that

When the Mayor announced on Tuesday that he would not honor a budget that
the City Council had adopted and then maintained over his attempts to veto
it, he declared, "This is not going to really hurt many people, except the
politicians who run the City Council."

By week's end, however, charitable groups throughout the city said they had
been forced to scale back their plans and cut their staffs after deciding
they had little chance of receiving the money promised by the City Council
when the new budget year begins on July 1.

The dispute is over seventh-tenths of 1 percent of the $34 billion
municipal budget. And caught up in the power struggle between the Council
and the Mayor are Little League teams, health-care support services,
advocacy organizations and other nonprofit groups that depend either
largely or entirely on city money.

"Some of these groups are so small that what the Mayor calls 'pork' is
going to endanger entire programs and entire organizations very quickly,"
said Fran Barrett, executive director of Community Resource Exchange, which
helps nonprofit agencies. "People are fearful that the work they have been
doing for years is about to disappear in a political tussle."

The problem for these groups is that although the Council voted
overwhelmingly last week to override the Mayor's vetoes of spending he
considered irresponsible, he has declared that he still will not spend the
money. The Council plans to take the Mayor to court.

"We will utilize the law to prevent him from trying to carry out all three
branches of government by himself," the Council Speaker, Peter F. Vallone,

In the meantime, a champion Little League team in the Bronx will not get a
van to travel to games.

In Queens, members of the Rudy Hepatitis C Support Group (named not for the
Mayor but for a man who succumbed to the disease) were proud of their new
educational video on the dangers of tattooing and body piercing. But the
group's leaders say that now they will not have the cab fare they need to
take the video around to schools, and they are too sick to take the subway.

And in Manhattan, the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association -- whose
members have survived polio and strokes, gunshots and multiple sclerosis --
is cutting back its summer outings from three to one, since hiring a bus
equipped with a wheelchair lift costs $400 for each trip. That means no
trip to Coney Island or the New York Botanical Garden this year, the
association says. The group had hoped to receive $3,500 from the city,
roughly half its annual budget.

The Mayor's office said that dire predictions about the financial health of
the nonprofit groups had proved unwarranted when they had been raised by
Mr. Giuliani's critics in previous budget fights. "Many advocates and
politicians cried wolf, yet today we have a safer, cleaner city than we've
had in decades," said Deputy Mayor Randy M. Mastro. "We aim to continue
that progress, yet at the same time insure that the city lives within its

Mr. Mastro added that the Mayor's proposed budget included record spending
for libraries, day care and summer jobs for youth. "We're only talking
about the Council adding on more money," Mr. Mastro said.

Charitable groups, however say they foresee calamity this year for two
reasons. Many of them also lost money when Gov. George E. Pataki vetoed
1,000 items from the state budget in April. Among them was financing for
the Legal Aid Society, which had been holding open several vacancies for
lawyers until the fiscal year began, but now will not fill those slots.
Patricia A. Bath, a spokeswoman for Legal Aid, said the group expected to
lose at least $2 million because of the budget dispute.

Among those who would lose representation are elderly people whose benefits
have been mistakenly cut off.

"You don't see these people standing outside your office or outside City
Hall," Ms. Bath said. "They're in their apartments, doing without medicine
or telephone service or food."

The second reason for dismay among nonprofit leaders is the uncertainty
about financing, given the likely court fight. They explained that even
under less volatile circumstances, money from the city for a fiscal year
beginning in July often does not arrive until fall or early winter because
of the time it takes for contracts to be prepared and approved by the
Mayor's office. Many of the groups get loans to meet their payroll and
other expenses in the meantime. But without an assurance that the city
money will actually be forthcoming, lenders may be reluctant, leaders of
the organizations say.

"Creditors will be concerned about whether we're going to get the contract,
and whether it will be tied up in protracted litigation," said Rick Jones,
the deputy director of Neighborhood Defender Service, a Harlem group that
provides legal services to 2,500 families a year. If the budget dispute is
not resolved, Mr. Jones said, the service will lose $2 million of its $2.5
million budget and may close its doors next month.

The mood was just as grim at the Women's Prison Association and Home Inc.,
a 155-year-old group that helps addicted convicts and their children. "We
have two weeks to decide whether to close programs or lay off staff," said
Ann L. Jacobs, the executive director. "We tightened our belt when there
was a fiscal problem in the city. But now we're living like this in
economically abundant times."

Still, there are groups that are taking a hopeful approach and mounting
quiet lobbying campaigns. Denise K. Taylor, director of the Rhinelander
Children's Center of the Children's Aid Society, spent a day writing a
letter to the Mayor on behalf of a Saturday program for deaf and
hard-of-hearing children who, she wrote, "would otherwise be isolated in
their community on weekends."

The weeks ahead will be a time of grim choices, group leaders say. A dinner
program for the elderly, held each weeknight at the cafeteria of Public
School 134 on the Lower East Side, is budgeted to feed 150 people a day.
But the program has become so popular that often more people than that show
up to eat and to watch a video. Officials of Community Food Resource
Center, which runs the program, had counted on city money to close the gap.

One regular, Susan F. Lee, said she had voted for Mr. Giuliani. "He has
done a lot of good things," said Mrs. Lee, 73, a retired secretary. "Now
we're disappointed, and we're scared."


City Board OK's Rent Hikes
But suit forces 2nd ballot tomorrow
Daily News, June 23, 1998

The city's Rent Guidelines Board approved rent hikes of 2% and 4% on one
and two-year leases last night after nearly five hours of angry protests
from tenants at a raucous public hearing.

But it'll have to do it all over again tomorrow.

Acting on a suit filed by tenant board member Ken Rosenfeld, a judge ruled
last night's vote wasn't final — and that another ballot must be taken
after a report containing rental statistics is released today.

Rosenfeld says the so-called 1997 Movers' Report — which shows what tenants
who moved last year are paying for new apartments — will prove rents
already are rising at a dizzying rate.

He believes this information will convince the board to vote for no
increase at all.

"I simply don't think the board appreciates just how fast stabilized rents
are rising," he said.

But the tenant protesters — more than 100 packed the hearing room at
Brooklyn Borough Hall — apparently do.

Wearing pink hats bearing the message "I'm a tenant and I vote," they waved
fists, shouted insults and hooted down landlord after landlord who tried to

Shouts of "liar!" and "shame!" came so often at the heated meeting that
board Executive Director Ed Hochman threatened ejections.

Uniformed cops succeeded only slightly in reducing the interruptions and

The increases were passed on the third ballot by a vote of 5 to 3 with one
abstention. The increases also include an additional $15-a-month hike for
apartments going for less than $450.

Jeanie Dubnau of the Citywide Tenants Coalition said the new increase "is
going to push many people over the edge into homelessness."

She said it was particularly upsetting because a board study found a
next-to-nothing increase in landlord maintenance costs for 1997.

But landlord Denis Gittens said the increases were far from enough to let
him keep the 14-family apartment building he bought in Crown Heights 12
years ago.

"It does nothing for me," he said. ". . .I should be making a profit, but .
. .I'll go out of business in a few years."

The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
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  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
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