Tenants Association: ‘Roberts’ and recent tenants should pay MCI increase — for now

Tenants Association attorney Tim Collins speaks to residents, while Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Brad Hoylman and TA Chair Susan Steinberg listen. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants Association attorney Tim Collins speaks to residents at a meeting in November, while Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Brad Hoylman and TA Chair Susan Steinberg listen. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After five MCIs (major capital improvement rent increases) were approved by the state housing agency last fall, residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village had their rents raised this month.

Though the ST-PCV Tenants Association has entered into talks with CWCapital and the state housing agency, NYS Homes and Community Renewal, over those rent hikes, in the meantime, the Association is advising “Roberts” class action members as well as those who moved in after the “Roberts” suit was settled to pay their MCIs. At least for now.

Previously, an attorney for the TA had told a resident at a public meeting held in November, who said she’d never gotten a notice about a pending MCI, that she wouldn’t have to pay it. This is because notice must be given to tenants when owners apply for an MCI. However, since the MCIs were for work done on the property by Tishman Speyer in 2009, before the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” suit determined that apartments in ST/PCV were illegally deregulated, tenants in market rate apartments (“Roberts” class members) never got the notices. MCIs are only applicable to rent-stabilized tenants.

“Most if not all of the Roberts and preferential rent tenants never received a notice,” the Tenants Association said in an email blast to neighbors on Friday afternoon. The email, which is also on the TA website (stpcvta.org), went on to note that preferential rent is a rent that is lower than the legal rent-regulated rent for an apartment and the amount a tenant actually agrees to pay. “Roberts” and post-“Roberts” tenants pay preferential rents.

Despite the lack of warning for those tenants, the TA said in its email that while the negotiations with CW continue, tenants should pay the MCIs.

“The TA is in negotiations over the MCIs with management, hoping to resolve them to the benefit of all tenants,” the Tenants Association said. “In the meantime you should pay them as billed. Doing so will not prejudice any of your rights. We will continue to keep you posted as the situation unfolds. Please read the joint statement from counsel for the TA, Management, and the Roberts tenants below:

“The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Tenants Association (ST/PCV-TA), Owner (PCV/ST) and New York State DHCR have been engaged in discussions attempting to reach a negotiated resolution to the recently issued MCI orders. The parties are hopeful that the matter will, in fact, be resolved in the near future.

“In the interim, Owner commenced billing the permanent portion of the MCI rent increase with January 2014 bills. If a negotiated settlement is reached, to the extent agreed upon, there will be an appropriate retroactive adjustment in the rent. Payment at this time will not prejudice any party’s rights or claims. Hence, counsel for all parties have agreed that the increases should be paid while negotiations continue.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment beyond the statement.

 

Susan Steinberg, chair for the Tenants Association, said the TA has heard from between 15 and 20 “Roberts” tenants who said they received the charges.

 

However, when asked about how the negotiations were going, Steinberg said she couldn’t say anything beyond the fact that they’re “ongoing.”

 

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TA, Hoylman to SCRIE/DRIE tenants: Avoid MCIs by filing for tax abatement

Collins Garodnick Kavanagh Hoylman

At a Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association meeting held on MCIs in November, State Senator Brad Hoylman (right) spoke to tenants about SCRIE. Pictured with Hoylman are Tenants Association attorney Tim Collins, Council Member Dan Garodnick and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Though residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were hit in recent months with a total of five MCIs (major capital improvement rent increases), individuals on SCRIE or DRIE are exempt from having to pay them. However, the Tenants Association noted this week, the exemption is not automatic and those tenants have to file for Tax Abatement Credit Applications (TACs) for each of the MCIs they’ve received.

The MCIs went into effect this month, but as of December 27, 2013, the TA said it learned that 59 percent of SCRIE/DRIE tenants in Peter Cooper Village and 77 percent of Stuy Town residents in the programs had not filed for the abatements. Additionally, some of those tenants only filed one application. There are currently between 250 and 300 tenants using SCRIE (senior citizen rent increase exemption) and DRIE (disability rent increase exemption). The programs keep rent-stabilized or rent-controlled residents earning under a certain amount paying the rents they paid when they first signed their leases. This is actually one rent increase behind what they would have paid when signing the lease if not in the program, according to a rep for State Senator Brad Holman. For SCRIE, participants have to be 62 or older and have a household income of no more than $29,000 in the previous calendar year. Additionally, one third of that income must be spent on rent. For DRIE, that amount is $29,484 for a household income in the previous calendar year, $20,412 for single member household in the previous calendar year. One third of the participant’s income must go to rent and the person must be a recipient of government disability benefits.

