Public Hearing - May 23, 2019

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                                PUBLIC HEARING:

       7                                 Newburgh Armory Unity Center
                                         321 South William Street
       8                                 Newburgh, New York

       9                                 May 23, 2019

                 Senator Brian Kavanagh
      12         Chair


      14      PRESENT:

      15      Senator Neil D. Breslin

      16      Senator Shelley B. Mayer

      17      Senator Jen Metzger

      18      Senator Zellnor Myrie

      19      Senator Julia Salazar

      20      Senator James Skoufis







              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Jonathan G. Jacobson                       5        9
       3      Assembly Member
              New York State Assembly
              Juanita Amador                            12       47
       5      Co-Founder
              Kingston Tenants Union
              Rashida Tyler                             12       47
       7      Co-Founder, Kingston Tenants Union
              Also, Member of the State Board of
       8        Citizen Action of New York

       9      Betsy Kraat                               12       47
      10      Patsy Smith
      11      Kingston Tenants Union

      12      Nick Page                                 60
              County Legislator
      13      Dutchess County Legislature

      14      Carla Johnson                             69
              Resident of Newburgh
      15      CVH Member

      16      Michele McKeon                            76
              Chief Operating Officer
      17      Regional Economic Community
                Action Program
              Albert Annunziata                         85       95
      19      Executive Director
              Westchester Building and
      20        Realty Institute

      21      Anthony Grice                            111
              Ramona Monteverde                        111
      23      Councilwoman, Ward 2
              Newburgh City Council



              SPEAKERS (Continued):                   PAGE  QUESTIONS
              Tamie Hollins                            111
       3      A Tenant
              City of Newburgh
              Bob Braunclich                           121
       5      A Tenant
              Kingston Tenant Union
              Omari Shakur                             127      135
       7      Member
              New Voices Heard
              Patrick Cousins                          127      135
       9      Resident and Landlord
              City of Newburgh
              Thomas Bosket                            137      145
      11      Member
              Martin Colavito
      12      Member
              Sullivan Agencies Leading Together
              Liliana Cobo                             147
      14      Member
              Angel Estrada
      15      Member
              Make the Road

      17                           ---oOo---










       1             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay, ladies and

       2      gentlemen, we are ready to convene our next hearing

       3      for the day.

       4             So, if folks talking in the back could either

       5      take seats or, you know, step outside, we'd

       6      appreciate it.

       7             Shhhh.

       8             So it -- we're going to -- we're just about

       9      to begin, so if people could take seats, or maybe

      10      step outside, we'd appreciate it.

      11             We still have a couple of senators, and

      12      perhaps witnesses, getting to their places, but

      13      I think we will go ahead and convene this hearing of

      14      the Standing Committee on Housing, Construction, and

      15      Community Development.

      16             This is a public hearing on rent regulation

      17      and tenant protection legislation.

      18             This is our fourth hearing on this topic.

      19             I would note that we have one additional

      20      hearing in Greenburgh on Tuesday, the 28th, from

      21      10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Greenburgh Town Hall.

      22             But today we're very happy to be here in

      23      Newburgh.

      24             Given that we are beginning substantially

      25      later than our scheduled time, first, let me begin


       1      by thanking all of those who got here on time, and

       2      have been very patient, waiting for a prior hearing

       3      to conclude.

       4             And I would also suggest that, perhaps, my

       5      colleagues and I will forego any extensive opening

       6      remarks, but I will give -- I will first acknowledge

       7      that we have with us, Senator Breslin,

       8      Senator Salazar, Senator Myrie, Senator Mayer,

       9      Senator Metzger, and, Senator Skoufis has just

      10      stepped out, but will be -- because he was

      11      participating in the prior hearing, but he will be

      12      joining us very shortly.

      13             I will, I guess, give my colleagues the

      14      opportunity to say any urgent opening remarks if

      15      they choose.

      16             Okay.

      17             Thank you, all.

      18             So our first witness then, is Assembly Member

      19      Jonathan Jacobson.

      20             And, welcome, and thank you for welcoming us

      21      here to Newburgh as well.

      22             ASSEMBLYMAN JONATHAN G. JACOBSON:  Thank you.

      23             Thank you, Senator.

      24             Thank you for having these important hearings

      25      on rent regulation and tenant protection.


       1             And it's -- I think it's notable you're

       2      having it that goes later in the day so that people

       3      that have to work or pick up their kids from school

       4      are able to come later, and I appreciate that.

       5             As with many areas of the law, there needs to

       6      be a balancing act; there needs to be a balance

       7      between the needs of the tenants and the need to

       8      encourage proper development.

       9             In the city of Newburgh there is a need to

      10      protect tenants, and also a need to incur

      11      development for more better housing.

      12             I have committed to support these bills to

      13      protect tenants, and I've signed on to them.

      14             It's important --

      15                [Applause.]

      16             ASSEMBLYMAN JONATHAN G. JACOBSON:  It's

      17      important to protect good tenants who have paid rent

      18      for years, particularly seniors, and would have no

      19      place to go if they are evicted.

      20             We have that a lot in Newburgh, they're

      21      fearful, because there just isn't a lot of housing.

      22             This is why it's important that we -- that we

      23      make sure we encourage more housing, because if

      24      there was more better housing, it would change the

      25      situation, because those landlords that are not


       1      putting their apartments up to code would have a

       2      reason to, because they would have competition to

       3      rent out their places.

       4             So we have to think of both as we go along.

       5             But we need that protection, we need to make

       6      sure.

       7             I thought the proposed good-cause bill has

       8      taken into account most concerns that people had in

       9      the past, particularly when an owner wanted to use

      10      the premises for him or herself for their family.

      11             The one section which is being changed,

      12      I hear, concerns a section which defines what is

      13      considered "unconscionable rent increase."

      14             The current language states that an

      15      "unconscionable rent increase" would be something

      16      greater than 1 1/2 times the rate of inflation,

      17      which, for this year, would be 3 percent.

      18             So if this was a rent of $750 a month, there

      19      would be only an increase of $22.50, or $30, on

      20      1,000.

      21             It's probably unlikely that such a small

      22      increase would cover water, sewer charges, or tax

      23      increases.

      24             So I think that, perhaps, what would be

      25      better is to talk about unconscionable rent, and


       1      list the factors that would be considered when

       2      determining that, because we want to make sure that,

       3      when we go ahead to get new developers here in

       4      Newburgh and other -- in Poughkeepsie and other

       5      cities that really need it, they're not discouraged

       6      totally from stepping up to the plate.

       7             And like I said, we do need better housing so

       8      that the tenants here would not be forced to rent

       9      from some of the landlords you heard from earlier.

      10             So, I think that would really be helpful.

      11             Also, concerning the statewide rent control,

      12      and from what I understand the bill to say, it's for

      13      buildings built in 1973 or earlier.

      14             I think we have to make it clear what happens

      15      when you have an old building, from 1917, and it's

      16      been vacant for a lot of years, and now we finally

      17      get somebody to do something, and they get a new CO

      18      in 2019.

      19             So that should be considered new construction

      20      and not part of it.

      21             But I think it should be clear in the statute

      22      so people know what they're getting into.

      23             But, I just want to say I applaud the effort.

      24             This is difficult.

      25             But -- and I think that the fact that you're


       1      having these hearings is important, because you have

       2      to explain what's going -- what's going on with

       3      these bills.

       4             I do believe that the problem with tenants

       5      and rent is a statewide issue, and I'm sure you

       6      found that out as well.

       7             And I just think that, when you balance it

       8      out so that we can encourage more development in

       9      cities like Newburgh, which has been getting some

      10      more development, not enough, that we can do both.

      11             I think we can; I think we can protect

      12      tenants while encourage development.

      13             And I appreciate the opportunity to speak

      14      before you, and congratulate you on your efforts.

      15             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

      16             I'll just begin, briefly, just a few


      18             First of all, thank you again for your

      19      testimony.

      20             Thank you for your leadership in, you know,

      21      advocating for the many bills that we've been

      22      discussing.

      23             Just on the issue of good-cause and its

      24      relation to the standard for -- for

      25      unconscionability, you know, I just -- just to


       1      clarify for those who might listen, I think -- I'm

       2      sure that you know this, that -- that changes in

       3      those -- in water and sewer charges and other things

       4      that are beyond the control of a given landlord

       5      would, of course, be, you know, acceptable reasons,

       6      even under unconscionability standards, to -- you

       7      know, to exceed the CPI standard that's in the

       8      current bill.

       9             But we will -- you know, we'll take that --

      10      we are -- we are having an, you know, extensive

      11      discussion among senators, and certainly with the

      12      Assembly and the Governor's Office.

      13             ASSEMBLYMAN JONATHAN G. JACOBSON:  Yeah,

      14      I heard it at our own conference, and I'm sure

      15      you've heard in it yours, you know, the concerns.

      16             And it's just -- we want to do it right.

      17             We don't want to -- I don't think it's an

      18      either/or situation, and it's certainly not

      19      susceptible to bumper-sticker solutions.

      20             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Right.

      21             And, similarly, on the issue of abandon --

      22      buildings that have been abandoned for a long time,

      23      under current standards, of course, if a building

      24      has to be -- is very -- has been abandoned, and it's

      25      very substantially rehabilitated, also, the rent


       1      regulation would not normally imply under those

       2      circumstances if the building is effectively a new

       3      housing that's being created out of a long-abandoned

       4      building.

       5             But we -- we have heard that concern,

       6      particularly in this area, and given, you know, all

       7      of the effort to redevelop formally, you know,

       8      currently, unoccupied housing.

       9             So, you know, that might be worth -- there

      10      might be something we can consider clarifying.

      11             But we do -- again, we do very much

      12      appreciate your comments.


      14      appreciate.

      15             I have signed on the bills, but I just think

      16      that we have to work some things out.

      17             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

      18             ASSEMBLYMAN JONATHAN G. JACOBSON:  Thank you.

      19             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay.  And I'm going to --

      20      we appreciate the enthusiasm for this topic, and

      21      I am -- and I -- and we had a little bit of

      22      applause, including from a lovely small child

      23      before, which was very sweet.

      24             We are going to ask that people not -- just

      25      so that we can get through the questions and hear


       1      all your testimony, I would ask people not to react,

       2      you know, too much to the -- to what you hear today,

       3      whether you like it, or perhaps maybe you won't like

       4      some things we hear today.

       5             But, we are going to try to get as many

       6      points of view out as we can today.

       7             So next up we're going folks from the

       8      Kingston Tenants Union.

       9             We have Patsy Smith and Juanita Amador.

      10             And if there's anyone else from Kingston

      11      Tenants who is expecting to testify, if you could

      12      come up as well.

      13             So, again, we're going to run, basically,

      14      10 minutes for testimony.

      15             There is a clock there, and we will -- we'll

      16      remind you, if you do have written documents you

      17      want to submit, we will accept those as part of the

      18      written record of this hearing as well.

      19             We will ask people to -- you know, to -- to

      20      respect that time so that everybody can get their

      21      turn.

      22             And, in addition, then we'll have five-minute

      23      periods for senators to ask questions of the

      24      panelists.

      25             So, if you could begin.


       1             Each person should begin, please, by stating

       2      your name for the record, so that it's in the

       3      official recording of the hearing, and any

       4      affiliations you want us to know about, and then

       5      proceed with your testimony.

       6             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  My name is

       7      Juanita Velazquez-Amador, and I am the founder of

       8      the Kingston's Tenant Union.

       9             These are two members here with me, Patsy and

      10      Betsy.

      11             And we are here due to the fact that

      12      Ulster County does not have any protections for

      13      their tenants.

      14             I've been fighting, due to the fact that,

      15      E&M Management came up here into Ulster County and

      16      took over.

      17             And I may not have any paperwork for you, but

      18      I have a lot of pictures for you.

      19             I lived in E&M properties, where they came

      20      in, removed all our amenities, and raised our rents,

      21      and left us with no repairs.

      22             I lived in an apartment with sewage coming

      23      out of my tub, for months.

      24             And they did nothing.

      25             I had bedbugs because the building had


       1      bedbugs.

       2             They did nothing.

       3             Okay, we had roaches, because we had a sewer

       4      problem throughout the property.  And everything

       5      that came out that sewer, everybody, all the

       6      tenants, were feeling it.

       7             They have other properties where they are

       8      having gas leaks, and people are being put out, and

       9      what they're doing is forcing them out.

      10             We had staff members who were harassing our

      11      tenants sexually, as well as threatening.

      12             And I got tired, so I started speaking out.

      13             Ulster County needs tenant protections.

      14             We had over 210 evictions alone in Kingston

      15      in one year.

      16             That's almost one eviction every other day,

      17      and yet there's no place to house our homeless.

      18             We have over 1500 just alone in Kingston, and

      19      that's not including the kids.

      20             Okay, we are 57 percent renters, okay, and

      21      most of them are single moms, okay, with children,

      22      that cannot afford to live on their own.

      23             And then when we go to ask for help, we're

      24      treated like we're less than nothing.

      25             That is wrong.


       1             And our own buildings departments do not help

       2      us.

       3             You go and you speak to them, and they say,

       4      Well, the landlord is going to evict you anyway, so

       5      there's no use for me to go there.

       6             I have one housing inspector that said, Well,

       7      those people, just let me know.  I'll get them out

       8      of the apartment.  I'll find violations.

       9             And her name is Jeannie Edwards.

      10             Okay?

      11             That is not okay.

      12             I'm sorry, due to this administration that

      13      has been in this White House, people of color have

      14      been treated less than human.

      15             Protections are what we need, and we need you

      16      all to stand up for us.

      17             To be homeless, do I look homeless to you?

      18             Do you think I've ever been homeless?

      19             Yeah, I was, 'cause I was illegally evicted

      20      out of the E&M property when I fought back and

      21      refused to live in those conditions.

      22             So they found a loophole to get me out.

      23             So I was homeless.

      24             And thanks to my community, I didn't even get

      25      my security deposit back.


       1             That's not thing that happens here

       2      Upstate New York.

       3             Not no one gets their security deposit back.

       4             So how are you supposed to move on if you

       5      can't get your security deposit back to put down on

       6      the apartment that you're about to get?

       7             I tried with the common council and our

       8      Mayor Noble, I've given him policies, procedures,

       9      security-deposit law, that could be passed just

      10      within our county, that can help even if we don't

      11      get universal rent control, which we want.

      12             But if we don't, there's some protections

      13      that you can put in place for us to make us there,

      14      so that we can have something.

      15             It's really sad that we have all these

      16      tenants and children who are being displaced, and

      17      not even going to their same schools anymore.

      18             It's not -- I mean, I remember back in my

      19      time, we didn't have tenant protections, and I saw

      20      my cousins, my family, fight for tenant protections

      21      back in the '60s.

      22             I remember being burnt out of my apartment

      23      because, back then, you were able to be burned out,

      24      and it was legal.

      25             They did burn down the building and you were


       1      done, you're out.

       2             We need just-cause evictions.

       3             We need universal rent control.

       4             We need our security deposits back.

       5             We need you to please stand up for the

       6      people.

       7             We are what we call "the working-class poor."

       8             Just because you make less than $50,000 does

       9      not mean that we are less than.

      10             Okay?

      11             In actuality, those people that -- they call

      12      "those people" are actually who built America.

      13             Okay?

      14             Because the rich would not have their money

      15      if it wasn't for the backs of the people that

      16      actually were building the railroads, or building

      17      the roads, or working in Walmart, or stewards, and

      18      we don't even have the minimum wage up here.

      19             We're still getting paid $11.75 an hour.

      20             How is anyone supposed to live in an

      21      apartment, at $11.75 an hour, when you don't even

      22      make that much and your apartment is $1,000 a month?

      23             And that's only for a single apartment.

      24             It's -- it's horrific.

      25             I just ask that -- I will show you the


       1      pictures if you would like.

       2             I want to show you what people are living in

       3      right now, to this day, with what they're living

       4      with, because I think this is not right.

       5             It's totally not right.

       6             This is my apartment.  This is what I was

       7      living in.

       8                (Witness gets up from table and approaches

       9        the dias with pictures.)

      10             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  And they thought

      11      it was okay.

      12             I know Kevin Cahill says he's a silent

      13      sign-on for just-cause evictions.

      14             Well, I went to his office to speak with him,

      15      and got insulted by his own staff.  His receptionist

      16      insulted me.

      17             I got video of it.

      18             Okay?

      19             And he still didn't come out to speak to me.

      20             A silent partner is not what we need.

      21             We need someone to actually stand up and take

      22      a stand, because, without yous, who we put in

      23      office, we ain't gonna make it.

      24             That's about all that I have.

      25             I'm just asking, we need universal rent


       1      control, we need tenant protections.

       2             And I'll pass this on.

       3             And this is another founder here,

       4      Rashida Tyler, of the Kingston's Tenant union.

       5             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

       6             RASHIDA TYLER:  Thank you very much.

       7             My name is Rashida Tyler.  I am a co-founder

       8      of the Kingston Tenants Union, and I am on the State

       9      Board of Citizen Action of New York.

      10             I would like the thank the Senate for holding

      11      the series of housing hearings across New York State

      12      to allow those who are directly impacted by the

      13      current housing crisis to tell you their stories and

      14      their experiences.

      15             I am an advocate, and I carry the stories of

      16      many tenants who are struggling to afford

      17      ever-increasing rents, and those who have been made

      18      homeless, by unrestrained market forces here in the

      19      Hudson Valley.

      20             I'll skip everything about our organization's

      21      identification, and I'll be submitting my written

      22      testimony.

      23             But, the Kingston Tenants Union is,

      24      basically, meant to educate tenants on rights,

      25      provide workshops, and provide rides to court and


       1      social services, as well as assistance in housing

       2      search, direct assistance.

       3             Citizen Action is an advocacy organization

       4      and we do not provide direct assistance.

       5             So I support the passage of all nine tenant

       6      protection bills that are currently before the

       7      Senate and the Assembly.

       8             Ending geographic restrictions of the

       9      Emergency Tenant Protection Act would allow

      10      municipalities right outside of the eight counties

      11      already included in the legislation to opt in to

      12      rent stabilization the chance to do so.

      13             The City of Kingston's Common Council has

      14      passed a memorializing resolution in support of

      15      expanding the ETPA, and legislation enjoining the

      16      village of New Paltz, cities of Hudson and Newburgh.

      17             Good-cause eviction legislation will help to

      18      provide residents of the Hudson Valley with peace of

      19      mind when they speak up against landlords that

      20      refuse to make repairs.

      21             Since evictions in -- since 2002, evictions

      22      in the city of Kingston have increased by

      23      57 percent.

      24             You can be assured that they are not all for

      25      non-payment or property damage.


       1             We have found that when tenants problematic,

       2      landlords will ignore repairs until they become a

       3      safety hazard, at which time they will call the

       4      building inspector and have their own premises

       5      condemned.

       6             This is a common end-run around the formal

       7      eviction process which silences many tenants from

       8      reporting needed repairs.

