Letters to the Editor, Jan. 31

Pols to CW: Don’t raise rents mid-lease

The following is an open letter to Andrew MacArthur, vice-president, CWCapital Asset Management.

Dear Mr. MacArthur:

We write to you today in reference to the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer case settlement. It is our understanding that under the terms of the settlement, if approved, CWCapital may claim they have the right to impose rent increases on certain tenants in the middle of their lease term.

We are deeply skeptical of the legality of such a right, if exercised, and urge you not to try to take advantage of it.

Please know that we are aware of many representations – some oral, some documented – made by leasing agents who promised residents that they should not worry about mid-lease increases because the landlord would not choose to impose such an increase.

Legal fine-print should not be used to impose significant rent increases on unsuspecting tenants in the middle of their leases. Regardless of the terms of the written leases, representations were broadly being made to residents to induce them into signing their leases, and those commitments should be honored.

Raising rents mid lease-term would create enormous instability in the community that has had far too much instability already. Residents have an expectation that their lease is their lease and will not be changed until its term is up. Any aberration creates upheaval and uncertainty, and has the potential to create sudden vacancies, rapid turnover, and all of the negative implications on quality of life that such quick changes tend to have.

Indeed, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper have long been known in New York City as a place for people to develop roots over the long term, and we certainly hope you will not depart from that.

Accordingly, we ask that you commit now, in advance of the Roberts settlement being finalized, to not raising the rent of any unit mid-lease term. This will go a long way to calm residents’ nerves and to assure their elected representatives that CW Capital is considering the human impact of its decisions.

The tenants of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village have had to deal with a great deal of turmoil since the property was sold by MetLife to Tishman Speyer and the bondholders you represent. Now, as the Roberts case appears to be coming to a close, they deserve to have some peace of mind about what the future will hold.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Council Member
Daniel R. Garodnick
Senator Charles
E. Schumer
Congresswoman
Carolyn B. Maloney
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
New York Public
Advocate Bill de Blasio
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer
State Senator
Brad Hoylman
Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh

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Memo from CompassRock: Some Peter Cooper Village basements may not reopen until September

Super Storm Sandy occurred over two and a half months ago. Since that time, we have made great progress in restoring services as quickly and safely as possible and we appreciate the support we have received from our residents.

Sandy caused historic devastation. It sent nine feet of storm water  into many of our basements, particularly in Peter Cooper Village, destroying most of the electrical and building control systems that are housed in those basements. As a result, many residents in Peter Cooper Village are still impacted.

Repairing electrical systems and the damage in the basements is a complex and laborious process. It requires highly specialized equipment, parts and technical expertise that would not be readily available under normal circumstances and for which we are competing with thousands of buildings throughout the region that demand those same resources as a result of the storm. Restoration also requires meticulous coordination and planning as repairs need to happen in a carefully orchestrated sequence in order to minimize any additional disruptions.

We are confident that we have the best team of engineers, contractors and staff members in the City working each day to restore these systems as quickly and safely as possible. While we understand that some residents are frustrated, we ask for your continued patience and assure you that we are making progress each and every day.

Below you will find our best assessment of the current conditions on Property. As we receive more information, we will provide additional updates.
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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 24

Code word for age discrimination

New Yorkers over 55 quickly learn the open secret that “overqualified” means “too old.”  The Great Recession has impacted workers of all ages, but seniors and near-seniors have been hit especially hard. New Yorkers age 55 and older who lose their jobs are out of work for an average of one year, compared to 41 weeks for younger employees.

To highlight the value of older employees, last week the City Council passed a resolution I wrote encouraging New York City employers to hire older workers.

Older employees face a longer, more frustrating job search. To give one example: Pamela, now in her mid-fifties was a business manager for nearly three decades when the recession hit. She was laid off and still has not been able to find full-time work. On interviews, Pamela hears the same feedback: her skills are great, but she is “overqualified.” One interview was cut short after Pamela revealed the year she graduated from college.

William is in his mid-sixties and worked in the New York City fashion industry for more than 40 years. Booking jobs has gotten increasingly tough. Employers like his resume, but repeatedly say he is “overqualified.” After 20 interviews without any offers, William has concluded his age is a factor.
Older women and minorities in particular are struggling to find employment. A recent Community Service Society study found that women aged 55 to 64 who are laid off are out of work longer than any other group in New York City. In 2010 the jobless rate for older black and Asian workers was well above the national average. These numbers don’t account for the seniors who give up looking for work, or those forced to take jobs with lower pay and fewer benefits.

Retirement at age 55 is not an option for many Baby Boomers. With pensions shrinking and expenses increasing, more seniors have to continue working to survive. More must be done to help them get back into the workforce.

Part of the solution is changing the way companies view older employees. There is a perception that hiring seniors will cost more and they won’t be able to perform the necessary work. In reality, older workers offer a wealth of experience and opportunities for intergenerational collaboration.  Here in New York, the drugstore chain CVS is trying to attract senior employees by offering classes to help with the online application process. Companies including Google, AT&T and Toys R Us have signed an AARP pledge to recruit workers from across diverse age groups.

Of course, some seniors need more training opportunities to help them re-enter the job market. The New York City Department for the Aging administers the Senior Employment Services (SES) program, also known as Title 5, which helps older workers with computer classes, job placement and on-site training, while they earn a subsidized income. Seventy-nine percent of participants have successfully kept their jobs after the program ended.  But severe cuts in federal funding have left SES with fewer slots and a long waiting list.

