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September 26th, 2008


by John Coakley

The New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal’s housing code currently contains an unfortunate/intentional (you pick) loophole that allows landlords to demolish rent-stabilized buildings even if they are not unsafe to live in. This is a loophole that needs to be closed because it has been used repeatedly to kick people out of buildings in order to allow construction contracts and big rents to move in. Fortunately, the code is about to be revised but, unfortunately, real estate lobbyists have the ear of the DCHR and its Commissioner, David Fewer. So print out the letter below (or write your own) and send a copy to both:

Governor David Paterson
633 Third Avenue
NY, NY 10017


Mr. Gregory Fewer
Gertz Plaza
92-31 Union Hall St.
Jamaica, New York 11433.

Be sure to include your address, either as a letterhead or under your signature. The letters must be received by Tuesday, 9/30/8. The apartment you save could be your own. The letter follows:

Mr. Gregory Fewer
Gertz Plaza
92-31 Union Hall St.
Jamaica, New York 11433
CC Gov. David Paterson

Dear Mr. Fewer:

I object to the your proposed new housing code because it retains most of the rules the Republicans enacted to drive rent stabilized tenants out of their homes with phony demolitions and to provide inadequate subsidies to keep people in their neighborhoods. We elected Democrats to change things. You must rewrite your proposed code to protect the tenants who are under assault from developers who are destroying the economic and architectural diversity of New York’s neighborhoods. Unfair laws and codes have been changed in the past. Do it now.

You must slow down the developers’ attack on affordable housing by ending phony demolitions and by defining demolition to mean razing a building to the ground.

Other codes that makes it harder to demolish buildings and force tenants out must be imposed. One such would be limiting demolitions to unsafe buildings. If there isn’t any language in the city and state laws saying demolition must be limited to unsafe buildings, it means there is also no language saying it can’t be limited to unsafe buildings. So, you should act to limit it. It would be consistent with state and city law whose original intention in allowing demolition was understood to be allowing demolition in the case of unsafe buildings. Not to increase the profit of the landlord.

The proposed subsidy for tenants driven out of their homes because of real or phony demolitions must be based on market rate rents for a comparable apartment in the same neighborhood. Another possibility is relocating tenants to a comparable apartment in the same neighborhood at the same stabilized rent which would be subsidized.

The money given tenants driven out of their apartments by demolition or phony demolition must be for a period of ten years or more. It would keep the tenant from having to disrupt their life again after six years when your proposed code ends the housing subsidy. It would also slow down the developers by making the expense of the ten+ years housing subsidy a deterrent.

Senior citizens caught in a demolition must be given additional considerations beyond even a market based housing allowance for a limited time period. They can not go out and work two jobs to pay for the increased rent when the subsidy runs out. They should be given a life time housing subsidy. Since, by definition, seniors are reaching the end of their life that is not an unreasonable possibility. Another option is to guarantee them an apartment in the new building at the same rent stabilized rent.

I hope you will act to bring about the positive change for tenants, and not take the easy out of keeping the old unfair housing practices.


Filed Under: Community | New York | News | Politics | Take Action





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