       9             It is increasingly becoming more difficult to

      10      find a place to live, and this is compounded for

      11      anyone with an eviction.

      12             In Kingston, there is a tenant database run

      13      by landlords -- Kingston Landlord Support that

      14      tracks evictions based on data from courts and the

      15      sheriff's department.

      16             This has helped lead to tenant blacklisting.

      17             Also, landlords are increasingly requesting

      18      deposits of first, last -- first and last months

      19      rent, in addition to security deposits, to move in.

      20             However, there are also increasingly

      21      associated costs with just applying to get a rental,

      22      including application fees, background checks, and

      23      credit checks.

      24             In the Hudson Valley we are facing a real

      25      housing crisis.


       1             The 2018 Ulster County Rental Housing Survey

       2      found a vacancy rate of non-subsidized apartments

       3      was just 3.16 percent.

       4             While anything under 5 percent is considered

       5      an emergency, this statistic gets even worse when we

       6      consider the city of Kingston where the vacancy rate

       7      was just .5 percent.

       8             Our communities are in crisis.

       9             I hear about the struggle to find available

      10      affordable housing on a daily basis, this morning,

      11      in fact.

      12             It is taking longer to find permanent housing

      13      for the homeless.  Families are doubling up, causing

      14      dangerous overcrowding.  And people are working two,

      15      and even three jobs, to afford a roof over their

      16      heads.

      17             This leaves less money for families to spend

      18      on other basic necessities, such as food and medical

      19      care.

      20             It is also preventing families from saving

      21      money to purchase homes, for college education, and,

      22      in the long run, it can really limit social

      23      mobility.

      24             Many families facing crisis cannot qualify

      25      for public assistance.


       1             The 2016 Asset-Limited Income-Constrained But

       2      Employed (ALICE), from the United Way, factors that

       3      there are 11 percent of families in Ulster County

       4      that live in poverty, as defined by the federal

       5      poverty line, of $11,880 for individuals and $24,300

       6      for a family of four.

       7             However, 30 percent of households are

       8      classified as ALICE, meaning, that they are above

       9      the federal poverty line, but below the basic cost

      10      of living for the county.

      11             In order to just survive in Ulster County, an

      12      individual needs to earn at least $12.06 per hour,

      13      or, $24,000 -- $24,108 per year; and a family of

      14      four would need to earn at least $39.96 an hour.

      15             Wages are just not keeping pace with housing.

      16             Additionally, short-term rentals, such as

      17      Airbnb, are placing stresses on an already

      18      constrained housing market.

      19             The Hudson Valley is a top destination for

      20      Airbnb users, with over 300,000 guests helping hosts

      21      earn $50,000 in supplemental income in 2018 alone.

      22             In Ulster County there are almost 150,000

      23      guests, bringing in $24.4 million.

      24             There is no doubt that people want to

      25      vacation and recreate in the Hudson Valley and


       1      Catskills, which can increase local revenues, but at

       2      what price?

       3             According to the American Community Survey in

       4      2018, Ulster County Rental Housing Survey, over

       5      50 percent of households in Ulster County are

       6      rent-burdened, meaning that they pay over 30 percent

       7      of their monthly house -- incomes for housing.

       8             Almost 30 percent of the residents are

       9      considered severely rent-burdened, meaning that they

      10      pay over 50 percent of their monthly incomes for

      11      housing.

      12             Ulster County ranks sixth out 62 counties in

      13      New York State for the highest percentage of

      14      household income used to pay rent.

      15             This is not a statistic that anyone should be

      16      proud of.

      17             And so each of these statistics is someone's

      18      story.

      19             Carla, who was evicted from her apartment,

      20      she and her family rented in Kingston for

      21      seven years.  But after her landlord sold the

      22      building, she was evicted.

      23             Carla works hard to provide for herself and

      24      her two children, while caring for her elderly

      25      parents, one of whom is also disabled.


       1             Currently, they all reside in a motel in the

       2      suburb of Kingston, which requires a car to access

       3      the supports that she needs for her family and her

       4      emotionally-traumatized son.

       5             Mitch, who, like Carla, is currently

       6      homeless, is suffering a series of health setbacks,

       7      including a stroke, that left him unable to work.

       8             After being released from the hospital, he

       9      was sent to the department of social services for

      10      housing.

      11             From there, he was released to the

      12      Warming Center to recover from his stroke.

      13             Due to a 120-day sanction from DSS, he was

      14      unable to access a local shelter, and was sent to

      15      the Warming Center, which was only open when

      16      temperatures dropped below 32 degrees.

      17             The center is closed between 9 a.m. and

      18      7 p.m.

      19             The Kingston Tenants Union advocated for

      20      Mitch, and was able to get a sanction lifted, and he

      21      was placed in temporary accommodations in a motel in

      22      Highland, which is located 16 miles from Kingston;

      23      however, his physical therapy and his doctors were

      24      all located in Kingston.

      25             Mitch has been given $446 to find new


       1      accommodations.

       2             Christine.

       3             Christine is a single mother of five children

       4      who works two jobs to make ends meet.

       5             She is doing her best to afford the

       6      three-bedroom home she has rented for the past

       7      two years.

       8             One of her jobs is at a fast-food restaurant

       9      chain.

      10             Some weeks they cut her hours.

      11             So some weeks she can even have no hours at

      12      all.

      13             One of her jobs, also, just fired her to

      14      replace her with their niece.

      15             Her landlord began changing the terms on her

      16      rental agreement, making her pay for heating oil,

      17      even though this was supposed to be included in

      18      rent.

      19             She agreed because she and her family had

      20      nowhere else to go.

      21             The house needs repairs, and she tries to do

      22      as many as she can, but she cannot really afford to

      23      bring them to the attention of the landlord.

      24             She cannot afford to make trouble.

      25             Christine pays $1500 per month in rent.


       1             I have lived in Upstate New York since I was

       2      5 years old, and I have seen it through good times,

       3      and bad, like in my hometown, when IBM closed in

       4      1994, and many of my classmates suddenly had to

       5      move, businesses closed down, and homes sat vacant

       6      for years.

       7             Path-dependency on large corporations helped

       8      to create this problem.

       9             Today, when I speak to many elected officials

      10      in upstate, I hear echos of the same failed strategy

      11      offered up to explain why rent protections cannot be

      12      extended to their districts.

      13             While it's great to speculate about the

      14      impact of rental laws on developers, corporations,

      15      and investors that have yet to break ground in our

      16      community, there are people right here, right now,

      17      who are suffering, and can benefit from the relief

      18      this legislation would provide.

      19             Thank you very much for considering these

      20      bills.

      21             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

      22             RASHIDA TYLER:  I'd like to introduce

      23      Betsy Kraat, a member of the Kingston Tenants Union.

      24             BETSY KRAAT:  Senators, guests, fellow

      25      tenants, and activists, my Facebook status from


       1      May 19, 2017, reads:

       2             "I need your support.  I'm facing eviction.

       3             "My landlords have been entering my apartment

       4      and taking pictures without my knowledge or consent.

       5             "I have legal representation, but no new

       6      place to live, and I'm so scared.

       7             "I feel helpless."

       8             That would be the second eviction for me that

       9      year.

      10             My evictions, like many, aren't included in

      11      the official eviction count because we leave before

      12      the sheriff shows up.

      13             In 2015 my landlord died suddenly, and

      14      without a will.

      15             Her estate passed to her children, and

      16      because they were minors, to their guardian, her

      17      ex-husband, who had no interest in being a landlord.

      18             But, in 2016, I had my choice of two

      19      apartments, and chose one in the Rondout.

      20             It was a dump, and there were fleas.  And the

      21      circuit-breaker popped if you tried to make toast

      22      while the bathroom light was on.  And the pilot

      23      light in the stove wasn't lit.  And there was one

      24      heat source for the whole apartment.

      25             My landlord, Fatima Dean, told me the


       1      building was for sale, but there hadn't been any

       2      showings in months.

       3             That was the first lie.

       4             A week after we moved in, we came home to

       5      find a notice on the door.  A showing had been

       6      scheduled for the following day at 12 noon.

       7             I had moved in on Sunday, and on Monday, the

       8      kids had to go to school and I had to go to work.

       9             Our mattresses were on the floor,

      10      disassembled furniture was leaning against walls,

      11      and all manner of stuff was scattered everywhere,

      12      papers, clothes, cans of soup, you name it.

      13             In the morning I called my landlord to say

      14      the apartment was a mess and we were not ready for a

      15      showing.

      16             "We understand," she said.  "Everyone knows

      17      you just moved in.  Don't worry about it."

      18             Second lie.

      19             The next week I needed Ms. Dean to sign

      20      paperwork for the department of social services.

      21             She kept asking to come by to see me.

      22             Finally, when she called, she told me the

      23      people who had looked at the house had made an offer

      24      and she'd accepted it.

      25             The new owners wanted to live in my


       1      apartment.

       2             Third lie.

       3             The realtor, Barbara Vitair (ph.), had called

       4      Ms. Dean, who went to the apartment and looked in

       5      the window, even though she went in, to see the mess

       6      I told her about.

       7             The house was not sold, but she was throwing

       8      me out, and she could because I had no lease.

       9             She was disgusted with me, and said she

      10      wouldn't want a ten -- me as a tenant now anyway.

      11             She said she'd give me a reference, but she

      12      never called any landlord back.

      13             Fourth lie.

      14             I begged her, but it was no use.

      15             I was served with eviction papers and given a

      16      move-out date.

      17             My security deposit, I learned this from

      18      landlords, by the way, that you are not getting it

      19      back.

      20             So that last month of rent?  You're not

      21      getting that either.

      22             They taught me that.

      23             I proceeded on a, well, I'm going take good

      24      care of your stuff, you know, so you're going to

      25      give me back my security deposit.


       1             Doesn't happen.

       2             So, through friends, I found another

       3      apartment, some Creatives from Brooklyn, and moved

       4      in there, and then I started noticing itchy bumps on

       5      my arms and legs.

       6             I asked my landlord, "Do cockroaches bite?"

       7             Because we had had a cockroach problem.

       8             "No," he said, "but bedbugs do."

       9             And that was how that nightmare started, and

      10      I bagged and dragged every item; sock, shoe,

      11      dishcloth, pillowcase, dust ruffle, mitten, down two

      12      flights of stairs and spent nine hours in the

      13      laundromat.

      14             Not for the first time.  I would do that

      15      several times over the coming months.

      16             My parents gave me the money to buy the

      17      required mattress covers because I didn't have the

      18      $125.

      19             At the time I was what HUD calls "severely

      20      rent-burdened."  I was paying more than half of my

      21      income in rent.

      22             And the meager bit of money I saved to take

      23      the kids to pizza or a trip to Goodwill went towards

      24      laundry.

      25             My landlord didn't really want to be bothered


       1      letting in exterminators, so he gave them a key.

       2             And because they had a key, they could come

       3      whenever they wanted.  And because they could come

       4      whenever they wanted, they didn't give me notice,

       5      which means I couldn't do the prep.

       6             "I don't think these exterminators are very

       7      good," I said to my landlord.

       8             "If I were you, Betsy, I'd look at myself

       9      before I cast aspersions on others," was his reply.

      10             And for nearly a year I lived in that

      11      apartment with our clothes and towels in bags piled

      12      up in the kitchen.

      13             Well, of course, after the term of the

      14      spraying was up, my landlord didn't believe they

      15      came as often as they did, and there was no way for

      16      him to prove or disprove it because he hadn't been

      17      there.

      18             So, my legal advocate told me I could stop

      19      paying rent and look for a new place to live.

      20             And now it was 2017, and it was a whole

      21      different ballgame.

      22             There were no $1,000, two-bedroom apartments

      23      anymore.

      24             They were 1200, they were 1400, and you

      25      weren't looking at apartments, it was an audition.


       1             But I'm a broke, single mom with two kids,

       2      and I'm not the tenant that anybody wants.

       3             And I couldn't tell anyone why I was moving,

       4      'cause now I had a landlord who was disgusted with

       5      me, a dead landlord, and now a bedbug infestation.

       6             I dragged my kids with me in the hope

       7      somebody might think they're cute.

       8             And every dump I took them to see, no matter

       9      how frayed, damp, dirty, smelly, they would see

      10      possibilities.  They would go, "Wow!" and "Cool!"

      11      with excitement, and they would be charming.

      12             And one day my son Dennis asked me, "Did we

      13      get the apartment?"

      14             "No, sweety," I said, "we didn't."

      15             And his twin brother Conan asked me, "Why

      16      does God hate us?"

      17             And we were served.

      18             My boys missed the first process server, but

      19      they were home for the second one.

      20             Now they were scared, and they went to stay

      21      with their dad while I waged war against the bedbugs

      22      who turned my hair white.

      23             Now I live in Section 8 housing in Hunter,

      24      nearly an hour drive from our lives; our

      25      children's -- my children's schools, my support


       1      networks, my parents, my children's father, and it's

       2      only possible because I have a car.

       3             And, you know, that's not something that you

       4      can take for granted.  Like, not everybody has one.

       5             And -- but without that, I'd be in another

       6      terrible situation with a terrible landlord.

       7             And this is my experience as a tenant in

       8      New York State.

       9             In Ulster County you can apply for Section 8

      10      when they open the waiting list, which is once every

      11      two or three years.

      12             If your name is drawn in that lottery, you

      13      get a place on the waiting list.  You don't get a

      14      Section 8 voucher.

      15             And I've been on that waiting list for

      16      three years.

      17             Every subsidized housing development in

      18      Ulster County maintains a waiting list.

      19             RUPCO, which is the agency that

      20      administrators those grants -- or, those vouchers,

      21      they have buildings.

      22             They have one that's LEED-certified and has

      23      gardens.

      24             They've got one that's a loft they've

      25      converted for artists.


       1             But there's no designated development for

       2      just poor working stiffs, single mothers and their

       3      kids.

       4             And I've been on those waiting lists longer

       5      than the Section 8 waiting lists.

       6             The waiting list is so long that caseworkers

       7      told me that they don't tell tenant -- they don't

       8      tell people about it anymore.

       9             Landlords lie to us, they steal from us, and

      10      they prey on us, because they can.

      11             We're garbage to them.

      12             We are the most vulnerable citizens; the

      13      poor, the disabled, the elderly, single moms and

      14      their kids.

      15             The wolves are at our door.

      16             I shouldn't have to leave this county.  I've

      17      lived here for 40 years.  I was born in Kingston.

      18             We need universal rent control, and we need

      19      protection from frivolous evictions.

      20             I've always been proud to be a New Yorker,

      21      and especially proud to be from New York State, from

      22      Upstate New York.

      23             Aren't we better than this?

      24             Don't upstate tenants deserve the same

      25      protections afforded to our downstate counterparts?


       1             To quote George Bailey, "This rabble you're

       2      talking about, they do most of the working and

       3      paying and living and dying in this community.  And

       4      is it too much to have them work and pay and live

       5      and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?"

       6             I ask you, is it?

       7             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

       8             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  And now we have

       9      Patsy Smith from the Kingston Tenants Union.  She's

      10      one of our new members.

      11             And we also have pictures of her place as

      12      well.

      13             PATSY SMITH:  Hi, I'm Patsy Smith.

      14             I've never done anything like this before,

      15      so, pardon me.  I've only ever doesn't things in

      16      church.

      17             So I'm bold in there, and I'm shaking like a

      18      leaf here.

      19             But I believe all things do happen for a

      20      reason, and since this happened to me, I believe

      21      it's my take to stand up for those who are too

      22      scared to speak up themselves, because, as I speak

      23      to other people in Black Creek where I am from,

      24      under A&M Management, every person almost has the

      25      same response, is that they're scared of getting the


       1      famous 3-day eviction, and they can't afford to be

       2      put out, and they're afraid of being bullied and

       3      they're afraid of being strong-armed.

       4             I didn't think, you know, people could act in

       5      such a manner, but, obviously, they can.

       6             I've had things said to me.

       7             And, obviously, they talk about situations

       8      that are going on that is not my fault.

       9             And, maintenance guys that usually talked to

      10      me and smile, and, you know, have conversations

      11      with, and check on me, are now turning their backs

      12      on me, making sly remarks towards me, knowing that

      13      I can't get to them fast enough to speak to them

      14      direct.

      15             But, when I very first pulled up to

      16      Black Creek, all I could think of was, this place

      17      looks so nice, especially for the price.

      18             And it was advertised for 1175 a month for

      19      the beautiful black-and-white kitchen that they

      20      advertised all over the place.

      21             Everybody had a waiting list to get in this

      22      place, and I needed a place desperately.

      23             You know, having a little girl, I needed to

      24      put a roof over her head, and I thought this place

      25      was beautiful, you know.


       1             And I should have followed my gut feeling

       2      that I had, that it was kind of shady.

       3             I went there three times, driving 30 minutes,

       4      being told I could see the apartment.

       5             And, finally, at last, I said, Do not invite

       6      me to the property until you can show me the

       7      apartment when the tenants are moved out.

       8             We get to the apartment, and she opens the

       9      door, and we walk in, and there's some things lying

      10      around.  So I thought that was kind of odd.

      11             I said, I thought the tenants were moved out.

      12             I looked to the right, and there's a man

      13      laying in his bed, sleeping.

      14             And I was petrified of getting arrested for

      15      breaking and entering with this woman, because

      16      I didn't know this woman.

      17             I shoved her, I ran out as fast as I could,

      18      and I called my husband, scared to death.

      19             I was, like, I don't think the man seen me,

      20      but I don't know.  I seriously don't know what to

      21      do.

      22             Things go on, I go back.

      23             I made sure there was nobody in there.

      24             And it went from 1175, and she knew that we

      25      really needed a place, then it was 1210 a month, all


       1      of a sudden.  And then it was an $1800 deposit, that

       2      we thought was only going to be $800.  And then $100

       3      apiece for us to get background checks.

       4             And, like I said, we were desperate, so we

       5      did it.

       6             And a couple of days later I had told her

       7      that I was leaving town.

       8             My daughter, I had to travel four hours for

       9      her health care, neither here nor there, but she

      10      knew that it was the most important appointment we

      11      had been waiting for since birth.

      12             And she calls me up and says that she's

      13      missing $1,000 of my money that I paid her with, you

      14      know, this -- where it's the one, like, a money

      15      order, where you have the stub.

      16             And I said, "I handed it to you.  We laid it

      17      all out and counted it together.  It was in your

      18      possession.  That's not my fault."

      19             And she said, "So when are you bringing me

      20      $1,000?"

      21             And I said, "You know, that's not happening.

      22      That's your problem."

      23             Well, I have that on video, of her calling me

      24      back the next day, laughing about it, saying,

      25      "I found the $1,000.  It was on the floor in your


       1      hallway.  I'm a very vigilant person.  I know my

       2      surroundings, I'm very well aware."

       3             And I said, "No, it wasn't.  You're lying.

       4      I don't know what your incentive was, or what you're

       5      trying to do, but, you know, that was wrong of you

       6      to do to us."