To be sure, job creation efforts should benefit New Yorkers of all ages. But with the senior population expected to double over the next 30 years, this group deserves special attention. They’re ready to work; they just need a chance. With the right opportunities and training, older New Yorkers can help shape our 21st century economy in a positive way.

Council Member
Jessica Lappin,
Chair of the City Council’s Aging Committee
Representative of the
Upper East Side
and Roosevelt Island 

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 17

Cheers for CompassRock

Cheers for CompassRock!
Or their diligence I shall speak!
They’ve repaired a village in a week.
The fliers and organized way they informed us gave a sense of peace and relief.
Our problems were numerous but not beyond belief.
And we really couldn’t make a fuss.
Lights in five, elevator and automatic gas in seven
Almost like being in a second heaven.
Heat and hot water in 10. Television in 21.
Boy, life was once again fun.
But landlines were always a stress.
They proved to be a mess.
The generators even stopped humming in the night.
Unfortunately still visible in the dawn daylight.
Another rarity to be found
Are tents in the playground.
Soon snow will come over the ground
And hide the destruction that did surround,
And spring will come back with its greens and flowers,
With its winds, breezes and frequent showers.
And all the bad things will be things of the past,
Because we know our misery doesn’t last.

N.J. Glaser, PCV

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FEMA Workshop at Stuy Town

FEMA_ClrCommunity residents are invited to The Stuyvesant Town Community Center on Tuesday, January 15th from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. to learn about their options for FEMA assistance, the office of Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh has announced. FEMA representatives will be on hand to answer questions and to help those in attendance register to apply for assistance.

You may be eligible for assistance if your apartment was made unlivable as a result of the storm, if you had disaster-related damage to a vehicle or if you incurred moving or storage expenses due to Sandy.

The Community Center is located at 449 East 14th Street. (Enter via First Avenue Loop at 16th Street and First Avenue).

If you cannot attend the event, you can find more information about applying for FEMA assistance atwww.disasterassistance.gov or by calling1-800-621-3362. The deadline to register for assistance is January 28th.

Disclaimer: This event will be run by FEMA and they will not be able to address rent abatements offered by Waterside Plaza, Stuyvesant Town or Peter Cooper Village management.

Letters to the Editor, Jan. 10

Rent abatement waiver isn’t unfair

To the editor,

Public Advocate DeBlasio and the Tenants Association are seeking headlines by belittling CW Capital’s decision to grant a 15 percent rent reduction, in exchange for a promise not to be sued for losses related to the hurricane.

This is surprising, because tenants have nothing to lose by signing the waiver – and everything to gain.

The maximum damages any tenant could recover in a lawsuit would be the rent such tenant paid during the period in which their apartment did not have power.  Management could contest this argument, noting that most tenants had running water and flashlights.

Moreover, suing management would take three to five years, and legal fees could consume up to a third of any recovery.

With 11,000 tenants in ST/PCV, including hundreds of attorneys, there are bound to be a few lawyers who will try to trick tenants into believing they could recover more than they were due.  But let’s review the results of the Roberts litigation – which took five years and mainly enriched only the lawyers.

Moreover, if a class action were to be initiated against CW Capital, it would throw yet another wrench into the process leading to a non-eviction condo conversion of the property.  A large, outstanding litigation against the property could cause our partner Brookfield Management to have a change of heart, and could spook any financing partners Brookfield would bring to the table.

A more prudent and ethical course for our neighbors is to gracefully accept the rent abatement and to say “thank you.” It would be far more constructive to sign the waiver and acknowledge that CW in fact did heroic work in restoring power after the unprecedented violence of the storm.

Rather than advise a rent strike, the Tenants Association should recall that civility is never a sign of weakness.

Name withheld, ST

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 3

Some downtown areas still need Sandy aid

The following is a letter from State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Council Member Margaret Chin and Council Member Rosie Mendez to Robert Doar, Commissioner of the Human Resources Administration in mid-December.

We write regarding the federal government’s approval of the City’s request to bring the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) to areas of New York City impacted by the storm.

The approval of D-SNAP for residents throughout the city means that more New Yorkers in more places will get food assistance they need in the wake of the storm. Many New York City families continue to struggle in Sandy’s aftermath and D-SNAP is one way to help them through this difficult time. We are particularly pleased that residents from the 10002 zip code are eligible for the program. However, we do have concerns about the accessibility and eligibility of the program for Manhattan residents.

Of the twelve full and partial zip codes approved for D-SNAP in New York City, only one, 10002, is in Manhattan. In Lower Manhattan a large area was devastated by the storm, crossing a number of zip codes with a high proportion of low-income, elderly and vulnerable constituents. We urge the inclusion of additional full and partial zip codes to allow more Manhattan residents impacted by the storm to apply.

Additionally, for such a large program that is complex to administer, just two application centers (in Staten Island and Brooklyn), however large, will deter many eligible New Yorkers from applying. If there were additional application centers closer to more affected zip codes, open for a significant amount of time, it would spread the volume of applicants, reduce pressure on the existing centers, particularly in Brooklyn, and make applications more realistic for those who need it. In light of this, we recommend establishing an application center in Lower Manhattan.

Therefore, we urge the inclusion of additional full and partial zip codes that would allow more New Yorkers in Lower Manhattan impacted by the storm to apply, the opening of additional application centers closer to more affected zip codes, and an extension of the December 18th deadline for applications so that the program is as inclusive as possible for New Yorkers in need. Continue reading