Advocates, Electeds Rally Against Dangerous Housing Proposals

 

PROPOSED REGULATIONS COULD LEAD TO INCREASED EVICTIONS, HOMELESSNESS

Contact: Bethany Jankunis, Assemblymember Glick's office

(212) 674-5154, (917) 846-9559

Lisa Kaplan, Councilmember Rosie Mendez's office

(212) 677-1077, (646) 530-1424

Kyle Sklerov, State Senator Liz Krueger's office

(212) 490-9535, (914) 772-1589

On Tuesday, August 12th , 2008 at 10 a.m. on the steps of City Hall, tenant advocates and elected officials will rally against a move by the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) that could result in low- and moderate-income tenants losing their homes. At a time when the City's efforts to decrease homelessness have largely failed to do so, there are grave concerns that the regulations that DHCR is considering could push even more families onto the street.

The proposed regulations, which DHCR will consider at a hearing at 22 Reade Street at 10 a.m. Tuesday, address the demolition provision of the Rent Stabilization Law. The Legislature created this provision to permit building owners to remove tenants only so that they could demolish old, dilapidated housing units and replace them with new, safe housing. Instead, some ill-intentioned owners have sought to misuse this provision by claiming that they will demolish the building when, in reality, their construction plans show that they will simply renovate the building and keep it substantially the same. In the process, they are able to force their rent-stabilized tenants from their homes and remove the units from the rent-stabilization system forever. As one law firm that specializes in representing owners stated: "The options available to Owners for recovery of possession of their rent-regulated apartments are few and far between. One option available to Owners is the filing of a 'demolition application' . . ." (Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, LLC, February 2004 update, "When is a Building 'Demolished'?")

Because owners are able to clear an entire building of all tenants through this means, phony demolitions are considered to be one of the most dangerous threats to ever face rent-regulated housing. Advocates and elected officials have long pressed DHCR to clarify the Rent Stabilization Law's vague definition of demolition to curb this practice. Instead, DHCR's proposed regulations essentially give the green light to owners wishing to force out tenants and maximize profits at a time when the incentive for owners to do so is greater than ever. For example, private equity firms are increasingly making purchases of rent-regulated housing that are based on financial schemes that assume the building will be cleared of rent-regulated tenants.

Speakers for Tuesday's rally include State and City legislators, representatives from Housing Here and Now and other housing groups, and several tenants facing eviction by means of phony demolition. They will call on Governor Paterson and DHCR to withdraw the proposed regulations. Following the rally, elected officials and tenant advocates will walk en masse to the DHCR hearing at 22 Reade Street, where many of them will testify in opposition to the proposals.