       7             I came home, and I do not move into a place

       8      unless I Lysol and bleach it.  I have like cleaning

       9      OCD problems.

      10             I walked in.  There's big, fat greasy hands

      11      gliding up my hallway.  And I'm pretty sure it was

      12      done on purpose to intimidate me.  And they even

      13      went into my refrigerator.

      14             I'm pretty sure they were looking for the

      15      stub of the $1,000 that I told her was not my

      16      problem, because she had kept asking for the stub of

      17      the $1,000.

      18             But I had hided that into a special place,

      19      and I have it to this day, just in case if anything

      20      should arise that they're missing $1,000.

      21             And, I've also been informed that I'm not

      22      getting my $1,800 back, or, quote/unquote, I am

      23      seriously not giving you a dime back.

      24             I paid my rent three days early the entire

      25      year.  I keep a very clean home.  There's not even a


       1      scuff on the paint.

       2             But they're angry because of their lack of --

       3      their negligence.

       4             So, like I said, we was lied about

       5      everything.

       6             Carpet shampoo.

       7             We'll give you new blinds.

       8             The lights never had caps on them.

       9             The windows didn't open.

      10             The oven was completely filthy and full of

      11      cleaner.

      12             I almost put a chicken dinner in there to

      13      cook, until, thankfully, I seen that there was

      14      chemicals in there.

      15             I could have poisoned my family, that she

      16      assured me that was cleaned, which I think is

      17      pretty -- pretty low.

      18             So the roof started leaking when the rain

      19      came, and it seemed look a domino effect.

      20             It went from one leak, and me and my husband

      21      to this day joke and say, "They should hand out

      22      buckets with their leasing," because there are so

      23      many leaks in my apartment, it's unbelievable.

      24             And it's a shame that I have to scold my

      25      daughter to either stay in her bedroom or come out


       1      to the living room, because I don't want my daughter

       2      walking underneath a current fall that continually

       3      falls down.

       4             It's not just drip every minute.  It's

       5      continually falling across the whole top of her

       6      doorpost.

       7             And that's not a good feeling, as a mother,

       8      when you have to tell your child you can't play in

       9      your own home.

      10             On top of my dining room table is completely

      11      busted open and pours down.

      12             I have a video of water pouring out of my

      13      light fixture.

      14             And when you call and -- nicely, and say, you

      15      know, "These leaks are happening.  Can you send

      16      somebody out to fix them?" it's never addressed.

      17             They don't want to give names of who's in

      18      charge, who's the big guy.

      19             They don't want to comply with you.

      20             They call on you blocked numbers.

      21             I had to find out the property manager's name

      22      through another tenant, and he calls you blocked

      23      too.

      24             I'm going to skip a lot of this.

      25             We was told to just call them if we didn't


       1      want to sign a lease, March 20th, and that they

       2      would schedule the walk-through to come through, to

       3      get us our deposit.

       4             We called Annette, the secretary of the

       5      property manager, and we was told, "I don't handle

       6      that.  Mike deals with that."

       7             So I said, "Can I please get Mike's number?

       8             "I don't give Mike's number.  Nobody has

       9      Mike's number."

      10             Like I said, I found out his name through

      11      another tenant.

      12             They don't -- they -- they're like secret

      13      service, I guess.

      14             So, you try to even see them on the property,

      15      and they get in their car and they leave as fast as

      16      they can.

      17             I complained for ten months about a banister,

      18      and a railing also.

      19             My daughter has a prosthetic leg, and I have

      20      an autoimmune disorder.  So I have to carry my child

      21      up four flights of steps.

      22             I need these codes.

      23             That's my main problem, is buildings staying

      24      up to code.

      25             When you can't get out to your fire escape,


       1      when your windows don't open, when you have exposed

       2      wires in hallways for over two months and nobody is

       3      working on them, that's things that I have problems

       4      with.

       5             When you're scared to death of walking up the

       6      steps with your daughter, and you don't know, that

       7      you can't hold onto a rail because it's not secure,

       8      that's scary when you have to do that, especially,

       9      as a diabetic, when you're not feeling well, and

      10      you're in charge of a little life in your arms.

      11             You know, and you have to beg them, and they

      12      don't call you back.

      13             They don't comply with you.  They don't fix

      14      anything.

      15             It took me calling a building inspector to

      16      come out because, now I've had enough, and I just

      17      don't care.

      18             And I told him to put my name on the building

      19      inspector.

      20             That's when they finally wanted to address

      21      the lack of the fire -- the fire detectors, none of

      22      them worked, none of them was hooked up, and there

      23      was only one.  And there's supposed to be one in

      24      every room.

      25             And, my husband had fell in April.


       1             There was no lights in the hallway.

       2             I called for a month, every two days.  And

       3      what I get told from E&M Management is, Don't worry

       4      about it.  It will be fixed.

       5             The shared meter is being addressed as we

       6      speak.

       7             I called Central Hudson.  They say, they've

       8      been calling, they've been writing.  There's no

       9      answer from them.  There's no compliance there.  And

      10      they're not returning phone calls.  They haven't

      11      reached out to them.

      12             And then the lights go out, and then guess

      13      what?

      14             My husband's walking in, and, you know, he,

      15      literally, like, if this is the step, his foot was

      16      here (indicating).

      17             So, naturally, you would put your hand on a

      18      banister; correct?

      19             The banister that's on top of like a wall

      20      here (indicating), he put his hand on it, and it

      21      flipped up like this (indicating), hitting him,

      22      knocking him down.

      23             I told them, I'm not trying to be nasty, but

      24      I think we at least, you know, deserve medical.

      25             I was told, "It's completely against


       1      protocol, and it is against the law," which I have

       2      all of that on video also, "to give you our

       3      insurance information.  Insurance claims do not talk

       4      to tenants.  Insurance claim will not reach out to

       5      you at all."

       6             Like I said, I only have a seventh-grade

       7      education, but any time I got in an accident,

       8      insurance claims ask you, Was you texting?  Did you

       9      have your seatbelt on?

      10             So -- but after I called the building

      11      inspector, miraculously, an insurance-claim agent

      12      called my husbanded and says, "I've been trying to

      13      get your information for over a month now."

      14             And my husband said, "Just out of curiosity,

      15      when did you get my phone number?"

      16             And he said, "An hour ago."

      17             And that's about when the building inspector,

      18      you know, had sent the report, with my name on it,

      19      that I wanted on there.

      20             There's six violations in my apartment alone.

      21             And there's also exposed wires in every

      22      building for over two months.  They're not working

      23      on them.

      24             That's -- the codes need to be assessed.

      25             I shouldn't have to complain when I'm paying


       1      you.  I'm not living there for free.

       2             And I don't think that any of us should have

       3      to take it that far for somebody to do what they're

       4      already supposed to do that is right.

       5             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you all.

       6             We will just take -- I'll defer to other

       7      members of the panel first.

       8             Anybody want to -- Senator Metzger, do you

       9      want to --

      10             SENATOR METZGER:  I just want thank you for

      11      your testimony.

      12             I don't represent Kingston, but I feel like

      13      I represent Kingston.

      14             I'm right next door, and in Rosendale, and

      15      incredibly aware of, you know, what's happening

      16      there, in terms of housing, you know, and

      17      gentrification, which is putting such a huge

      18      pressure on affordable housing in Kingston.

      19             But to hear the firsthand accounts of these

      20      kinds of practices, these kinds of entirely

      21      unacceptable practices, is so important.

      22             So, I appreciate you being here, and I want

      23      to just thank you for your testimony.

      24             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  Do you know that

      25      E&M Management is about to come to Rosendale?


       1             So, hello, you'll be with us.

       2             They're about to buy a property there.

       3             RASHIDA TYLER:  Also, the effect -- also, the

       4      effects and the gentrification are not only in

       5      Kingston.

       6             We're using Kingston as an example.

       7             But, when people are pushed out of the city

       8      center, they're moving to the suburbs, and they're

       9      moving to places where the forces of gentrification

      10      are -- there's a ripple effect.

      11             And so this is going to impact rural

      12      communities, whether people think of it or not.

      13             And then people who have a higher demand for

      14      services are being pushed out into rural areas that

      15      don't have these services.

      16             The rate of poverty is going to increase.

      17             And, so, this is something that's going to

      18      impact all of us.

      19             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Senator Mayer.

      20             SENATOR MAYER:  I just want to thank you, and

      21      also want to give you credit for forming the tenants

      22      union, because that's obviously been a source of

      23      power that you wouldn't have had otherwise.

      24             And while we're going to work on legislative

      25      solutions that address non-New York City --


       1      I represent Westchester where we have rent

       2      stabilization -- but, above Westchester, where, in

       3      my opinion, we need rent protections, and I think

       4      you'll find we agree with you.

       5             Thank you for your testimony.

       6             Thank you for -- keep the tenants union

       7      going, whatever happens.

       8             The power is in numbers.

       9             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  Thank you.

      10             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you, Senator Mayer.

      11             Senator Salazar.

      12             SENATOR SALAZAR:  Thank you.

      13             First, I just want to thank all four of you

      14      for your testimony.

      15             Thank you for your courage as well, Patsy.

      16             And, I find it remarkable how patient your

      17      daughter has been, truly.

      18             So, thank you.

      19             I found it interesting that both Betsy and --

      20      Betsy and Patsy, that you both mentioned RUPCO.

      21             We have a representative from RUPCO on the

      22      witness list, and I look forward to talking to them

      23      about some of the things you mentioned in your

      24      testimony.

      25             Juanita, I wanted to ask you -- and thank you


       1      for sharing your story -- some of -- I've heard from

       2      some of my colleagues, particularly with regard to

       3      expanding tenant protections to those who currently

       4      have, virtually, none outside of the ETPA region,

       5      that, by giving tenants rights in the eviction

       6      process, we will flood the courts.

       7             I'm naturally not sympathetic to this, but,

       8      regardless, feel that it warrants a response.

       9             As somebody who has gone through the eviction

      10      process, and to court, could you just walk us

      11      through, if you don't mind, what that process was

      12      like for you as a tenant, without having passed this

      13      legislation.

      14             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  Sure.

      15             I had no rights.

      16             When I went to complain about a landlord, we

      17      don't have a tenant-landlord court.

      18             It's only a landlord court.

      19             They told me, if I wanted anything to be

      20      done, I had to sue him myself.

      21             And when I got the eviction notice, I went to

      22      see a judge to try to get a stay.

      23             And there was no judge for me.

      24             And I stood at that courthouse, and I said,

      25      Someone has to see me so that they can hear my case.


       1             And they said, No.

       2             And I stood there, until they made a phone

       3      call.

       4             I said, I don't care who you get, the

       5      magistrate, I don't care who it is, somebody.

       6             It took an entire day just to get a judge to

       7      sign my stay, then to overturn it, due to the fact

       8      that, when I first went to court and I asked legal

       9      aid to please let them know the reason why I'm

      10      fighting was because I had no repairs, it was not

      11      mentioned to the judge, so it wasn't put in writing.

      12             So the judge says, I'm not going to see your

      13      evidence.  You're evicted immediately.

      14             And I was.

      15             So there was nothing for me.

      16             No matter where I went to try to get the

      17      help, there was none.

      18             I couldn't, no judge, nobody to speak to.

      19             So, for a tenant to try to fight their

      20      eviction, it was hard, and I went through the whole

      21      process.

      22             Like I said, you went to the courthouse, no

      23      one was -- no one there to see you.

      24             It's only on a Tuesday.

      25             And usually the landlords, when they go to


       1      put an eviction notice, they immediately get to see

       2      someone.

       3             So they'll get that, and then they'll get the

       4      eviction notice, and then they'll go put it on your

       5      apartment.

       6             But for a tenant to go in, there is nothing

       7      at all.  We have nothing.

       8             And if you go to the buildings, they go and

       9      tell the landlord, and then you get an eviction

      10      notice immediately, and it's a retaliation for your

      11      speaking out.

      12             And then the building says, Well, there's

      13      nothing I can do.

      14             And that's another thing that happens as

      15      well.

      16             They go and look at you, and they don't even

      17      give a fine.

      18             I actually have a court order, that they were

      19      supposed to take my landlords to court, and they

      20      never did.

      21             They were supposed to remedy the problem back

      22      in August of 2018.  And never to -- I got evicted a

      23      week ago.

      24             They never took those landlords to court.

      25             There's a failure in this process here, and


       1      we need the help.

       2             SENATOR SALAZAR:  Thank you.

       3             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  Thank you.

       4             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

       5             Senator Skoufis.

       6             SENATOR SKOUFIS:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

       7             And thanks to each of you for your testimony.

       8             You know, a lot of these issues we've been

       9      debating for now some time, and it's helpful to be

      10      able to put faces to that public policy.

      11             Right?

      12             And so I am grateful for your being here.

      13             And to Senator Mayer's points, I think it's

      14      both impressive and, quite frankly, essential, by

      15      the sounds of it, that you have this tenants union

      16      in Kingston.

      17             And so I encourage you to keep doing that as

      18      well.

      19             My one question, one item that is new to me,

      20      in terms of hearing it from advocates, and even sort

      21      of institutionally, we haven't really discussed

      22      this, at least in those places where I've been part

      23      of the conversation, is this issue of security

      24      deposits.

      25             And so, you know, leases that I've seen,


       1      typically, at the end of the lease, there's

       2      something, you know, okay, this is the dollar amount

       3      that's security deposit.  Sometimes it's, you know,

       4      first and last month, sometimes one month, whatever

       5      it is.

       6             And then there's, you know, some sentence, or

       7      a couple of sentences, you know, you'll get the

       8      security deposit back at the conclusion of the lease

       9      as long as, you know, or, minus, like, any damages,

      10      or whatever.

      11             Right?

      12             And so under what authority do these

      13      landlords have, in the couple of cases that have --

      14      that has been brought up, to withhold returning that

      15      security deposit?

      16             And -- so, look, I guess, you know, anyone

      17      can sort of willfully not follow the lease.  Right?

      18             But then don't you have sort of legal

      19      recourse?

      20             Can't you hire a lawyer and say, you know --

      21             BETSY KRAAT:  I could have gone to small

      22      claims court.

      23             That was -- that was -- you know, with the --

      24      like, with the first landlord, I didn't even include

      25      this, he told me, well, there's no -- because, you


       1      know, this was the ex-husband of my landlord who

       2      died.

       3             He said, Well, there's no record of your

       4      security deposit.

       5             And I said, Well, it will be held in escrow.

       6      You should be able to find it.

       7             You know, and once I said that, he didn't

       8      fight me and he gave me my money back.

       9             But every other -- you know, I could have

      10      taken her to court, but, you know, I can't even --

      11      I don't even know what to say.

      12             Like, two of the other people who -- like,

      13      who are responsible for Kingston Tenants Union are

      14      property owners.

      15             And I think that that's great because, when

      16      you're trying to survive, like you're -- you only

      17      have, like I have a child with autism.  You know,

      18      there are limited hours in a day.

      19             So I just thought, screw it.

      20             You know, so she kept my money.

      21             You know, I did live there for most of the

      22      month, whatever, you know, even though she threw me

      23      out.

      24             You know, I just didn't have the -- I didn't

      25      have it in me to fight.


       1             You know, because so much of life, so much of

       2      being poor, is fighting, and you have to prioritize

       3      what you have the hours, you know, the strength,

       4      for.

       5             And I just didn't have it at that time.

       6             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  Again, in

       7      Ulster County, up in Kingston, actually, and I've

       8      known, in Ellenville, and a couple of other places,

       9      what happens is, they tell you, if you want your

      10      security deposit back, you need to go sue your

      11      landlord.

      12             That is the answer we get in courts.

      13             They don't even -- they don't even discuss it

      14      at eviction time.

      15             They go, You want your security deposit?  Go

      16      sue them.

      17             Half these people don't have the money to go

      18      pay $45.

      19             So we have to sue them to get security.

      20             We have no laws to protect us on that as

      21      well.

      22             New Paltz passed a security-deposit law that

      23      we're trying to bring to Kingston, that we've been

      24      trying to get legislation, and now officials, and

      25      now locals, to come on board with that.


       1             At least that gives something to the tenant.

       2             I mean, that's what we're trying to work on.

       3             RASHIDA TYLER:  I think also that, there's a

       4      culture in Upstate New York, particularly

       5      Ulster County where I can speak to, where there's a

       6      certain class of people who get evicted.

       7             And they -- the people who are landlords and

       8      judges and lawyers in court, they know they're not

       9      going to bring a lawsuit, a civil suit, to get that

      10      security deposit back.

      11             So it's a culture where it's, you're out of

      12      luck.

      13             You're better off living the last month, not

      14      paying the rent, and, you know, having the landlord

      15      keep the security deposit, because you know that's

      16      what they're going to do anyway.

      17             I think that we do need a law that definitely

      18      is enforceable, and that landlords have to return a

      19      security deposit within a defined amount of time.

      20             We know that there's law that says 28 days,

      21      or something like that.  But, that doesn't happen in

      22      reality.

      23             So we need something a little bit -- that's

      24      going to compel landlords to comply.

      25             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  There's also an


       1      article that is under the "Real Deal," that was

       2      written by -- oh, my God, it's going too slow.

       3             PATSY SMITH:  It's still loading.

       4             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  Yeah.

       5             -- it's written by Georgina --

       6             RASHIDA TYLER:  Comrie.

       7             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  -- Comrie.

       8             If you have a chance to read it, you actually

       9      hear the response of these landlords, on how they

      10      can take advantage of us, because we're Upstate

      11      New York and there's no rules.

      12             And you'll even hear a sheriff department --

      13      from the sheriff's department, the one in charge of

      14      evictions, he's also quoted in here, and not in a

      15      very good way.

      16             So if you get a chance to read that article,

      17      it will tell you what's going on in Kingston in

      18      Upstate New York, and it's pretty accurate.

      19             SENATOR SKOUFIS:  Thank you.

      20             JUANITA VALESQUEZ-AMADOR:  Thank you.

      21             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  We just have a -- maybe a

      22      quick follow-up, reminding people that we're a

      23      couple of hours late.

      24             But, Senator Metzger.

      25             SENATOR METZGER:  No, I was just going to say


       1      that this kind points to a different problem, even

       2      with the good-cause bill, if you don't have the

       3      resources, the legal resources, to go to court.

       4             So I think that that's another issue that

       5      needs to be looked quite apart from this

       6      legislation.

       7             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

       8             And, Senator Salazar, one more.

       9             SENATOR SALAZAR:  No, that's okay.

      10             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay.

      11             And I -- so --

      12             PATSY SMITH:  Sorry, I just --

      13             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  30 seconds.

      14             PATSY SMITH:  30 seconds.

      15             When you speak to RUPCO, something that I'm

      16      really interested in, that we haven't been able to

      17      get an answer about, is, when the Section 8 voucher

      18      is issued, whether it's used or not, it's counted

      19      towards the allotment, you know.