In an official statement, the TA said it is currently working with CWCapital and CompassRock to make sure SCRIE and DRIE tenants will be covered by the TACS.

But, the Association warned, until tenants file properly, they will have to pay the MCIs. Hoylman, who spoke about the tax abatements at a recent Tenants Association meeting, has also been working with the TA, other local elected officials and the New York City Department of Finance to help tenants file.

“These MCI charges are an unfair burden on the ST-PCV community,” said Hoylman. “My office is reaching out to CWCapital encouraging them to preemptively file applications for adjustment on behalf of all SCRIE and DRIE recipients, who are some of the community’s most vulnerable residents.” At the meeting in November, Hoylman also noted that tenants, if not yet participating in SCRIE or DRIE, would have 90 days to apply within an MCI being issued in order for that MCI to be covered.

This week, Susan Steinberg, chair of the TA, noted that there’s been a lot of confusion among tenants, SCRIE/DRIE and others, when it comes to the MCIs, which the TA has been trying to fight.

“MCIs are definitely a confusing issue, even to those of us who have lived with them for decades,” said Steinberg. She said the TA has gotten about 50 calls and emails on the subject since the January rent bills went out.

Last month, the TA started meeting with CWCapital and the state housing agency in the hopes of reaching some sort of settlement. This is after objecting to an earlier proposal by CW to tenants to reduce the amount of tenants’ retroactive payments in exchange for not joining the TA in its pledge to challenge to the MCIs altogether. Those talks took a break for the holidays, but the effort is still ongoing.

It was in recent months that tenants got MCIs for work done by Tishman Speyer in 2009 on security upgrades, water valves and tanks, doors and resurfacing. There are two MCIs for Peter Cooper and three for Stuyvesant Town.

Meanwhile, the TA has been trying to help tenants who are DRIE/SCRIE understand their responsibilities for exemption.

“We recognize the needs of our SCRIE/DRIE population, many of whom do not have Internet access,” said John Marsh, president of the Tenants Association. “Many have called the TA about receiving MCI charges, thinking they were exempt. We are doing everything we can to assist tenants; many clearly are not aware of the filing requirements.”

According to the TA, filing can be done online as well as by mail.

To get the tax abatement forms online, SCRIE tenants should visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/downloads/pdf/scrie/scrie_tax_adjustment_tenant.pdf.

DRIE tenants should visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/downloads/pdf/drie/drie_adjustment_to_abatement.pdf.

Tenants can also request forms be mailed to them by calling 311 or they can pick one up at Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh’s district office, weekdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at 237 First Avenue at 14th Street in Room 407. The SCRIE/DRIE program also has a walk-in office, open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 66 John Street, third floor.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version to add that according to Hoylman’s office, with SCRIE, a tenant’s rent is kept at what it was when signing a lease, which is what the previous rent would have been before the last legal rent increase was applied. Additionally, the word “not” was omitted in an original version when mentioning the percentage of SCRIE/DRIE tenants who’d not filed for the abatement.

Local events this week: Mammograms, Bird walk, MulchFest

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman at a mammogram event in December

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman at a mammogram event in December

Free mammograms outside Stuyvesant Town

Following a successful event last month in which women 40 and older were offered free mammograms outside of Stuyvesant Town, the mammogram van is back today.

The event sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, is running now through 4 p.m. today on First Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets. Space is limited and appointments are mandatory. Call (800) 564-6868. All insurance plans accepted. Co-payments and deductibles waived. Free for women over 40.

