By Brad Hoylman
Democratic Candidate for State Senate
One of the pleasures in running for the State Senate to succeed Tom Duane has been the richness and variety of the conversations I’ve had with hundreds of voters. Just the other day, I was at a senior center and struck up a conversation with a WWII veteran and his wife. He had flown bombers over the English Channel before making his way to New York and getting married. Over 65 years ago, he and his wife were among the first residents of Peter Cooper Village.
This couple is like so many other middle class New Yorkers who have made Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village their home. They’ve raised their kids here and sent them to local public schools. Many of them have been leaders in the community — whether on the PTA, Community Board 6, the 13th Precinct Community Council or the Tenants Association. In just over 65 years, they’ve built a strong, cohesive neighborhood that is both unique and admirable.
Indeed, the work of these pioneers made ST/PCV a model of affordable housing for New York and the entire country. But since the disastrous Tishman Speyer takeover in 2006, the status of the community and its 25,000+ tenants has been in severe jeopardy. The question facing candidates for public office like me is profound: How do we save Stuy Town and Peter Cooper for the middle class?
Last week, with the support of Council member Dan Garodnick, I released my ST/PCV agenda to help answer this question. In it, I laid out my vision for the future of ST/PCV, and what I will do as a State Senator to fight for that future.
Stuy Town/PCV must remain affordable, middle-class housing for every resident, whether through home ownership or permanent rent protections. We need to set aside adequate funds to properly maintain the property. And we must preserve the historical configuration of the property, including all of its open spaces.
The ST/PCV Tenants Association has been hard at work developing a solid plan with a reputable partner that respects these guiding principles, and as a State Senator I will lend my voice and influence to their cause. In the meantime, quality of life should not suffer even in the absence of a deal, so I will fight to ensure that CW Capital and Rose Associates fulfill their responsibilities to maintain the property, and that they stop block rentals to students.
We must fight to prevent exploitation by landlords all over the district.
Currently, “vacancy decontrol” provisions give perverse incentives for baseless evictions, and the “personal use” loophole allows landlords to clear out rent regulated apartments.
The Urstadt Law leaves New York City unable to put in place any tenant protections that are stronger than the state’s. As a result, our tenants are at the mercy of upstate Republicans. This must stop.
I will also fight to expand the tenant protections that are already in place. For example, Governor Cuomo has established a Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) to proactively enforce landlord obligations and impose strict penalties for failure to comply with HCR orders and New York’s rent laws. But the TPU is severely under funded, with a backlog of tenant complaints that is more than a year-long. I will fight to provide the TPU with the resources it needs to modernize the State’s housing database, making it easier to determine the rent history of apartments, detect fraud among landlords and shorten the waiting time to deal with tenant complaints.
We also need to fix SCRIE and DRIE. The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE) and the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption Program (DRIE) offer rent freezes to low- income seniors and differently-abled people, respectively. I will work tirelessly to expand these important housing programs.
The Democratic Primary is on Thursday, September 13h. I hope you’ll give me the chance to be your voice in Albany.