      20             So when -- so when, Alex, one of the other

      21      founders of Kingston Tenants Union, asked the

      22      executive director of RUPCO, Well, how do you -- you

      23      know, so you go next down the list; right?  Like,

      24      you know how many of them are being used; right?

      25             And the answer was, no, we don't know how


       1      many are being used.

       2             So I've FOIL'd Section 8 records since 2013,

       3      and I'm waiting for that.  That was on May 15th.

       4             But I'm curious as to what records they keep,

       5      and if they find somebody that's not using the

       6      voucher, why do they not go down the list?

       7             Because there are, what, there are, I think

       8      he said, there are 200 families on the waiting list

       9      for Section 8 vouchers in Ulster County.

      10             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Great.

      11             Okay, again, we really appreciate your

      12      testimony and your patience today.

      13             Thank you, all.

      14             And for one or two of you who said you aren't

      15      used to this, you did, you know, very -- you were

      16      very, very helpful to this panel.

      17             So, thank you, we really appreciate it.

      18             So next up -- we're going to hear a variety

      19      of perspectives today.

      20             Next, we are going to have, Nick Page, who's

      21      a member of the Dutchess County Legislature, and

      22      also I think representing progressive legislators

      23      from other localities as well.

      24             And then --

      25             Thank you.


       1             NICK PAGE:  Thank you.

       2             Thank you.

       3             Good afternoon, everybody.

       4             My name is Nick Page.  I'm a member of the

       5      Dutchess County Legislature, representing Beacon and

       6      Fishkill.

       7             Thanks for giving our area a convenient

       8      opportunity to be heard on this issue -- on these

       9      issues.  It's great.

      10             Today I'm going to read a statement on behalf

      11      of the local elected-officials network, Local

      12      Progress New York, and specifically on behalf of

      13      Francena Amparo, my colleague on the Dutchess

      14      Legislature, representing the town of Wappinger, and

      15      a member of the local Progress New York Organizing

      16      Committee, and, Chad Raddick (ph.), who's the

      17      New York State coordinator of Local Progress.

      18             The statement is as follows:

      19             "Our network.

      20             "Local Progress New York, we are a network of

      21      local elected officials across New York State,

      22      united by our commitment to share prosperity, equal

      23      justice under law, livable and sustainable

      24      communities, and good government that serves the

      25      public interest.


       1             "Building a more just and equitable society

       2      requires an engaged citizenry, strong institutions,

       3      and elected leaders who are dedicated to advancing

       4      the progressive movement.

       5             "We commit ourselves to this work in

       6      partnership with community leaders and progressive

       7      organizations around the state because we share a

       8      belief that, by organizing together, we can build a

       9      more just and equitable society.

      10             "Our membership is approximately 200 local

      11      elected officials statewide, representing cities,

      12      towns, villages, counties, school boards, and more,

      13      from Niagara Falls to South Hampton, and from

      14      Binghamton to Plattsburgh.

      15             "Local Progress members meet each year at a

      16      state convening.

      17             "At our last event we held a discussion about

      18      affordable housing in New York State, as it had been

      19      issue our members felt needed more exploration by

      20      the network.

      21             "This year, our organizing committee, our

      22      governance body for the New York Chapter of

      23      Local Progress, decided that members should work

      24      together to protect renters across the Empire State.

      25             "Resolutions across New York.


       1             "Local Progress members from New Paltz,

       2      Hudson, Newburgh, and Beacon passed local

       3      resolutions supporting the expansion of the ETPA and

       4      the good-cause eviction bill.

       5             "Similar legislation is proposed in

       6      Westchester County, Ithaca, Syracuse, Rochester,

       7      Kingston, and Albany, and Local Progress members are

       8      ready to take leading roles.

       9             "In all of these areas, renters represent

      10      between 45 to 75 percent of the residents.

      11             "Many of these communities are also under a

      12      5 percent housing vacancy rate, and, by state law,

      13      are considered to be experiencing a housing crisis.

      14             "If the ETPA were extended outside of the

      15      eight counties that have currently been authorized

      16      by the State Legislature, all of these areas would

      17      be able to allow their local officials to make a

      18      decision as to whether to opt in to the ETPA and

      19      help to stabilize rent costs for thousands of

      20      upstate families.

      21             "Rents are rising in our communities faster

      22      than wages, and displacement of residents is a

      23      concern of many Local Progress members.

      24             "In all of the areas that have passed or are

      25      considering passing resolutions of support, 45 to


       1      60 percent of renters are facing unaffordable rents,

       2      defined as, rents, again, that are more than

       3      30 percent of a family's income.

       4             "So this is a crisis not only among those in

       5      the metro New York City area, but to upstate renters

       6      as well.

       7             "Renters are more than 60 percent of the

       8      residents in Albany, Kingston, Newburgh,

       9      Plattsburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Syracuse,

      10      Troy, and Wappingers Falls.

      11             And in these areas, renters paying more than

      12      30 percent of their monthly income in rent range

      13      from 65 to 45 percent, in Albany, Kingston,

      14      Plattsburgh, Syracuse, and Troy.

      15             The 60 percent and above of renters in the

      16      communities of Newburgh, right here; Poughkeepsie;

      17      Rochester; and Wappinger Falls.

      18             "The rent-burden issue is even worse when you

      19      disaggregate the data and explore how rent burdens

      20      grow among renters of color in the Empire State.

      21             "In a recent report by the Fiscal Policy

      22      Institute, renters of color are disproportionately

      23      rent-burdened compared to White households.

      24             "According to the report, only 37 percent of

      25      White renter families are rent-burdened statewide,


       1      compared to 46 percent of African-Americans,

       2      53 percent of Latinx, and 52 percent of Asian and

       3      other families.

       4             "Another issue that is brought into focus by

       5      the housing crisis in New York State is the

       6      staggering number of low-income renters; for

       7      example, a family of three, with an income at or

       8      below $40,000 a year, who are paying more than the

       9      30 percent threshold of their incomes towards rent.

      10             "The federal government has determined that

      11      that 30 percent threshold, paying above that,

      12      is unsustainable for any household, yet in

      13      New York State, 42 percent of low-income renters are

      14      paying more than one-half of their incomes in rent,

      15      and almost four out of five low-income renter

      16      families are paying more than 30 percent of their

      17      incomes in rent.

      18             "Availability of affordable housing.

      19             "According to a report we are co-authoring

      20      with the Community Service Society of New York,

      21      available affordable units have fallen in the state

      22      by 10 percent, from 2012 to 2017, with big

      23      percentage losses of affordable units in

      24      Suffolk County and in the Hudson Valley.

      25             "In 2012, rents up to $924 a month were


       1      considered affordable for a family of three making

       2      $40,000 a year.

       3             "And for the same demographic in 2017,

       4      affordability was determined to be $988.

       5             "The state of renter protection in New York

       6      State.

       7             "Renters without leases living in

       8      month-to-month rentals have no right in New York

       9      State to remain in their homes.

      10             Even renters with leases have found that it

      11      is easier for the landlord to evict than to hold the

      12      property owner accountable for conditions within the

      13      unit.

      14             "Many Local Progress members have shared

      15      stories about constituents who have been forced

      16      out of their homes in the Hudson Valley, the

      17      Capital Region, and in Rochester due to the lack of

      18      rights for tenants in New York.

      19             "Because people of color are more apt to be

      20      in low-income households, not only do they pay a

      21      higher percentage of their monthly incomes for rent,

      22      but they often live in housing that is not of the

      23      highest quality.

      24             "For example, recently, at a renter town hall

      25      that was held in Wappingers, one renter in


       1      Wappingers Falls described finding her unit infested

       2      with mold that ruined her wardrobe, her furniture,

       3      and other possessions.  She had to involve the

       4      county health department, and then needed to find

       5      new housing because her housing was declared unsafe.

       6             "Legislative proposals before the State

       7      Legislature.

       8             "Local Progress supports all nine of the

       9      bills on the Upstate/Downstate Housing Alliance's

      10      legislative platform.

      11             "The two bills to -- most important to areas

      12      north of New York City are the expanding the

      13      Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974 to encompass

      14      the entire state, and the good-cause eviction bill.

      15             Expanding the ETPA to cover all communities

      16      within the state affords local control to our

      17      municipalities and counties over their rental

      18      apartments.

      19             "Throughout the state, thousands of units

      20      could be stabilized, thereby creating a secure

      21      permanent home for good tenants.

      22             "In all of the communities listed above,

      23      again, Albany, Kingston, Newburgh, Plattsburgh,

      24      Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Syracuse, Troy, and

      25      Wappingers Falls, the vacancy rate is below


       1      5 percent.

       2             "This means that in all of the areas most

       3      hard-hit by the statewide housing crisis, they would

       4      find relief with this proposal.

       5             "The second bill that we're most interested

       6      in, the good-cause eviction bill, would only allow

       7      landlords to evict tenants who have violated terms

       8      of their lease, or have not paid rent, or have

       9      caused damage to the property, while allowing

      10      renters the ability to hold landlords accountable

      11      for building conditions.

      12             "In addition, the rent would stop

      13      unconscionable rent hikes.

      14             "Currently, if a landlord insists, an upstate

      15      renter has no recourse but to move out of a

      16      situation if they're unable to field a major rent

      17      increase, or, if the landlord is asking for a more

      18      reasonable rent increase, but also requiring that

      19      the tenant bear the cost of maintaining the

      20      functionality and living conditions of the

      21      property."

      22             We ask you to support these bills.

      23             Thank you, appreciate it.

      24             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you very much for

      25      your testimony, and your colleagues throughout.


       1             You know, we've had meetings with local

       2      departments before, and we really appreciate all of

       3      your -- you know, your work.

       4             Thank you.

       5             NICK PAGE:  Thank you, sir.

       6             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  So next up --

       7             We are trying to accommodate many people's

       8      schedules, and we know people have been here for a

       9      while.

      10             -- I'm going to ask Carla Johnson to come up.

      11             And then I know we have some additional

      12      people from CVH that we're going to do a little bit

      13      later.

      14             But, we're just trying to accommodate a

      15      couple of people who need to leave for very -- for

      16      family obligations.

      17             CARLA JOHNSON:  Hello.

      18             My name is Carla Johnson, a city of Newburgh

      19      resident since 2012, a CVH member for the past year

      20      and a half now.

      21             I had moved to Newburgh in 2012 from New York

      22      City.  I moved here for a change, a difference.

      23             Living here in the city of Newburgh, I have

      24      moved nine times due to the fact that, when you make

      25      complaints to your land -- about the landlord to


       1      codes enforcement, you are immediately given --

       2      well, in some cases, you're given a 30-day notice,

       3      and then a 3-day notice, or, just the landlord may

       4      say, you have to go.

       5             My first two apartments I was evicted out of.

       6             By the third one I got smart.

       7             When I say "I got smart," it was, I would

       8      take the landlord to court, because in the city of

       9      Newburgh, since there's no tenant protection, if the

      10      landlord brings you to court, you're automatically

      11      evicted even if you don't owe any rent money.

      12             So, in my case, I have a 4-year-old who

      13      haven't been living in an apartment for a whole

      14      year.  She moved four times, and she's 4.

      15             We finally got good housing, which has a

      16      possibility of lead, which you may have heard me

      17      coughing throughout the whole day, is because of my

      18      asthma.

      19             The reason why good-cause is good for the

      20      city of Newburgh is because it gives young children

      21      a stable home, a stable place to live.

      22             We're forced out of our apartments and put in

      23      shelters.

      24             I lived in a shelter with my daughter for one

      25      night because living there was just horrible.


       1             And the city is a wonderful city.  The city

       2      of Newburgh is a great city.

       3             Minus all of the abandoned buildings and

       4      different things that's going on, it's a beautiful,

       5      upcoming city, and it's a great city.

       6             And I would like to thank Jonathan Jacobson

       7      for signing all nine bills for the good-cause,

       8      because he sat on our city council and he heard

       9      numerous people complain about the poor conditions.

      10             And to piggyback earlier, with the landlords

      11      that were up here, the landlords, basically, bully

      12      tenants.

      13             The landlords took the City of Newburgh to

      14      court, and once you take a person to court you're

      15      the winner even though you may not be the winner.

      16             So I just feel that good-cause is great

      17      because, I rented a building that was condemned;

      18      condemnation, rat infestation.

      19             And when I moved in the property, I heard one

      20      of the landlords say, like, yeah, when you go in an

      21      apartment you look for all of these things.  You

      22      make sure there's working hot water.  You make sure

      23      there's heat.  You make sure -- you even move the

      24      stove out to make sure they no holes so the rodents

      25      wouldn't run around.


       1             And I want to go to codes enforcement.

       2             The problem that I believe that we have is a

       3      lack of code enforcers here.

       4             Why I say that, I believe that, is because

       5      they do go -- once a tenant makes a report against

       6      the landlord, say you have mold, say you have

       7      bedbugs, whatever the problem is, and you bring it

       8      to a higher authority as the code enforcement, they

       9      go and they inspect the apartment and they write the

      10      violation.  Once the violation is written, the

      11      landlord then puts you out.

      12             So if you have mold, for instance, if you

      13      have mold, and you complain to codes, and they come

      14      out, they write the violation, the landlord then

      15      retaliates against you, and then they smack the

      16      cheap paint up on the walls and move another tenant

      17      in.

      18             So once the new tenant is in there, the case

      19      is basically closed for the codes, because it's no

      20      one to investigate.

      21             Like, Carla, did they fix the problem?

      22             Oh, I don't live there anymore.

      23             So I think that the code -- the reason why we

      24      need the good-cause is, is because it secures homes

      25      for children.  It secures a foundation for someone.


       1             I spent $46,000 since 2012 to slumlords here

       2      in the city of Newburgh.

       3             Not every landlord is a bad landlord, but the

       4      majority of the landlords are horrible.  And it's,

       5      like, you give them -- they want cash.  Some

       6      landlords want cash money.

       7             I gave them $2,000 to a landlord outside for

       8      a condemned condemnation.

       9             And when I went to codes, I went and did like

      10      a FOIA request, because now I'm interested about

      11      what's going on with the building.

      12             The landlord owes the City of Newburgh over

      13      $250,000 in fines.

      14             So I just think that, if your building is not

      15      up to codes, you shouldn't get anything.

      16             The tenants should put maybe their money in

      17      the escrow account until the landlord is up to date

      18      on codes.

      19             And I think that the -- the codes shouldn't

      20      give landlords these rental license if they have

      21      more than one or two violations, because I can say,

      22      Senator Skoufis, I'm going to fix the problem.  Just

      23      give me the rental license.

      24             And it's not necessarily that I fixed the

      25      problem, but I have the rental license.


       1             And that's where the ball gets dropped, that

       2      we need more code enforcement, we need more code

       3      officers to follow up.

       4             And Chief Horton is doing an outstanding job.

       5             I did a petition on our last codes person,

       6      Steve Hunter.  And he was later told that, you know,

       7      he was going to retire, and Chief Horton stepped up,

       8      and he's doing a great job.

       9             But the main fact is, it's the whole

      10      statewide, it's a statewide thing.

      11             It's nine bills that need to be signed.

      12             Some say, oh, they signed four or five of

      13      them, and a lot of stuff doesn't apply to the city

      14      of Newburgh, but it's a statewide thing, as far as

      15      tenants being protected all around the board.

      16             I believe that, my child is 4 years old, and

      17      she hasn't been in an apartment for a whole year,

      18      and that's not fair to her.

      19             Like, one minute, oh, we live at -- you

      20      teach them one address, and then you have to teach

      21      them another address.

      22             So I just feel that, we need good-cause, and

      23      we need to crack down on these landlords who is

      24      taking advantage of us.

      25             I moved here from New York City.  I worked


       1      for the parks department, for security, for

       2      15 years.

       3             And I want to buy a home here in the city of

       4      Newburgh, but, at the moment, I can't afford the

       5      high taxes.  So I have to rent.

       6             And so when you renting something,

       7      I shouldn't have to rent a rat-infestation

       8      apartment, I shouldn't have to rent a

       9      mold-infestation, I shouldn't have to -- I should be

      10      able to rent a beautiful apartment, when, my

      11      landlord, they live out in Marlboro, and they got

      12      the fancy cars and big houses, and they live in --

      13      high on the people here in the city of Newburgh.

      14             And we live like -- some of the people live

      15      like savages here, I'm going to be honest with you.

      16             There's so many people that come to our

      17      community, voices heard, and it makes you want to

      18      cry.

      19             And the reason why they don't say anything is

      20      because they're in fear of the retaliation.

      21             The retaliation here in the city of Newburgh,

      22      is, if you go to codes, you getting out.

      23             So I wanted to know, if you guys, if you

      24      haven't done it already, if you could just pass the

      25      good-cause here for us, because you don't know how


       1      many people you're going to help.

       2             And with the good-cause, it's not going to

       3      not make landlords want to invest here, make people

       4      invest here.

       5             It's just protecting the tenants who is

       6      really the important people here.

       7             So, that's all I wanted to say.

       8             And, again, thank you for having this

       9      hearing, and you guys have a good day.

      10             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you very much.

      11             And thank you again for your patience as

      12      well.

      13             So next up we are going to have

      14      Michele McKeon (ph.) of RUPCO (sic).

      15             MICHELE McKEON:  My testimony has already

      16      been submitted.

      17             My name is Michele McKeon, and I am the chief

      18      operating officer of the Regional Economic Community

      19      Action Program.

      20             Since 1965, RECAP has been the

      21      State-designated antipoverty program for

      22      Orange County.  We serve seniors, veterans, victims

      23      of domestic violence, individuals living with HIV

      24      and AIDS, people with substance-use disorder, and

      25      anyone living below the poverty line.


       1             Our program (indiscernible) includes

       2      Head-Start; workforce development, like the Fresh

       3      Start and Mill Streak cafes; parole reentry;

       4      residential and non-residential treatment facilities

       5      for drug and alcohol; nutrition and advocacy; and,

       6      of course, housing.

       7             In 2018, we were awarded 40 units of the

       8      Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative housing

       9      for victims of domestic violence and/or

      10      substance-use disorder.

      11             20 units are slated for the city of Newburgh,

      12      and 20 units are slated for the city of Newburgh.

      13             There are a few things to note.

      14             According to the New York State Community

      15      Action Association, New York State has a poverty

      16      rate of 15.1 percent, with women-headed households

      17      living in poverty at 37.4 percent.

      18             Orange County's poverty rate is 12.6 percent,

      19      with 31.8 households, with women-head households

      20      with children living in it, at that rate.

      21             When we look at our two biggest cities,

      22      17.3 percent and 32.2 percent poverty rate for

      23      Middletown and Newburgh, respectively, the

      24      women-headed household rate with children present is

      25      50.6 percent and 55.6 percent, respectively.


       1             If you imagine for a moment those numbers,

       2      and the people, the children, behind those numbers,

       3      we should all be horrified, or at least curious, as

       4      to why they are living in poverty.

