Rudy: Plan Won’t Spur Evictions By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer

Friday, Aprill 11, 1997

Mayor Giuliani yesterday said the city won’t evict current tenants of city public housing as part of an effort to place higher-earning residents in the buildings.

The mayor and Housing Authority officials also said they would not immediately try to relax the federal rule that bars charging tenants more than 30% of their monthly household income for rent.

The announcements came in response to protests over news that the city may apply to participate in a new federal program that would change the rents that may be charged for public housing.

“Once the rules are lifted, that’s it,” said Jenny Laurie, executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing.

Called Moving to Work, the program would authorize selected public housing agencies to charge some tenants more than 30% of their household income for rent, while charging less than that from others.

Officials in municipalities around the nation are vying for inclusion in the program, which will be instituted at 30 of the most successful public housing agencies.

The aim of the program is to give public housing agencies flexibility to both increase rental income in the face of cuts in federal housing subsidies while at the same time aiding tenants whose welfare subsidies are cut.

“Last year we got approximately $62 million less than we needed to run our developments, and we foresee that continuing to happen,” said Housing Authority Chairman Ruben Franco. “We have to do creative things in order to stay solvent.”

The city must apply for inclusion by May 19. But the application is not a done deal, Franco said. Housing Authority officials will hold hearings and meet with associations that represent the city’s 600,000 public housing tenants before applying, he said.

“We are not going to use it to raise people’s rent so that public housing is unaffordable for them,” said Franco. “We are not going use it to evict people. We are going to use it to strengthen our ability to house the people that we are mandated to house.”

But housing advocates were not convinced.

“In theory it sounds wonderful, and it would be great if it turns out that they did not displace anyone,” said Laurie. “But in reality there are not enough units to go around to cover all the people who need very-low-rent apartments.”

Original Story Date: 041197

They Rent & Rave To Ax Hikes By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 12, 1997

Facing an unprecedented loss of state rent protections, hundreds of tenants packed a municipal hearing yesterday and called on the City Council to preserve the regulations.

Carrying signs and shouting at landlord advocates, the tenants demanded that the Council meet an April 1 deadline for reauthorizing laws that restrict the size of rent hikes for more than 1 million city apartments.

Walter Gambin, 52, an upper West Side tenant, said renters are being pinched from all sides, including by politicians serving the interests of landlords. “They’ve got a lot,” Gambin said of the landlords. “We don’t. Why do they want to take more from us?”

The tenants jeered as Richard Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress, defended state Senate plans to let the rent laws expire in three months.

Anderson said government rent regulations have depressed the city housing market to the point where developers have shied from constructing rental buildings.

The hearing, where one tenant was tossed out of City Hall for rowdiness, marked the latest skirmish in an emotionally charged battle over rent laws.

At yesterday’s hearing, the tenants demanded that the Council certify a recent survey that found the rental vacancy rate in the five boroughs remains below 5%, the official measure of a housing emergency.

The Council has until April 1 to vote on the issue.

Council members are expected to approve the politically sensitive emergency designation by an overwhelming margin, and Mayor Giuliani–facing reelection this year–is expected to sign it.

The focus then will shift to Albany, where State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer), a long-time foe of government rent regulations, has threatened to end the rent-protection system.

Bruno’s threat has taken on heightened importance because the GOP-controlled state Senate can simply let the rent laws expire June 15, despite opposition from the Democratic-run Assembly.

Gearing up for the battle, tenants yesterday warned City Council members not to reverse their long-standing support for the rent laws. Some advocates showed up at the hearing with lists showing honor and dishonor rolls of Council members who in the past have voted to curb the protections.

“I don’t think City Council members running for reelection want to get caught on the side of landlords,” said Jenny Laurie of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, a tenant group.

Copyright 1997 Daily News, L.P.

City Hall Protesters Rally for Rent Control By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer

nullFebruary 27, 1997

Hundreds of placard-waving tenants rallied outside City Hall yesterday to denounce landlords and politicians and demand renewal of threatened state rent protection.

The tenants, worried that state lawmakers will allow the laws on more than a million city apartments to expire in June, applauded as housing advocates accused State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer), Gov. Pataki, Mayor Giuliani and other officials of favoring landlords.

“Landlords have claimed for years that rent control and rent stabilization have made it impossible for them to make what they call reasonable or adequate profit. This is sheer baloney,” Bob Grossman of SRO Tenants United told the crowd at City Hall Park.

The rally was the first major protest by Showdown ’97, a coalition of tenant organizations fighting Bruno’s threat to let the state rent laws expire on June 15. The laws regulate how much landlords can charge for lease renewals and vacated apartments.

Bruno has called for a two-year transition to a free-market rent system. Only elderly, disabled and low-income tenants would keep rent protections under Bruno’s plan.

But the Democratic-controlled Assembly and several Republican lawmakers from New York City districts are battling to extend the current laws.

The tenants called on other state lawmakers to support the fight. Carrying sheets and placards that read “Keep Rent Protection,” the crowd of about 750 joined in chants of “Tenants united will never be defeated.”

Bruno spokesman John McArdle scoffed at charges that the majority leader is beholden to landlord groups, who have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Senate Republicans. He said Bruno “has been calling for rent decontrols for the last 10 years” on the ground that the laws perpetuate an unfair system.

Jack Freund, a spokesman for the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents most of the 25,000 owners of the more than 1 million rent-stabilized housing units in the city, criticized the tenant activists.

“Rent regulations have been a disaster for New York City’s economy and its renters. It’s time to phase out the system in a responsible manner,” Freund said.

But Jenny Laurie, director of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, said that “landlords are full of crap” for battling to strip tenants of their rights under the law.

Warning: Lead Paint Disclosure required By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer

December 7, 1996

New Yorkers will now have to be told whether the home they are about to buy or rent contains lead paint, according to a federal rule that went into effect yesterday.

Advocates for children and low and moderate-income families hailed the new disclosure law.

“We are talking about million of units in the city that potentially would be affected by this,” said Kenny Schaeffer, vice chairman of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, a tenants rights union.

The new Environmental Protection Agency regulation requires that potential buyers and renters be given a pamphlet outlining the health dangers of lead-based paint and be informed whether the dwelling has such paint.

Sellers and real estate agents could face fines up to $10,000 and as much as a year in jail if the presence of known lead-based paint is not disclosed.

“The reason this is important,” Schaeffer said, “is that it’s been proven that if a baby eats even one chip of paint that has lead content, it’s enough to cause permanent and irreversible brain damage.

“We have worked with families who have had children hospitalized to have all their blood removed and cleansed of this poison.”

New York has a high incidence of lead contamination because its housing stock is very old. As much as 75% of New York State’s housing was built before 1978, when lead paint was banned, according to the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

“This will greatly contribute to our efforts to prevent and eliminate the incidence of childhood lead poisoning nationwide,” EPA Administrator Carol Browner said.