       5             While county employment is low, employment in

       6      liveable-wage jobs is still elusive in this county.

       7             Liveable-wage jobs in the city are almost

       8      non-existent.  And where jobs are offered for better

       9      pay and, importantly, with benefits, transportation

      10      and child care is, at best, challenging, and at

      11      worst, non-existent.

      12             Both cities are also food deserts with

      13      healthy nutritional foods difficult to come by.

      14             And it is very safe to say that food pantries

      15      and soup kitchens outnumber, by double digits,

      16      grocery stores.

      17             And the food pantries locally do consistent

      18      business, briskly, monthly, repeatedly.

      19             Our cities in particular, in particular

      20      Newburgh, struggle with environmental concerns,

      21      including the poisoning of our water, lead and

      22      asbestos in buildings, and crumbling infrastructure.

      23             All of the aforementioned determine the

      24      health of a community, the health of a city.  They

      25      are the social determinants of health.


       1             And one I have yet to mention is housing.

       2             We are beyond a housing crisis.

       3             We must look at New York City, but we must

       4      look beyond the borders of The Bronx and

       5      Westchester, into our suburbs, all the way upstate.

       6             This is not just a New York City problem.

       7             When I worked in Albany as the CEO of the

       8      New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

       9      we talked about New York City and rest of state.

      10             To make sure we don't leave those people

      11      behind, we must make sure that rent regulations and

      12      tenant protections expand beyond New York City.

      13             This homeless housing crisis is far-reaching

      14      and having devastating effects on communities.

      15             Housing is health.

      16             Housing is health care.

      17             Safe, affordable housing improves the lives

      18      of individuals, families, neighbors, community, and

      19      beyond.

      20             We can no longer operate "not in my

      21      backyard."

      22             Our 20-unit program in the city of Middletown

      23      has been told by the mayor, there is no way he is

      24      having more affordable housing being built in the

      25      city of Middletown, and we have to return that money


       1      to the State because we cannot get approval to build

       2      in the city of Middletown.

       3             We don't have the luxury of the kind of time

       4      to wait for other people to start paying attention.

       5             Every night in my county people sleep

       6      outside.

       7             And as someone who led a point-in-time count

       8      this year, none of you, nor me, would ever want to

       9      sleep in some of the places we visited where people

      10      actually sleep every night.

      11             We visited abandoned houses, where there are

      12      600 abandoned houses in the city of Newburgh, with

      13      boarded-up windows, broken into, with mattresses,

      14      food, unsafe lighting, and unsafe heating equipment,

      15      and padlocks on bedroom doors to keep people safe.

      16             We spoke with people who were just wandering

      17      the streets, looking for a warm spot in the biting

      18      cold.  It was 28 degrees that night.

      19             We gave out hats, food, scarves, socks, and

      20      information, and tried to engage people in the

      21      process of finding housing.

      22             None of this is easy.

      23             Add mental health, substance use, domestic

      24      violence, trauma, and poverty, and it's overwhelming

      25      to access the help offered, and, let's face it, our


       1      systems are not exactly user-friendly.

       2             Safe, affordable housing is a right.

       3             While in Orange County we have low-income

       4      housing, it is not enough, and if there are -- there

       5      is real confusion about the different types of

       6      housing.

       7             There is low-income housing, there is

       8      affordable housing, and there is market-rate

       9      housing.

      10             We have some amazing organizations doing some

      11      good work.

      12             We provide permanent housing.

      13             RUPCO's Phase 2 is moving along.

      14             Habitat is doing their work.

      15             But, to be honest, the people that we serve

      16      at RECAP can't afford RUPCO's apartments.  They

      17      cannot afford houses from Habitat.

      18             We work with people who get a $412 housing

      19      allowance from the department of social services.

      20             Think about your own rent and mortgages, and

      21      where you could possibly access housing, safe,

      22      affordable, clean housing, for $412.

      23             That's why our SEs are so important,

      24      especially for families and singles.

      25             We are so thankful for that grant, but, that


       1      grant does not come with capital funding.

       2             So we have a grant to provide case management

       3      and subsidized housing units for permanent housing,

       4      and no money, without another grant, to build the

       5      actual housing.

       6             It is two steps forward, and one step

       7      standing in place.

       8             We have to do better, we must do better, and

       9      we are imploring to help us do better.

      10             We must make it less cumbersome to meet the

      11      needs of our neighbors and our communities.

      12             Housing must be safe and affordable.

      13             "Safe" means without the hazards of lead, and

      14      working utilities, windows, doors, and staircases.

      15             We allow people to rent apartments without

      16      those things.

      17             While the county and cities do their best to

      18      enforce the laws, there are still people living in

      19      absolutely horrendous conditions.

      20             Furthermore, the city of Newburgh tenants are

      21      fined for dirty apartments.

      22             And when that law, which was pushed by the

      23      landlords, was originally designed, there was also a

      24      15 -- or, 10- or 15-day jail sentence that came with

      25      that, and a $250 fine.


       1             And who determines what's dirty?

       2             Because, half the time, my house looks like

       3      "who did it and ran."

       4             I wouldn't want somebody coming in and

       5      judging how clean my house was.

       6             In the city of Middletown, landlords are now

       7      required to do a criminal background check before

       8      they rent to somebody.

       9             That scares our tenants, and the people that

      10      we work with, that they're not going to be able to

      11      find housing.

      12             All of these legislative fixes can and have

      13      chilling effects on the most vulnerable and fragile.

      14             Rent protection and good-cause eviction, that

      15      must be part of any package.

      16             We don't want people evicted just because

      17      they're complaining about the conditions they're

      18      living in, and it happens on a regular basis.

      19             We must acknowledge that tenants are

      20      non-powered positions in many cases.

      21             We have seen numerous cases of tenants

      22      being -- making fair, legitimate complaints about

      23      living conditions and being retaliated against

      24      against (sic) landlord, either by raising rents,

      25      locking them out, refusing to sign a lease, or just


       1      evicting them.

       2             This harassment by landlords who are not

       3      doing the right thing must be stopped.

       4             Rent control, rent regulations, beyond

       5      New York City is paramount to protect both tenants

       6      and landlords.

       7             We recognize landlords also have challenges,

       8      that, at times, tenants can be destructive and

       9      wallet-draining.

      10             We especially see our small-business

      11      landlords where the cost to prepare and maintenance

      12      can be fiscally problematic.

      13             But working together, agreeing that safe,

      14      clean living conditions benefit everyone -- tenants,

      15      landlords, lawmakers -- we can make real progress

      16      ensuring that tenants are protected, landlords are

      17      able to run successful businesses, and communities

      18      are healthier and safer.

      19             Housing is key.

      20             Safe, affordable housing is the key.

      21             If we make a true commitment to one another

      22      and to our neighbors, and be our neighbors' keepers,

      23      then we can provide healthier communities for all of

      24      us.

      25             And isn't that what we all want?


       1             Isn't that what we are all required to do?

       2             And, isn't that should we -- what we should

       3      want to do?

       4             Thank you so much for having the hearing.

       5             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

       6             Any questions for this witness?

       7             Okay, thank you very much.

       8             Next up we're going to have Albert Annunziata

       9      of the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester.

      10             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Thank you very much,

      11      Mr. Chairman, and the Committee, for holding this

      12      hearing.

      13             Again, my name is Albert Annunziata,

      14      executive director of the Westchester Building and

      15      Realty Institute.

      16             We are a membership organization of over

      17      500 members, running the gamut in the building

      18      industry.

      19             We represent -- regarding the rental

      20      industry, we represent 120 building owners in

      21      Westchester County, primarily small- to middle-size

      22      building owners.  Probably 90 percent of them don't

      23      have buildings above 40 or 50 units.  We're not

      24      talking New York City-class.

      25             And not surprisingly, they are concentrated


       1      in the major cities, Yonkers, of course,

       2      Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains, and the

       3      town of Greenburgh, which I understand you'll be

       4      having another hearing next week.

       5             The town of Greenburgh also has several major

       6      apartment buildings as well, mostly clustered in the

       7      urban centers.

       8             I do have handouts, which I will -- I think

       9      I have enough for everybody on the committee, but,

      10      you know, I've been listening very carefully to the

      11      very heartfelt and sincere comments of the tenants

      12      up here in Orange County, in the Newburgh area, and

      13      it can kind of ties in -- just as an observer and a

      14      listener, it ties in directly to the very dramatic

      15      testimony that was here at an earlier committee

      16      meeting, I guess it was joint Housing and

      17      Investigations, where you had the experts from

      18      FASNY, the firemen's association, and they were

      19      talking about the importance of enforcement of

      20      building codes.

      21             There is a municipality in Westchester

      22      County --

      23             I don't want to mention the name because

      24      they're currently undergoing a big to-do over their

      25      housing situation, but, some of you might know which


       1      one it is.

       2             -- but, for the past two or three years they

       3      had hearings like this about housing conditions.

       4             Many of the housing conditions are like the

       5      ones that we heard here from the other speakers,

       6      where it was the conditions of the housing;

       7      dangerous, substandard fire, fire detectors, alarm

       8      detectors, and CO detectors, that didn't work, the

       9      very things you heard from the FASNY experts.

      10             And they happened to have -- this

      11      municipality happened to have a volunteer

      12      landlord-tenant advisory board which operated fully

      13      and completely within the limits of the village.

      14             And most of the cases that they had to deal

      15      with were not rent level -- you know, the levels of

      16      the rent.

      17             The average rent in Westchester County is

      18      still below the HUD, you know, designated

      19      fair-market rent for Westchester County.

      20             So it wasn't so much the rent level.  It was

      21      the very dangerous and substandard work -- living

      22      conditions that would be -- speak of a failure of

      23      that municipality, through their building inspector

      24      and fire inspector, to make sure that these

      25      conditions did not persist, or even exist, for that


       1      matter.

       2             So you have that situation -- where, of all

       3      the things that was wrong with the rental housing in

       4      this particular village, the rent levels were, like,

       5      ninth or tenth on the list, because there are areas,

       6      even in Westchester County, that simply don't

       7      command the high rent levels that you might find in

       8      Scarsdale or Chappaqua, or even New York City.

       9             So -- you know, so I was kind of listening to

      10      the interrelated, you know, system that has been

      11      discussed, and how there are a lot of stakeholders

      12      in this process.

      13             You know, all of us, we -- we talk to our

      14      legislators, our Assembly reps, our Senate reps, and

      15      some of us even make the trek to Albany and do the

      16      same thing up in Albany.

      17             And I couldn't help but notice the New York

      18      State seal, and my knowledge of American history and

      19      state history, such as it is, is that you have

      20      Columbia on the left, representing the new world,

      21      and the energy and the power of the new world, and

      22      you have Lady Justice on the right, with the sword

      23      and the scales of justice.

      24             And, I've often thought about that in

      25      relation to the whole rent-laws issue.


       1             And then, of course, you're up in Albany, and

       2      you're running around like a chicken with your head

       3      cut off.  And then you see this, you know, the state

       4      of justice in New York State, and here's

       5      Lady Liberty, justice, with the scales.

       6             And just imagine, the existing system of rent

       7      regulation -- now, I can only speak for

       8      Westchester County, which is -- which, along with

       9      Rockland and Nassau county, are under ETPA, the

      10      suburban form of the rent-stabilization law in

      11      New York City.

      12             So, in fact, Westchester probably is the

      13      largest of the three.  They have the lion's share of

      14      the units under ETPA.  Nassau a distant second.  And

      15      Rockland even a far more distant, like the planet

      16      Pluto from the sun, you know, the least amount of

      17      ETPA housing.

      18             But if you looked at the system, at the

      19      regulatory framework, in which ETPA, you know,

      20      operates, and you look at the scale of justice, and

      21      you have, you know, the two, if I may, having --

      22      being a frustrated teacher -- having the two scales,

      23      the two plates of the scale of justice, on either

      24      side, this is what exists now.

      25             And, you know, in the grand scheme of things,


       1      quite rightly so, but this is what exists now:

       2             The tenants are on this side, and the owners

       3      are on this side.

       4             So if I may use, with the generosity of the

       5      armory and their supply of cups:

       6             We have senior citizen rent exemption.

       7      Senior citizens can apply.  It is a very active and

       8      popular program in New York State.

       9             You have senior citizens rent exemption, so

      10      that any rent increases that might come along,

      11      whether from a legitimate MCI (major capital

      12      improvement), or individual apartment improvement,

      13      or even the smaller increases that invariably come

      14      from the local county rent guidelines board, senior

      15      citizens are exempt from those increases.

      16             Then you have DREAM, the disabled

      17      rent-increase exemptions, and quite understandably

      18      so.

      19             There's no income qualification for rent

      20      protection under ETPA.

      21             And I heard the last witness talking about

      22      landlords who, you know, are quite wealthy, and

      23      they've got a place in Florida or the Hamptons,

      24      or -- and they drive fancy cars.

      25             Well, I can tell you that, you know, if any


       1      of you asked DHCR for -- well, actually, one of my

       2      senators left earlier.

       3             If Senator Mayer asks DHCR a pointed

       4      question, "How many units in Westchester County are

       5      under ETPA?" DHCR would not be able to give her an

       6      exact figure, okay, because they're dependent on the

       7      information they get from the municipalities who

       8      have ETPA, and, also, those who do respond -- those

       9      landlords who do respond every year, to providing

      10      the gobs of information, financial or otherwise,

      11      with the operation and maintenance cost surveys, the

      12      apartment registrations.

      13             So there's a tremendous amount of information

      14      coming from owners in Westchester, but DHCR doesn't

      15      still know how -- exactly how many units.

      16             We've estimated -- based on our membership,

      17      accounting for about 15,000 of the units in

      18      Westchester, we've estimated that there's probably

      19      between twenty and twenty-five thousand units be

      20      remaining in Westchester County under ETPA.

      21             So going back to -- there's no income -- real

      22      income test for being eligible for all the benefits

      23      of rent stabilization, rent regulation.

      24             Tenants up to 200,000 are protected.

      25             Now, only if DHCR initiates an investigation,


       1      anything above 200,000 for a period of, I think it's

       2      two consecutive years, and, again, at DHCR's

       3      initiative, then they can proceed to say, hey,

       4      you've got to free up that unit for someone far

       5      more worthy -- many of the people here in this

       6      audience -- far more worthy to deserve the

       7      protections of rent stabilization.

       8             We've estimated that a minimum of, probably,

       9      20, 25 percent, maybe four to five of that 25,000,

      10      four to five thousand units in Westchester County

      11      are being occupied by very, very wealthy tenants.

      12             Are there wealthy landlords?  Absolutely.

      13             But, for every unit that a wealthy tenant

      14      occupies in Westchester County, or anywhere in

      15      the ETPA system, that is one unit denied; denied

      16      an eligible, struggling middle-class,

      17      lower-middle-class, poor family, in need of rent

      18      protection.

      19             So keep that in mind, there are a lot of

      20      inequities in the system already.

      21             And, again, inequities, I'm kind of pointing

      22      out the scales of justice here, with the two plates

      23      on either side.

      24             Continuing on the tenant side, we're subject

      25      to -- the owners are subject to, in any of the


       1      counties, including New York City, rent increases

       2      from the rent guidelines board, invariably, because

       3      it is an imminently political process, that the

       4      increases are -- the increases are very low, many

       5      times zero, increases, because it's political.

       6             And, by the way, tenants can serve on the

       7      county rent guidelines board and vote on their own

       8      increases --

       9             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Mr. Annunziata, I'm going

      10      to ask you to wrap up, and I think you will have

      11      questions at the end.

      12             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Oh, okay, but a lot of

      13      people had time.

      14             I just was -- wanted to present, I'm not

      15      finished.  I probably have another five minutes.

      16             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  We're -- we're -- as

      17      I said at the beginning, we're offering each witness

      18      10 minutes for initial testimony, and we have been

      19      holding people to that --

      20             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  I should have brought

      21      maybe somebody else to continue to talk then,

      22      I guess.

      23             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Well, we -- we -- we

      24      consider each --

      25             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  All right.


       1             Very quickly --

       2             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  -- one person, one

       3      testimony, is our -- is a principle here that we've

       4      been adhering to.

       5             So we'd appreciate if you would wrap up, and

       6      you will have additional questions --

       7             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Oh, okay.

       8             I just couldn't help noticing the amount of

       9      time that was given to the other speakers.

      10             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Which was 10 minutes.

      11             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Very quickly:

      12             Pro-tenant members on the rent guidelines

      13      board, there's a tenant-protection unit that does

      14      the work, you know, over from the DHCR.

      15             We have succession rights, where families can

      16      be in the same apartment for years and generations.

      17             Permanent rental assistance, Section 8, now

      18      has become a permanent part of the lease.

      19             And so forth.

      20             So you've got all of this.

      21             And the only tools remaining in the owner's

      22      toolbox are, basically, three or four things:

      23             Major capital improvements, when needed;

      24             Individual apartment improvements;

      25             Vacancy allowance;


       1             And, of course, the flexibility of

       2      preferential rent when the market does not command

       3      the legal regulated rent.

       4             So, I present this to you for your

       5      consideration.

       6             There's a lot of inequity in the system.

       7             I would ask you to keep both sides in mind,

       8      because this is the side that actually keeps the old

       9      housing stock.

      10             The average age in Westchester County is

      11      approaching 100 years because a lot of these

      12      buildings were built in the 1920s and '30s.

      13             So, I do have handouts for the Committee.

      14             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay, we will take any

      15      written material and incorporate it into the record.

      16             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  And this goes into a

      17      little bit more detail of the importance of these

      18      last four tools in the remaining toolbox of

      19      inaudible.

      20                (Witness gets up from table and approaches

      21        dias with materials in hand.)

      22             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay.

      23             Thank you very much.

      24             Do the senators have questions or comments?

      25             All right, I'm going to start at my right,


       1      and work our way across.

       2             Senator Salazar.

       3             SENATOR SALAZAR:  Thank you for your

       4      testimony, and for the cup demonstration.

       5             I wanted to ask, you mentioned "legitimate

       6      MCIs."

       7             And I realize that you were -- you were

       8      contrasting that with just increase -- you know,

       9      increases that aren't actually through the major

      10      capital improvements program.

      11             But, I was reminded by your use of that

      12      language, you know, you -- you seemed to -- I guess

      13      my question is:  Do you think that most of the

      14      increases granted through the major capital

      15      improvements program are legitimate rent increases?

      16             And do you think that there is a problem with

      17      fraud in the program, for example?

      18             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Actually, it was tough

      19      enough for owners to get an MCI, with all of the

      20      documentation and receipts and everything that they

      21      had to do.

      22             Now with the tenant-protection unit, and

      23      I think it's been around now for three years, and

      24      I think that was specifically addressed by the

      25      Governor at the creation of the tenant-protection


       1      unit, they've actually gone back and -- to MCIs that

       2      were approved, and gone back and checked and

       3      rechecked.

       4             So, you know, it's a pretty hard gauntlet for

       5      the owner to go through, with all the documentation,

       6      so that the MCIs are legitimate, you know.

       7             The MCIs, they have to be, to be granted the

       8      okay from the division of housing.

       9             And -- but MCIs, you know, and some of that

      10      is the age of the building, and some of that is

      11      regulatory.

      12             In Westchester County, and I think in

      13      New York City too, the Number 6 oil is being faced

      14      out, Number 4 oil soon.  And, then, either they have

      15      to convert to Number 2 or gas.

      16             So you are talking about massive old heating

      17      plants, heating systems in these buildings, that

      18      have to be redone, either converted to gas, but we

      19      have a Con Ed moratorium that we have to deal with

      20      in Westchester County, and I hear on the grapevine,

      21      soon to be on Long Island.

      22             So you've got a regulatory component to MCIs,

      23      you have to do them.  But, also, you have the age of

      24      the building and the condition of the building,

      25      whatever.


       1             So, the MCIs, you know, they're not at every

       2      building at every time, but on an as-needed basis,

       3      or for compliance with regulatory directives, and,

       4      it runs a gauntlet through DHCR and through the

       5      tenant-protection unit.

       6             SENATOR SALAZAR:  Sure.

       7             So -- and I'm pretty familiar with MCI

       8      program.

       9             The reason I asked, is because, our

      10      understanding, based on a lot of testimony, not only

      11      from tenants, from legal experts, from even the

      12      agencies, they -- it seems that there actually is a

      13      lack of oversight in the MCI program, and that,

      14      actually, a lot of the increases through the program

      15      are not really verified, and there's a lack of

      16      accountability.

      17             I also -- I just want to clarify, you're from

      18      the Building and Realty Institute of Westchester?

      19             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Right, we're a trade

      20      association, much like the chamber of commerce.

      21             My 10-second elevator speech is, when

      22      somebody asks me what the Building and Realty

      23      Institute is, I say, Do you know what a chamber of

      24      commerce is?

      25             They go, Yeah, yeah.


       1             We're the chamber of commerce for the

       2      building industry.

       3             So we represent about 120 really small- to

       4      mid-size building owners in Westchester, among other

       5      real estate classes and membership.

       6             SENATOR SALAZAR:  Right, right.

       7             Because my understanding is, that there are

       8      about 1500 members in the institute, but not

       9      necessarily property owners.

      10             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Overall, yes.

      11             Actually, the apartment owners are one of our

      12      smaller groups.

      13             But we also have, you know, a number of, not

      14      surprisingly in any organization like this, a lot of

      15      contractors, suppliers, service firms.

      16             We have -- we represent several hundred

      17      co-ops and condos in Westchester who also face the

      18      MCI, the need for capital improvements, whatever.

      19      So they're familiar with that, obviously, under a

      20      different regulatory umbrella.

      21             But -- so it's about 1500, all tolled, yes,

      22      different classes.  But the apartment owners, just

      23      about 120, representing about 15,000 of an estimated

      24      25,000 units in Westchester County.

      25             SENATOR SALAZAR:  Got it.


       1             And do you happen to know if E&M Management

       2      is a member?

       3             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  (Indiscernible)?

       4             SENATOR SALAZAR:  E&M.

       5             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Oh, E&M.

       6             I wouldn't.

       7             We have a huge database, and I'm old-school.

       8             I took over in 2001, where, my predecessor

       9      who ran the association from 1946 to -- 1946 to

      10      2001, I was looking at DOS computers, and, you know,

      11      fax machines.

      12             I still like fax machines.

      13             So, I'm not a tech person.

      14             I actually avoid our database, and leave it

      15      to others in the office.

      16             But, E&M, I can find that out for you.

      17             SENATOR SALAZAR:  Great, thank you;

      18      I appreciate that.

      19             My -- the only question I have, because you

      20      mentioned the tenant-protection unit that has

      21      existed for a few years, do you know how many

      22      full-time staff the TPU currently has?

      23             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  No.

      24             I just know that it was created several years

      25      ago by the Governor, I guess, carving it out of the


       1      regular DHCR.

       2             And when we met with -- and I'm not telling

       3      tales out of turn.  Senator Mayer will tell you this

       4      is exactly what happened.

       5             When a group of us met with her at her

       6      office, and she was very generous with her time for

       7      about an hour with our group, in port -- in Rye, she

       8      asked the question, you know:  I've asked DHCR, have

       9      they done any investigation, TPU, have they done any

      10      TPU investigations in Westchester?

      11             And they told her, no.

      12             And then two of my owner members, both women,

      13      we have more than several women- and minority-owned

      14      building owners, they said, Well, you have two

      15      people in this room who were checked,

      16      doubled-checked, triple-checked, by TPU, over our

      17      MCI applications.  And they had all of the

      18      documentation, they gave it all back.

      19             What they gave to DHCR, they provided again

      20      to TPU, and even in more detail, whatever, and

      21      everything was okay.

      22             I wouldn't necessarily know how many are in

      23      the TPU.  That would have to be something that maybe

      24      one of you good people could possibly find out from

      25      DHCR.


       1             SENATOR SALAZAR:  Yeah, so -- so, right now,

       2      we did, in the state budget, increase the allocation

       3      so that they could specifically hire 94 full-time

       4      staff.

       5             But, currently, there are 25 staff members in

       6      the -- in the tenant-protection unit.

       7             And it's just remarkable to me, when I hear

       8      your testimony, that TPU is this resource to so many

       9      tenants across the state, and to two of your members

      10      in Westchester County, because it's actually -- what

      11      we have found, or what I have certainly -- what I've

      12      certainly found, and what tenants have attested to,

      13      as well as legal-aid attorneys, TPU is not the

      14      resources that they've had, even that they'll have

      15      now, is not adequate to cover the entire ETPA

      16      region.

      17             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Well, I can well

      18      understand your point.

      19             It's a big region under both rent

      20      stabilization and ETPA, as it is, you know, without

      21      even thinking about, you know, the need statewide,

      22      or even, you know, commenting on that.

      23             But I only mentioned it here because it's one

      24      of the things on the tenant side, however,

      25      understaffed, that, certainly, not here, you know,


       1      in terms of the benefit for the owner.

       2             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you,

       3      Senator Salazar.

       4             Senator Myrie.

       5             SENATOR MYRIE:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

       6             And thank you for your testimony.

       7             I want to focus on this notion of

       8      means-testing.

       9             You mentioned that there -- there are a whole

      10      body of folks that are missing out on the

      11      opportunity for affordable housing because they are

      12      not means-tested, and this is not a novel concept.

      13             I think we've heard this in this discussion,

      14      that we should be looking at the tenants, and we

      15      should be means-testing the tenants.

      16             I want to talk for a moment about

      17      means-testing property owners, because, if we are --

      18             And I do have a question at the end of this.

      19             -- if we look at the rent-regulated system,

      20      certainly in the city of New York, according to the

      21      rent guidelines board, only 5 percent of property

      22      owners were distressed; meaning, that they made less

      23      money than the building was giving them.

      24             Right?

      25             So we have heard the argument from property


       1      owners, that the reason that we need to keep some of

       2      these regulations in place, MCIs, IAIs, and these

       3      other means of passing on the costs to the tenant,

       4      is because that's the only way that the property

       5      owner will be able to make money, that is the only

       6      way that they'll be able to keep the building

       7      moving.

       8             But, only 5 percent of them are not making

       9      money.

      10             So here we are, instituting a system, in

      11      which 95 percent of the property owners are doing

      12      okay, if not doing very well, but we are calibrating

      13      and passing on the costs to the tenants.

      14             And, so, should we be determining our

      15      policies based on how well the landlords are doing?

      16             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  That's a good question.

      17             With the years that I've been an observer,

      18      I'm not an owner myself, but, with the years that

      19      I've been an observer at the county rent guidelines

      20      board, the operation and maintenance cost surveys

      21      and the apartment registrations and all the

      22      information that the owner has to file every year

      23      with the division of housing, one can determine, as

      24      a group profit margin, how well they're doing as a

      25      group, how not well they're doing, or whatever.


       1             So, you know, there's already a lot of data

       2      on the owners' side for policymakers to look at

       3      and -- and -- and -- and -- and, you know, look at

       4      how well-off the owners are.

       5             In a way, owners are like an electric

       6      utility, or any kind of utility, where they're

       7      providing a public service.

       8             They have -- they -- they own -- they

       9      privately own the building --

      10             SENATOR MYRIE:  I'd agree, and I will say

      11      that is precisely why they should be regulated.

      12             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  And the thing is -- and

      13      they are regulated.

      14             But the thing is, just like Con Ed, maybe

      15      there should be, just like with rent control, many

      16      of you might not know this, because it was a

      17      surprise to me to find out, that there is still

      18      maybe a few thousand of the old World War II

      19      rent-control units in -- throughout the whole

      20      system, New York City and the suburbs.

      21             And DHCR -- DHCR determines the percentage

      22      increase of rent internally, based on CPI, or

      23      whatever.

      24             So that's like the public service commission

      25      saying, Okay, Con Ed, you get X percent increase


       1      this year, and that's passed along to the users.

       2             So, whereas, the rent-control units get

       3      9 percent, in some years, from DHCR, the rent

       4      guidelines board, with ETPA, gives them zero or

       5      1 percent increases.

       6             So it's kind of like there are disparities

       7      all over the place.

       8             But, certainly, there are inequities on both

       9      sides, that we are looking to all of you, especially

      10      in such a position of power and responsibility, and,

      11      also, you know, opportunity to look at the entire

      12      rent-law system and, you know, come up with

      13      reasonable and rational regulations across the board

      14      for both tenants and landlords.

      15             SENATOR MYRIE:  So, I'm sorry, just so --

      16      just for clarity sake, and I appreciate your

      17      response.

      18             I think we are well aware of, and we're

      19      trying to fix, in fact, that disparity between

      20      rent-control rent.

      21             But you do not agree that landlords should be

      22      means-tested?

      23             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  I think it's certainly

      24      within the power of all of you legislators, in both

      25      Houses, that, you know, there's a tremendous amount


       1      of information already, as to the health, or the

       2      lack thereof, or the middling condition, of, you

       3      know, building owners in New York City and the

       4      suburbs.

       5             And -- so, you know, certainly, you know,

       6      it's something you should look at, if you feel you

       7      should.

       8             But, you know, with all the talk of

       9      affordable housing, and I come from a family of

      10      renters in Mount -- I grew up in Mount Vernon,

      11      New York, and I grew up long before ETPA, I'm sorry

      12      to say.  I grew up in the '50s and '60s, and my

      13      parents were immigrants from Italy, that, you know,

      14      we struggled, and whatever.  Didn't have the

      15      protections that exist today.

      16             But, suffice it to say, that -- that when you

      17      talk about affordable housing, whether it's

      18      Westchester County or Orange County, or whatever, to

      19      have 20 percent of the units out there in the hands

      20      of people who happen to be in the right place at the

      21      right time, for generations, because of the

      22      succession laws, that it doesn't matter how much

      23      they earn or grow in salary every year.  That,

      24      they're in place until somebody decides, well,

      25      there's a suspicion that Tenant X in Apartment 2-B


       1      is earning over $200,000, so maybe we should take a

       2      look at that particular unit.

       3             For every unit like that, it does cry out for

       4      a certain amount of social justice, that -- that, in

       5      the American way, that person earning a high income

       6      should really move on --

       7             (Audience member sneezes.)

       8             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Salute.

       9             -- and give -- see, that's the Italian in me.

      10             -- and give a more worthy tenant, single mom,

      11      low- to middle-class person, a chance for a

      12      rent-stabilized apartment, which they are -- which

      13      really they need, and really is due them.

      14             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you, Senator Myrie.

      15             Just, briefly, you know, we are very late.

      16             I would just -- I would suggest, just some of

      17      those cups -- and we appreciate the cup

      18      demonstration.

      19             Just a couple of -- I would -- couple of them

      20      I might move over, just, for example, by pointing

      21      out that, statutorily, these rent guidelines boards

      22      do have to have two landlord representatives and two

      23      tenant representatives --

      24             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  That's correct.

      25             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  -- and then five


       1      additional.

       2             So I am not sure, you know, how that

       3      generated a cup for the tenant side without a cup

       4      for the landlord side.

       5             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Well, in

       6      Westchester County -- I can only speak for

       7      Westchester.

       8             In Westchester County, and in the ETPA

       9      statute, a tenant can serve on the rent guidelines

      10      board and vote on their own increases, decreases,

      11      freezes.

      12             A landlord cannot serve.

      13             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  A landlord can serve as

      14      long as they are not owning -- a landlord can serve

      15      as a (indiscernible) member, as long as they are not

      16      owned -- an owner of real estate that is actually

      17      regulated by the statute.

      18             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Well -- right, true.

      19             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  But there are certainly

      20      many landlords and many who are sympathetic to the

      21      interest of landlords.

      22             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Right.

      23             They're not under the regulatory -- they're

      24      not under the regulatory aegis (indiscernible) --

      25             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Again, I would say, you


       1      know, the idea that it's not balanced, you know, is

       2      something, and, certainly, many would question.

       3             And I also would note that high-income

       4      deregulation provisions are -- that is a process

       5      that landlords can initiate.

       6             What many people are concerned about is that,

       7      under the current process, it doesn't just remove

       8      the undeserving household that makes over $200,000,

       9      although, some -- you know, in some of our

      10      neighborhoods, $200,000 might be like a -- you know,

      11      a school principal and a firefighter, a two-income

      12      household.

      13             But, also, you know, it removes the unit

      14      entirely from rent regulation.

      15             So, you know, there's no -- there's no

      16      provision right now to remove that high-income

      17      household and keep the system in regulation.

      18             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  And that's part of -- and

      19      that's part of the inequities that you all are

      20      looking at.

      21             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  But we do -- again, we do

      22      appreciate your testimony, and your cups, and --

      23             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

      24             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  -- thank you very much.

      25             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  My wife is a fourth-grade


       1      teacher in Yonkers, and either she'd be very proud

       2      of me at this moment, or she'd be absolutely

       3      horrified.

       4             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  She can -- this will be

       5      webcast, so perhaps she can view the tape --

       6             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Oh, my.

       7             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  -- and let you know.

       8             ALBERT ANNUNZIATA:  Oh, my goodness.

       9             All right.

      10             Thank you so much.

      11             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

      12             Okay, next up, we're going have -- again,

      13      we're very happy to have some of our elected

      14      officials who -- local elected officials who may --

      15      some of these things we're discussing today might

      16      empower them, going forward.

      17             But, I'm going to ask Ramona Monteverde to

      18      come up, along with Anthony Grice, and also --

      19      sorry, forgive me, and Tamie Hollins as well, who

      20      I believe is not an elected official, but is joining

      21      this panel.

      22             ANTHONY GRICE:  So, first, I want to thank

      23      everyone for having this hearing, I greatly

      24      appreciate it.

      25             It is a critical time here for us, especially


       1      in the city of Newburgh.

       2             I did not prepare any statement, so I do

       3      apologize for that.

       4             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  (Inaudible.)

       5             Thank you.

       6             ANTHONY GRICE:  So my name is

       7      Councilman Anthony Grice for the city of Newburgh.

       8             RAMONA MONTEVERDE:  And I am

       9      Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde, Ward 2.

      10             TAMIE HOLLINS:  And I am Tamie Hollins, a

      11      resident here in the city of Newburgh.

      12             ANTHONY GRICE:  And so as I was saying, I am

      13      very fortunate to live in a house, and I do consider

      14      it fortunate.

      15             When I talk to the people in the city of

      16      Newburgh, one of the things that strikes me is the

      17      amount that they're paying in rent.

      18             I pay $900 for my mortgage, which includes my

      19      taxes.

      20             Many people are paying way more than that,

      21      sometimes almost twice as much as that, for

      22      conditions that I wouldn't put my dog in.  They are

      23      horrible conditions.

      24             And then the situation in the city of

      25      Newburgh is, when they do go complaining to our


       1      codes department or some other entity, what is

       2      happening is, they are then quickly sent out of

       3      their house, out of their apartment, and then it's a

       4      scramble for them to find places to live.

       5             For sure, all -- not all of our landlords are

       6      slumlords, but a majority of them do have serious

       7      code violations on their buildings.

       8             A lot of our buildings in the city of

       9      Newburgh were built before -- built in the early

      10      1900s.  I think about 60 percent of our buildings

      11      were built before the 1900s.

      12             And so they definitely do have some issues

      13      with them.  They have lead, they have asbestos, they

      14      might have a leaky roof, or some other situation

      15      that comes along with old houses.

      16             But when the landlords buy those properties,

      17      they do not buy them sight unseen.  They are very,

      18      very aware of what is going to be in that building

      19      and what it incurs, and they are definitely making a

      20      profit on that.

      21             So we do need all nine of those bills signed,

      22      even though some of them, what seems like it only

      23      affects New York City right now, there is going to

      24      be, especially in the city of Newburgh, as we're

      25      revitalizing, there might be the opportunity that we


       1      might have those same kind of housing units here in

       2      the city of Newburgh.

       3             So it's important that we pass all nine of

       4      them.

       5             The other thing that I wanted to mention is,

       6      our codes department right now in the city of

       7      Newburgh, I believe we only have four staff members.

       8             We -- that's not enough to sustain us.  We

       9      really need to have about fifteen to really do a

      10      great job with codes enforcement.

      11             One of the issues, though, is, when we do go

      12      in for codes enforcement, and we tell a -- the

      13      property owner that his building is condemned, or

      14      whatever the case, and now we have just made a

      15      family homeless.  And so then it puts us in a

      16      scramble of trying to find some place for them to

      17      go.

      18             And, you know, we, as a city, we don't have

      19      those resources to say, you know, you're out of your

      20      place, and now we're going to transport your whole

      21      family to some other place.

      22             I do work for the Newburgh Enlarged City

      23      School District, and I work very closely with the

      24      our homeless liaison, Mr. Morgan.

      25             And so when I know about a situation that's


       1      coming up, I'll call him to his cellphone, sometimes

       2      a late Saturday night, and say, you know, Heads-up,

       3      we have this family that's coming.  And can we --

       4      under the McKinney-Vento law, can we ensure that at

       5      least the children have a smooth transition, as far

       6      as getting to school, and getting the meals, and

       7      getting them meals on the weekends.

       8             But it still really puts us in a tough

       9      situation.

      10             And I heard how the other gentleman, how his

      11      time was cut short, so I'm going to yield my time,

      12      and let (motions)...

      13             RAMONA MONTEVERDE:  Thank you for letting me

      14      speak.

      15             I actually came because I wanted to come, and

      16      I wanted to thank you for actually holding these

      17      hearings.

      18             It's extremely important in the city of

      19      Newburgh that we start to work on improving the

      20      housing stock.

      21             I have been working in the city of Newburgh

      22      since 2001.

      23             I actually have 26 years in affordable and

      24      supportive housing.

      25             I started out in Yonkers, and Yonkers is way


       1      ahead, and the work that we were doing with

       2      affordable housing in Westchester.

       3             And then I came to Orange County and actually

       4      was shocked to see that tenants are not protected

       5      here.  There's no rent-control regulations in the

       6      city of Newburgh.

       7             And today, as a councilwoman, working in

       8      supportive housing, I'm seeing that the housing

       9      condition is deplorable.

      10             We have 128 apartments where I work,

      11      supportive housing, low-income, and that is not

      12      enough.

      13             128 apartments, and we have a waiting list

      14      of, probably, about 500 people that are needing to

      15      get in at 30 percent.

      16             The housing stock in the city of Newburgh,

      17      for a very long time, because we don't have the

      18      staff in the codes department to inspect these

      19      apartments and to stay on top of these landlords,

      20      is, really, as my colleague here, Councilman Grice,

      21      mentioned, it's, just, again, it's deplorable, and

      22      people should not be living in these apartments and

      23      paying rent.

      24             And, unfortunately, what we're seeing in the

      25      city of Newburgh is the rents are going up, they're


       1      not affordable.  People are being pushed out.

       2             At the same time, we are trying to hold the

       3      landlords accountable, but, in doing that, we're

       4      condemning buildings and we're closing them down,

       5      and people are being homeless and displaced.

       6             So, therefore, we need to build more

       7      affordable housing that is suitable.

       8             So thank you again for letting me speak.

       9             I will pass this on to my colleague,

      10      Tamie Hollins.

      11             Thanks.

      12             TAMIE HOLLINS:  Hi.

      13             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

      14             TAMIE HOLLINS:  I want to bring light to

      15      another piece of the housing stock here in the city

      16      of Newburgh, and it's called "the multi-family

      17      housing," and the multi-family housing is governed

      18      by HUD regulations.

      19             Senator Skoufis, and constituents, since the

      20      new management personnel took over Varick Homes,

      21      which is a multi-family housing property funded by

      22      HUD, the residents and myself have been experiencing

      23      emotional stress, displacement leading to

      24      homelessness, and harassment, because the policies

      25      and procedures of the HUD Handbook, 4350.3, are not


       1      being followed.

       2             Working people, many of them at Varick Homes,

       3      cannot go to work and focus on our jobs -- or, focus

       4      on their jobs because of the emotional stress of

       5      being harassed.

       6             We have seniors, who are our most precious

       7      but fragile assets, who have worked all their lives,

       8      and they didn't make a lot of money, but they did

       9      work, they are being worn out daily, mentally,

      10      emotionally, and physically, and are in fear for

      11      their livelihood, wondering, where they are going to

      12      go because they're going to be homeless.

      13             What's even more astonishing is, our seniors,

      14      they don't qualify to be evicted, not when it comes

      15      to the regulations of the HUD Handbook, 4350.3.

      16             Senators, it's been bad, but now it's getting

      17      worse.

      18             It's like, no one is monitoring, no one is

      19      watching.

      20             Newburgh is rebuilding, redeveloping, from

      21      the fragility of the deterioration of poverty of the

      22      years past.

      23             Local and state officials and this

      24      administration has stated numerous times, that we

      25      are not doing business as usual anymore in New York


       1      State and in the city of Newburgh, but, there are

       2      some businesses who are still set on doing business

       3      as usual.

       4             Senators, we cannot allow, we cannot allow

       5      this, if we plan to redevelop the city of Newburgh,

       6      or New York State, because, if so, it won't happen.

       7             Someone has to say something.

       8             Someone has to not be fearful enough to be

       9      quiet.

      10             Someone has to not be scared to come up and

      11      speak, pertaining to our housing, and that's where

      12      I am, and that's why I'm here.

      13             Somebody has to speak up.

      14             Everybody can't be fearful.  Everybody can't

      15      stay scared.

      16             We have to worry every day down in

      17      Varick Homes housing about coming home and finding a

      18      note on our door, a letter in our mailbox, a phone

      19      call coming in, or a message -- or, a phone message,

      20      that we need to come to the office, for something,

      21      or to do something, that does not line up with the

      22      HUD regulations, again, of the HUD Handbook, 4350.3.

      23             So this evening, Senators, I'm asking,

      24      Varick Homes is asking, please, let's not give any

      25      more passes or power to the property owners who are


       1      defrauding HUD and the tenants, who are mismanaging

       2      the properties, and who are grossly negligent in the

       3      city of Newburgh anymore.

       4             Let's stand up together against the

       5      entrapment tactics that plague our city residents

       6      daily from the housing stock owners.

       7             Thank you.

       8             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

       9             Any questions or comments from the panel?

      10             Senators Skoufis.

      11             SENATOR SKOUFIS:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

      12             And it's a pleasure to see all three of you.

      13             And, in my first five months, it's been a

      14      delight working with both of you, Council Members,

      15      and your colleagues.

      16             And I think that, you know, we've made some

      17      progress on a lot of issues.

      18             You know, I know specific to what we are

      19      talking about now, we're working together on funding

      20      the housing-needs assessments, and, there's a lot

      21      more work to do.

      22             And, certainly, we have an opportunity on

      23      this side of the table to bring some tenant

      24      protections to Newburgh that you all need.

      25             And that, more importantly, your constituents


       1      need.  Right?

       2             And, Tamie, I know, you know, that we've

       3      gotten to know each other a little bit over the past

       4      year or two.

       5             There's a reason why you're the

       6      sergeant-at-arms in the Democratic Committee; right?

       7             And this is the first I'm hearing about what

       8      you just read.

       9             And, off-line, let's have a conversation

      10      right after you're all done with your testimony, and

      11      I'm willing to help whoever I possibly can.

      12             You and your neighbors, you shouldn't be

      13      harassed.  You shouldn't be going through what

      14      you're going through, as you described.

      15             So, I will be happy to join you and your

      16      neighbors in fighting back wherever we can.

      17             But thank you for your testimony.

      18             And, we've got a lot more work to do.

      19             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

      20             I'll join you in thanking.

      21             Thank you for your testimony.

      22             Next up, is Bob Braunclich still here, from

      23      Kingston Tenants?

      24             Thank you for your patience.

      25             And next up, I'm glad to see, I think some of


       1      the CVH folks have returned, so we will have the

       2      rest of the CVH crew up next.

       3             I appreciate it.

       4             BOB BRAUNCLICH:  Hello, everyone.

       5             I really appreciate you taking some time to

       6      listen to me today.

       7             I'm new to the Hudson Valley.  I just moved

       8      back to New York from Texas seven months ago.

       9             I was renting in Texas.

      10             I've lived in Rhode Island prior, I've rented

      11      there; Massachusetts, New Mexico, Callie for a

      12      little while.

      13             But in New York where I'm from, I've never

      14      rented, and this is my first experience here.

      15             And I just wanted to share my story with

      16      everyone here, so far.  It's been interesting.

      17             When I first looked for my apartment, and

      18      found the one that I have, the building I was shown

      19      had multiple issues with it.

      20             The front door was missing a literal

      21      two inches off the front of it.  It was -- it was

      22      interesting that an apartment could be shown with a

      23      door that didn't have a complete bottom to it.

      24             The windows didn't stay up.  There were no

      25      screens in there.


       1             There was black mold in the bathroom.

       2             The breaker panel seemed to have a hum to it,

       3      which I later discovered, after plugging things into

       4      outlets in the apartment after I had signed the

       5      lease.

       6             The showing process was a very rushed

       7      process.  It was done by a leasing agent who was

       8      contracted by the company that manages the property.

       9             And, it was just a very rushed process.

      10             And I was promised during this process that

      11      all of these issues would be fixed.

      12             My door would be, you know, completely

      13      replaced.  There would be molding replaced.  I would

      14      have things -- the apartment would be put back in

      15      working order.

      16             So, okay, I believed it, I signed the lease.

      17             I've signed many leases before.  There really

      18      never were issues in the apartments I looked at in

      19      the past.  They were all taken care of prior to.

      20      And any ones that did exist were taken care of, as

      21      promised.

      22             But with this particular situation, after

      23      signing the lease, nothing was done.

      24             The apartment was left as is.

      25             I was continually told for the following


       1      four months, Yeah, we'll fix your issues.  Don't

       2      worry, we'll fix your issues.  Just make sure you

       3      submit the issue through our online portal, or get

       4      in touch with whoever the maintenance person was.

       5             And no matter how many requests I made, it

       6      just continued to stay in the state that it was.

       7             It was surprising to me that, in New York

       8      State, that a landlord could rent an apartment that

       9      was, one, in that condition, and, two, just

      10      continued to seem to not really fix it after renting

      11      it.

      12             So, anyways, fast-forward, I've been there

      13      for seven months.  I finally got my door replaced,

      14      that's pretty nice.  The drafts went away a little

      15      bit.

      16             I guess I missed my front-door mail slot,

      17      though, two inches off the bottom of the door, but,

      18      that's not a big deal.

      19             And, I've noticed some things since I've been

      20      living there.

      21             It's a 575-square-foot apartment, it's small.

      22             It has a fireplace in it, which is in a state

      23      of disrepair.  It's not capped.  And it also is

      24      missing the flue part.  So it's just open.  It's --

      25      you -- I hear things fall through there


       1      occasionally.  And if I'm, I guess, unlucky enough,

       2      I can see something fall through there.

       3             So, that's just an interesting thing with it

       4      too.

       5             The doors; the windows; the bathroom with the

       6      black mold; the pipes freezing in the winter and I'm

       7      not able to take showers or use my toilet; I mean,

       8      that's -- those are just common conveniences I think

       9      would be allowed to everyone who rents an apartment.

      10             Well, looking into it a little more, talking

      11      to my neighbors, my apartment, my 575-square-foot

      12      apartment, costs me about 1200 a month to rent.

      13             My neighbors who have apartments which are

      14      two times, three times, the size of what I rent,

      15      they pay the same amount of money I do.

      16             That sort of struck me as odd.  Why do I rent

      17      an apartment that costs me the same amount of money

      18      with much less space?

      19             And when I brought it up to the landlord,

      20      they just told me that, all the units are unique and

      21      individual, and they have their own charm to them.

      22             And that's interesting.  I didn't know black

      23      mold was a charming feature to an apartment.

      24             Also, along with this landlord, I've heard

      25      many stories from many people who lived there,


       1      similar to mine, but, also, that the deposits don't

       2      get returned.

       3             And I guess from talking to more people, this

       4      is a larger issue in New York State, where, there is

       5      a law for it, from what I understand, but landlords

       6      don't very commonly follow it.

       7             And I'm not aware of the route that needs to

       8      be taken to actually get your deposit back legally,

       9      if that becomes the case.

      10             But, yeah, I've shared -- I did print out an

      11      article, and a copy of my lease agreement, which

      12      I shared with Senator Salazar.

      13             I apologize for not having more copies here.

      14             But, anyways, I wanted to share my story, and

      15      I really appreciate you guys listening to this.

      16             And, you know, I hope something comes of it.

      17             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  And thank you again for

      18      your testimony, and for your patience.

      19             Any questions or comments?

      20             Okay.

      21             We really do appreciate it.

      22             BOB BRAUNCLICH:  Thank you.

      23             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Next up we have, this is

      24      handwritten here, but, Patrick Cousins, and

      25      Omari Shakur.


       1             And I have another, Cynthia Maria from CVH,

       2      but I don't think she's here?

       3             Okay.

       4             If the two of you could come up.

       5             Okay, if you want to...

       6             OMARI SHAKUR:  Omari Shakur, new voters --

       7      New Voices Heard.

       8             PATRICK COUSINS:  My name is Pat Cousins.

       9      I'm a resident and a landlord in Newburgh.

      10             OMARI SHAKUR:  So, basically, why we're here

      11      today, we're here for the tenants protection,

      12      tenants' rights.

      13             We recently attended a protest up in Albany,

      14      where we want to pass the nine bills.  We wanted to

      15      get that passed.

      16             So why we're here today, just to bring some

      17      information about the city of Newburgh.

      18             And one of the reasons why Newburgh has been

      19      like it has been, because code compliance, before

      20      Chief Horton has taken over in, like, the last year,

      21      the landlords, they ran code compliance.

      22             So that's why we're having a whole bunch of

      23      problems in the city of Newburgh, because, code

      24      compliance, they weren't enforcing the codes,

      25      because the landlords, basically, they ran code


       1      compliance.

       2             So we have -- in fact, I know you heard all

       3      of the problems that are happening in Kingston, and

       4      stuff.

       5             The same stuff is happening in Newburgh, the

       6      mold in the buildings, stuff like that.

       7             But we just recently ran -- I'd like to show

       8      you some pictures.

       9             We were passing out flyers the other day for

      10      people to come out here, and there was some people

      11      who approached us.

      12             A landlord, somebody had just bought a

      13      building at 54 Johnson Street.  They bought this

      14      building, like, two days, and whoever was in there,

      15      they had put them out.  They put somebody else in

      16      there.  They took all the stuff out and threw it on

      17      the ground.

      18             They told the new tenant not to come in the

      19      front door.

      20             She has a baby.  She has to go through a

      21      alley and climb over a refrigerator to get in her

      22      house, because this building hasn't been inspected,

      23      or whatever, and he don't want nobody to know that

      24      there's a -- that he's renting it out already.

      25             So these are some of the problems that we're


       1      having, and we need tenant protection in the city of

       2      Newburgh.

       3             We need tenant protection because, like

       4      I said, you have houses that are full of mold.

       5             And people, as you see, there are not many

       6      tenants out here today because they're scared of

       7      retaliation.

       8             Soon as you complain, then the landlord comes

       9      to your house the next day and says, you're being

      10      evicted.

      11             And I know, I was -- somebody bought my house

      12      approximately a year ago, and they bought it on a

      13      Monday, and Tuesday I was being evicted.

      14             So there are no -- most of -- 75 percent of

      15      our tenants in the city of Newburgh are living in --

      16      are renting without leases.  They need leases,

      17      because that was -- that would be your first form of

      18      protection right there, when you have a lease.

      19             So 75 to 80 percent of the renters in the

      20      city of Newburgh are renting without leases.

      21      They're renting month to month.

      22             So that's one of the reasons why there's no

      23      protection, because there's no leases in the city of

      24      Newburgh.

      25             So, we have a bunch of problems right now.


       1             But this a landlord, and he's a landlord, and

       2      he's an owner-occupied landlord.

       3             And that's what we want to see in the city,

       4      owner-occupied landlords, or, we want to see some of

       5      these tenants.

       6             I lived in Newburgh, seven generations, seven

       7      generations we have lived in Newburgh.

       8             When I (indiscernible) -- when I was raised

       9      in Newburgh, 60 years ago, most of the people in my

      10      community were homeowners.

      11             But after urban renewal came through, now

      12      mostly the descendants of them homeowners are

      13      renters now, and we don't have no type of

      14      protection.

      15             So, this is why we're in this fight for, now,

      16      for tenants' protection.  And we want to make sure

      17      the good-cause is passed.

      18             We definitely want some type of protection

      19      put in place because, outside of New York City and

      20      Westchester County and Long Island, there's no rent

      21      stabilization, or no type of rent protection for

      22      renters.

      23             So, that's why we're here today.

      24             And this is, like I say, he's the

      25      owner-occupied landlord, and he has a story.


       1             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

       2             PATRICK COUSINS:  Hi, thank you for staying

       3      all day.

       4             I'm going read something I wrote, if that's

       5      okay.

       6             The good-cause eviction bill introduced by

       7      Julia Salazar and Pamela Hunter is the right bill

       8      for Newburgh.

       9             We in Newburgh have a community of property

      10      owners that have purchased distressed properties in

      11      a multitude of ways, either through the land bank or

      12      from the City itself, or various short-sale

      13      opportunities offered throughout the financial

      14      community.

      15             We are dedicated property owners, dedicated

      16      to the city of Newburgh, that has made these

      17      transactions possible.

      18             And, we are dedicated to the people of

      19      Newburgh who are our neighbors, and dedicated to the

      20      tenants we help.

      21             New boilers, new roofs, upgrades of plumbing

      22      and electrical are all par for the course.

      23             Taking these hulking piles of bricks and

      24      lumber, resuscitating them, cleaning them up,

      25      clearing them of their code violations, getting them


       1      back on the tax rolls, is a considerable task.

       2             This is an investment we need to protect.

       3             Good-cause eviction bill, and enforcing

       4      building-code laws that are already on the books,

       5      help us protect that investment.

       6             There is a business model in Newburgh that is

       7      detrimental to all concerns here in Newburgh.

       8             We hear of situations where tenants go

       9      without heat in the coldest months of the year.

      10             We see families living in decay and squalid

      11      conditions in buildings routinely flagged for code

      12      violations.

      13             We hear of tenants getting evicted for

      14      pointing out these various unsafe conditions they

      15      live in.

      16             And while we scrape away the years of neglect

      17      and provide clean, safe housing for all of Newburgh

      18      residents, there is a group of investors that

      19      ignores the building codes, and pay the fines, small

      20      fines, as a condition of doing business.

      21             We need an even playing field, and all

      22      landlords must be held to the same standards.

      23             Newburgh must hold us all responsible and

      24      enforcement is paramount.

      25             This good-cause bill is designed to take on


       1      the corporate landlords that perpetuate the filth

       2      that we must endure.

       3             In fact, good-cause is actually good for the

       4      smaller investors by slowing the speculation.  It

       5      will help first-time home buyers compete in the

       6      housing market.

       7             Thank you.

       8             OMARI SHAKUR:  And not only are our tenants

       9      endangered, like you said, the firefighters, when

      10      they were talking earlier, the phenomenon now in

      11      Newburgh is there are a lot of single- or two-family

      12      homes.

      13             These landlords have taken these

      14      single-family homes and these two family-homes and

      15      have made them into, like, 20 sing -- they're

      16      20 rooms.

      17             So now, when these firemen go in there, like

      18      they said, you don't know what you going -- you

      19      going -- you think you're going into a single-family

      20      house, and now you got 20 rooms in there, walls,

      21      that were not in there before, and stuff like that.

      22             So, I can take you to 10 buildings right now,

      23      where there were single-family homes, and now you

      24      got, like, 30 families living in them, in rooms,

      25      because these landlords are taking these houses and


       1      turning them into apartments and turning them into

       2      rooming houses.

       3             Basically, turning them into rooming houses.

       4             So houses being done as code compliance is

       5      doing their job.

       6             How -- so we need to make sure that these

       7      protections are put in place, and our code -- our

       8      code and compliance is doing their job, because,

       9      like I said, I know 10 buildings, I know

      10      10 buildings right offhand.

      11             In fact, what that landlord was talking about

      12      today, where the car ran into his building, or

      13      whatever, when they went in there, they found out

      14      there was, like, 20 rooms in there, or something

      15      like that, in a building that was supposed to be --

      16      I guess it was supposed to be, like, apartments,

      17      like, two or three rooms.

      18             But it has turned into 20 rooms.

      19             So this is what's going on in the city of

      20      Newburgh, and this is why we need tenant protection

      21      outside of New York City.

      22             Thank you.

      23             I am not going to keep going, because I got

      24      1,000 more stories to tell you about landlords and

      25      tenants.


       1             But, we need -- landlords need tenants, and

       2      tenants need landlords, so we'd like to build that

       3      relationship, and make sure we fix that relationship

       4      first.

       5             Thank you.

       6             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

       7             If you could hold up?

       8             Senator Myrie.

       9             SENATOR MYRIE:  I just wanted to say thank

      10      you to both of you for your testimony.

      11             Thank you for staying all day.

      12             You know, I think a lot of times people

      13      forget, when we talk about tenant protections, and

      14      we talk about speculation, the people who have made

      15      these communities attractive in the first place are

      16      the ones that are bearing the brunt of the crisis

      17      right now.

      18             And for you, as someone who is a seventh

      19      generation Newburgh resident, you know, you should

      20      be the one reaping the benefits from staying in this

      21      community, not the one being pushed out.

      22             And I want to thank you, as a property owner,

      23      for your courage to talk about the need for tenant

      24      protections, because we -- you know, you don't have

      25      the benefit of a large, well-funded organization


       1      that gets to send fancy representatives to come to

       2      these.

       3             But you come as someone who is invested in

       4      this community.

       5             You know, we heard from a Newburgh landlord

       6      earlier today who called his tenants "animals," and

       7      it was a disgrace.

       8             And to have you represent the best of

       9      Newburgh, and to come forward and to talk about the

      10      need for tenant protections, is incredibly

      11      important.

      12             So I just wanted to really thank you for your

      13      testimony today.

      14             OMARI SHAKUR:  And also one more known fact.

      15             60 to 70 to 80 percent of the renters, at

      16      least 75 percent of their income is paying rent.

      17             So we have to change those numbers because,

      18      when 75 percent of your income is paying rent, you

      19      have no money left over for nothing else; for your

      20      children, or for anything else.

      21             So, thank you for listening.

      22             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

      23             So next up, we are going to have the folks

      24      from Sullivan Agencies Leading Together,

      25      Thomas Bosquet and Martin Colavito.


       1             Thank you, both.

       2             MARTIN COLAVITO:  This is kind of new to me,

       3      so you'll have to forgive me.

       4             My name Martin Colavito, and I am a part of

       5      something called Sullivan Agencies Leading Together,

       6      called "SALT."

       7             We're a community coalition, probably about a

       8      couple hundred strong in Sullivan County.  It's

       9      non-funded.

      10             So, our mission is to compassionately engage

      11      people, and to remind people that hope is always in

      12      the room.  And, that, through a human contact and a

      13      human touch, you know, people cannot only get

      14      service, but turn hopelessness into hopefulness.

      15             All right?

      16             One of the things -- I can tell you

      17      stories -- I don't need to tell you stories.

      18             What I can talk about is, systematically,

      19      what's going on in Sullivan County, and how it

      20      affects the person who's trying to feed their

      21      families.

      22             All right?

      23             And one of the things that are happening in

      24      Sullivan County is that, there is -- there is --

      25      we've all heard of this lack of affordable housing,


       1      and, everybody, it's been a steady thread throughout

       2      the time I've been here.

       3             And every community is unique.

       4             And what makes Sullivan County very unique,

       5      is that we're above and beyond a rural county.

       6      We're a very impoverished county, and we're 61 out

       7      of 62 in regard to New York health indicators.

       8             I met my wife in Appalachia in 1979, and was

       9      lucky enough to love somebody very dearly since

      10      then.

      11             And when I was working in Appalachia, and,

      12      Lynn, my wife, was working in Appalachia, at the

      13      time, it was probably the most impoverished area in

      14      the country.

      15             And when Lynn and myself walk around

      16      Sullivan County now, it puts us in mind of

      17      Appalachia in 1979.

      18             Part of that is because, again,

      19      systematically, we have an affordable-housing

      20      crisis, I would say, in Sullivan County.

      21             And because of that, the trauma that's

      22      inflicted upon people because of lack of housing is

      23      systemic in nature.

      24             So what landlords can do, possibly -- and

      25      there's a lot of good landlords, I want to point


       1      out.

       2             I've also been a community organizer for

       3      40 years.

       4             All right?

       5             And -- so there's a lot of really good

       6      landlords.

       7             But what happens is, is that landlords

       8      realize, or people realize, who are not operating

       9      correctly, that they kind of have an upper hand in

      10      regard to code compliance.

      11             One of our strong partners in

      12      Sullivan County, it is the County itself and the

      13      code-compliance officers.

      14             But sometimes I go home at night and say to

      15      myself, if they do their jobs, who feeds and houses

      16      the people, who -- who -- you know, there are no

      17      other resources.  There is no plan B.

      18             Right?

      19             There is no -- there is no chance for that

      20      person to find even the slightest bit of housing

      21      anywhere else in Sullivan County.

      22             So there's that -- there's that dynamic

      23      happening in the county that has all of us on our

      24      heels.  Has the County on its heels who's trying to

      25      do the right thing.


       1             So people in the community, you know, because

       2      they believe it's an investment that's their

       3      lifelong 401(k), as opposed to, you know, the things

       4      you're getting every week in -- you know, as part of

       5      their paycheck.

       6             You know, I want to invest in my county, I

       7      have three grandchildren in my county.

       8             So as a result of that, now people in our

       9      county are afraid.

      10             They're afraid, you know, Omari had said,

      11      brought up a really good point, in regard to leases,

      12      you know, leases are nonexistent to a lot of people

      13      in Sullivan County.

      14             If I ask you for a lease in Sullivan County,

      15      you're not going to rent to me.

      16             All right?

      17             So what's happening, especially in the town

      18      of Fallsburg, is that -- and this is epidemic in

      19      proportion now, because SALT being a volunteer

      20      agency, one of the things we do, is we have a

      21      telephone number, that if you call that number

      22      today, six phones ring at once, and that's our

      23      steering committee.

      24             And whoever answers that phone first is

      25      charged with navigating that person to service, and


       1      not just saying, hey, here, go there, but saying,

       2      hey, how can I bring you there?

       3             Okay?

       4             So one of the things that we're starting to

       5      hear in the phone calls we were getting regularly,

       6      are people who are saying, hey, look I'm paying $800

       7      a month for rent.  My rent is due next week.  My

       8      landlord just told me I have to pay $1400 next

       9      month, or I'm gone.

      10             It's happening all over the place.

      11             So I try to navigate them to one of our

      12      strong partners, Legal Services of the Hudson

      13      Valley.

      14             They're afraid to go.

      15             They're afraid to go, they don't know what to

      16      do.

      17             So their only recourse then, especially

      18      people of color, and people of color who have been

      19      stigmatized because of their status in our country,

      20      who helped build our country, and now are

      21      stigmatized because they had the misfortune of

      22      building this country, you know, culturally, all

      23      right, these folks now end up living with other

      24      people.  And then the housing then kind of tumbles

      25      and tumbles, it's like a domino effect.


       1             So in Sullivan County, as a result of that,

       2      there is no hope.

       3             Okay?

       4             We often joke around and say that,

       5      Sullivan County, we wish, as a county, we had the

       6      resources that Newburgh had as a city, and we'll do

       7      fine, you can leave us alone.

       8             Okay, but the reality of it is, we don't.

       9             And the reality of it is, is our major,

      10      I guess, entity in Sullivan County is hopelessness.

      11             It's trying to get a single woman, who has

      12      three children, who is making $24,000 a year because

      13      she doesn't want to be on social services, who is

      14      living in a place where she's eligible for HEAP, but

      15      because of the nozzle on the gas tank, it's not

      16      code-compliant that the oil companies follow, they

      17      will not deliver it.

      18             So she has to pay for her oil, even though

      19      she's eligible for HEAP.

      20             You know, these are things that are

      21      happening.

      22             And it's -- the thing I fear more than

      23      anything is somebody who -- who -- who loves my

      24      family, and loves my friends, and does want to

      25      invest in the people that invest in me, is, that


       1      this is a problem, you know, housing is a problem,

       2      and it's fueled by issues, and the issues are the

       3      things we need to kind of start talking about as

       4      well.

       5             And the issues are the things that are going

       6      to ultimately solve the problems, because we'll

       7      develop goals and meet objectives.

       8             But right now, Sullivan County, the average

       9      person who's making $30,000 a year, $34,000 a year,

      10      in Sullivan County is hopeless.

      11             The number-one employer in Sullivan County is

      12      health care.

      13             All right?

      14             Over the past four months I've doing focus

      15      groups and interviewing, (indiscernible) interviews

      16      with people.  And I'm interviewing more and more

      17      people who are providing health care to people,

      18      substance-use disorders, you name it.

      19             And what's happening is, is they're working

      20      jobs overnight so they can come and serve during the

      21      day, all right, because they can't afford to pay

      22      their rent, they can't afford to feed their

      23      families, and the cycle continues to spin.

      24             And I don't want to waste your time, guys,

      25      because you've been here all day, but part of the


       1      things -- I got to be honest with you, part of the

       2      thing that breeds hopelessness, and I know there's a

       3      reason, and I don't sit in judgment when I say this:

       4      When people in communities come to hearings like

       5      this, and I know that --

       6             I missed the reason why it started late, so

       7      please forgive me.  All right?

       8             -- but when people on your side of the aisle

       9      walk out, it's telling.

      10             It's telling.

      11             And I would beg you, I would beg you, to

      12      consider that also, because we need you.

      13             And we need you to be sitting there, and we

      14      need you to take a tour of our community.

      15             And we need you to come to a SALT meeting,

      16      not because I want -- we're not political.

      17             What, are you gonna fire me?

      18             We're volunteer.

      19             All right?

      20             But I need you to be socially conscious, and

      21      open your hearts and minds to what we were going

      22      through.

      23             And I don't want to -- okay?

      24             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

      25             Do you --


       1             THOMAS BOSKET:  My stories are anecdotal.

       2             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  So let me just -- I mean,

       3      there's something called "preaching to the choir."

       4             So telling folks they have to -- I used to go

       5      to a -- I used to go to a church on Sunday, right,

       6      Sunday, where the priest would say, you know, and

       7      You should go to church more.

       8             We were all sitting there, saying, we were in

       9      church, we appreciate it.

      10             But, also, I would just note that this is the

      11      fourth hearing on this topic, and the fifth hearing

      12      of the Housing Committee during the month of May.

      13      And this, I believe, is our 29th hour of taking

      14      testimony on this topic.

      15             So -- and we have had -- you know, we had

      16      14 senators in Albany just yesterday, hearing

      17      testimony from around the state.

      18             So --

      19             MARTIN COLAVITO:  I got to tell you, all

      20      right, one guy to another, all right, this is my

      21      35th year in Sullivan County.

      22             All right?

      23             This is my grandchildren here.

      24             My daughter raised here, and if she didn't

      25      have a mother and father who loved her, would be


       1      dead today.

       2             All right?

       3             So I got to remind you of that, that

       4      people -- that people talk about gentrification.

       5             And I remember sitting in this room,

       6      (indiscernible) is the city councilperson saying to

       7      me, What's wrong with gentrification?

       8             I said, Nothing's is wrong with

       9      gentrification as long as there's consideration

      10      behind it.

      11             All right?

      12             So I -- trust me when I tell you, I know you

      13      guys are doing yeomen's work with this.

      14             I'm just telling you about the look.

      15             That's all.

      16             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  I appreciate that.

      17             And I guess, I just -- I just thought I would

      18      just note for the record how many hours many of our

      19      senators, you know, including Senator Skoufis who

      20      was here before 9 a.m., and, you know, left 9 hours

      21      later.

      22             But, anyway, I will -- do folks on the panel

      23      have a question?

      24             SENATOR MYRIE:  Thank you.

      25             Good work.


       1             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you, we really

       2      appreciate it.

       3             SENATOR METZGER:  I want to thank you guys

       4      for coming, and being here for Sullivan County, and

       5      talking.

       6             I appreciate it.

       7             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  We appreciate it very

       8      much.

       9             Next up, I think -- so I'm going to call

      10      Angel Estrada, or perhaps, Angel (different

      11      pronunciation) Estrada, and Liliana Cobo, both of

      12      Make the Road, and I believe there may be

      13      translators joining them.

      14             Is there anybody else here who is expecting

      15      to testify today?

      16             Okay.

      17             So I believe -- I believe this will be our

      18      last panel, and we appreciate your patience.

      19             Good afternoon.

      20             LILIANA COBO:  (Speaking Spanish.)

      21             (Translated to English by a translator.)

      22             Good morning.

      23             Today I'm here supporting the good-cause

      24      legislation because I'm one of the 5 million people

      25      without protections in the state.


       1             (Speaking Spanish.)

       2             (Translated to English by a translator.)

       3             I live in 8 Eastview Avenue, White Plains,

       4      New York.  I live in a three-apartment house, and

       5      the owner does not live there.

       6             So if this regulation were to pass, I would

       7      finally have protections.

       8             I have lived in this place for 10 years with

       9      my 17-year-old son and my partner.

      10             My son has grown up in this house and in this

      11      neighborhood.

      12             (Speaking Spanish.)

      13             (Translated to English by a translator.)

      14             The house needs work.

      15             We have a rat problem, and when I have warned

      16      the owner -- warned the owner many times before.

      17             He does not -- he doesn't do anything.

      18             My stove has not worked properly in a long

      19      time.  And without this essential appliance, I can't

      20      cook for my family, and I have to spend more money

      21      buying food outside.

      22             The sink in the bathroom is constantly moldy,

      23      and has not been repaired in years, although the

      24      owner knows about the issue.

      25             I have had to invest a lot of my own money in


       1      repairs, and still be paying rent, which seems

       2      unfair.

       3             I'm still waiting for someone to come and fix

       4      the situation, but nobody ever comes.

       5             (Speaking Spanish.)

       6             (Translated to English by a translator.)

       7             But since I do not have protections, I do not

       8      insist, because there is a possibility that, if the

       9      owner wants to, they can simply kick me out of the

      10      apartment.

      11             And the truth is, that it is very difficult

      12      to find places to live in with the high prices that

      13      exist in the White Plains and the Westchester area.

      14             If I keep asking for repairs, I may be

      15      homeless.

      16             (Speaking Spanish.)

      17             (Translated to English by a translator.)

      18             This is the risk that many people like me

      19      have, and will continue to have, if the good-cause

      20      legislation is not passed.

      21             We also see rent increases that are too high,

      22      and many families have to vacate places that have

      23      been their homes for years because they cannot

      24      afford these prices.

      25             (Speaking Spanish.)


       1             (Translated to English by a translator.)

       2             We need you to support our renters because we

       3      all deserve protections and a decent place to live.

       4             Thank you.

       5             ANGEL ESTRADA:  (Speaking Spanish.)

       6             (Translated to English by a translator.)

       7             Today I'm here to share my testimony in

       8      support of the good-cause legislation.

       9             I hope that sharing my experience can help

      10      millions of people who, like me, are without

      11      protections in the state.

      12             (Speaking Spanish.)

      13             (Translated to English by a translator.)

      14             My name is Angel Estrada, and I am living in

      15      107 Midland Avenue in Portchester, in a 10-family

      16      house, where we have no protections.

      17             I have lived in this house for the last three

      18      years with my wife and 3-year-old daughter who has

      19      grown up in this house.

      20             (Speaking Spanish.)

      21             (Translated to English by a translator.)

      22             The conditions of the apartment are not

      23      ideal, and even unsanitary, as there is an

      24      infestation of rats and cockroaches that has gone

      25      out of control.


       1             The building is also missing lights in some

       2      parts of the outskirts of the house, which is

       3      dangerous at night.  It is difficult to see and one

       4      can fall.

       5             And although I have complained to the owner,

       6      he has ignored the matter.

       7             I'm afraid that one day my daughter will get

       8      sick or bitten by this plague.

       9             Much of her food shows holes and rat bites in

      10      the mornings, and it has to be thrown away.  This is

      11      a big waste of food and money.

      12             I think it is unfair that this has not been

      13      fixed and taken into account by the owner of the

      14      apartment, but my rent is still charged and

      15      continues to rise.

      16             (Speaking Spanish.)

      17             (Translated to English by a translator.)

      18             During these three years that I have lived in

      19      the building, my rent has gone up $200 once, and the

      20      owner has given me another increase just a few days

      21      ago of $300.

      22             That's already a $500 increase in just

      23      three years.

      24             With what I earn from my salary, it is

      25      impossible for me to pay this amount.


       1             And when I look for help after this last

       2      increase from local government offices, the only

       3      thing they could tell me is that I cannot do

       4      anything because I did not have protections.

       5             (Speaking Spanish.)

       6             (Translated to English by a translator.)

       7             Since I got the notice of the rent increase,

       8      I have been stressed, without sleep, and I do not

       9      know what to do.

      10             I have searched for other places, but the

      11      prices of the rents are unattainable.

      12             And if I rent another place without

      13      protections, this situation could be repeated again.

      14             All renters need protections.

      15             We all have families and we need a place to

      16      live.

      17             Many of us are a rent increase away from

      18      being homeless.

      19             (Speaking Spanish.)

      20             (Translated to English by a translator.)

      21             If I had protections, I would not be afraid

      22      to be here today, giving this testimony, or to

      23      report the conditions of the building.

      24             (Speaking Spanish.)

      25             (Translated to English by a translator.)


       1             We ask for protections for all; we are

       2      5 million without protections.

       3             The proposal of good-cause would give us the

       4      necessary protections.

       5             Please support, and thank you.

       6             SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.

       7             Questions?  Comments?

       8             Okay.

       9             Again, we greatly appreciate your patience,

      10      and all of your testimony, and, you know, the

      11      courage and the commitment that it takes to being

      12      here today.

      13             So, thank you very, very much.

      14             Okay.

      15             Thank you.

      16             And that -- and with that, that concludes our

      17      testimony today.

      18             And unless my colleagues have additional

      19      remarks, closing remarks, for today's hearing?

      20             Seeing and hearing none, that adjourns this

      21      hearing of the Standing Committee on Housing,

      22      Construction, and Community Development, this public

      23      hearing on rent regulation and tenant protection

      24      legislation.

      25             And, again, for those watching at home, we


       1      have one more hearing.

       2             It is Tuesday, the 28th, from 10 a.m. to

       3      2 p.m. in Greenburgh, New York.

       4             It probably -- it is likely to be our last

       5      hearing on this topic, at least in this legislative

       6      season.

       7             So we urge folks who might be listening, and

       8      may be interested in testifying, to contact us and

       9      join us on that day.

      10             And with that, we adjourn.

      11             Thank you so much.


      13                (Whereupon, the public hearing held before

      14        the New York State Senate Standing Committee on

      15        Housing, Construction, and Community Development

      16        concluded, and adjourned.)


      18                           ---oOo---