Theater at the 14th Street Y presents ‘Kaddish’

“Kaddish,” a play based on Nobel Prize-winner Imre Kertész’s novel “Kaddish for an Unborn Child,” will run January 10-13 at the Theater at the 14th Street Y.
“Kaddish,” a one-man show featuring Jake Goodman and directed by Barbara Lanciers, comes to the Y following a critically-acclaimed run in Budapest this past June.
The play is an exploration of ritual and loss. It looks at a father’s unrelenting conflict over the absence of the child he never had during his ultimately doomed marriage. A Holocaust survivor, he had refused to bring a child into a world where horrors like the one he experienced can occur. The longing and regret that haunt this character give rise to one of the most eloquent meditations ever written on the Holocaust. The production is intimate, featuring a solo performance by Jake Goodman on a 10-foot square stage covered in dirt and light.
Performances (55 minutes in length) are Jan. 10 at 5 and 7 p.m., Jan. 11 at 11 a.m., 3 and 9 p.m., Jan. 12 at 1, 4 and 6 p.m. and Jan. 13 at 3 and 5 p.m. Tickets, $18, can be purchased at http://www.14streety.org/boxoffice or by calling 1-800-838-3006. The Theater at the 14th Street Y is located at 344 East 14th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Bobby Fulham memorial game set for January 11

On Saturday, January 11, 2014 the sixth annual Bobby Fulham Epiphany Alumni basketball game will be held at Xavier High School in the main gym, 30 West 16th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Doors open for registration and warm-ups at 6 p.m. The ladies’ game is at 7 p.m. Men’s game to follow.
The late Bobby Fulham, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, was a good friend to many families in the neighborhood and was instrumental in getting the Epiphany Basketball Program to the level it is at today. Fulham lost his battle to cancer five years ago this past November. Every year many former players return to play in the game in his honor.
All of the proceeds of this year’s event will be donated to the CYO Basketball and the Epiphany School basketball program. Admission is a $20 donation, which includes a commemorative t-shirt, $5 for students and kids. Players are also asked to donate $20. All checks should be made out to CYO. For more information, contact Ray Curley (rtcurley99@aol.com), Tom Issing (tgi32@aol.com) or Mike Nealy (Michael.nealy@admlaw.com).

Bird walk on January 12

On Sunday, January 12 at 9 a.m., Anne Lazarus will lead a bird walk through Stuyvesant Cove Park and Stuyvesant Town. This free event will begin at the 20th street entrance to Stuyvesant Cove Park near the rocky outcropping, continue through the park and end in Stuyvesant Town. Possible bird sightings include several winter water birds as well as some interesting ducks. It is also hoped that the Varied Thrush, a rare bird recently spotted in Stuyvesant Town, will stay in the area until then. The walk will last approximately two hours and will take place even in the event of light rain. All are invited to participate and encouraged to bring cameras and binoculars. The Stuyvesant Cove Park Association would love to receive any photos of birds spotted on the walk. They can be sent to stuyvesantcove@yahoo.com.

Kips Bay neighborhood Alliance fundraiser

The Kips Bay Neighborhood Alliance is holding a fundraiser at Hill & Bay, 581 Second Avenue, on Monday, January 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to raise awareness and membership. The event will give residents a chance to meet their neighbors, community leaders and local elected officials. The $20 suggestion donation for the event includes annual membership to the KBNA, one drink ticket and appetizers. There will also be a cash bar available. For more information, contact kbna.info@gmail.com.

MulchFest in Stuyvesant Town, Tompkins Sq. Park

Stuyvesant Town and Tompkins Square Park will be participating as chipping sites in MulchFest on Saturday, January 11 and Sunday, January 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At this event, New Yorkers are encouraged to bring their discarded Christmas trees to be recycled into mulch. The site at Stuyvesant Town will be at the East 20th Street Loop and the site in Tompkins Square Park will be at East 7th Street between Avenues A and  B.  Free mulch will be available at each chipping site. Trees can also be brought to a drop-off site beginning on January 4 through January 12 to be recycled later. Special curbside collection for mulching and recycling of trees will be conducted by the Department of Sanitation from December 30 to January 15.

Coat drive at Oval Concierge through January 15

New York Cares is working with Community Partners in NYC to distribute coats to New Yorkers in need. A temporary bin has been set up at Oval Concierge to make it easy for PCV/ST residents to donate new or clean, gently used jackets and coats from Thursday, January 9 through Wednesday, January 15 at Oval Concierge (276 First Ave).

MORE EVENTS

For listings om local entertainments events: concerts, theater, comedy, burlesque, art exhibits, kids’ events, discussions and more, see T&V’s Around & About page.

For listings on local health and fitness events: support groups, screenings, classes and more, see T&V’s Health and Fitness page.

For listings on events held at local houses of worship: talks, special services, classes and volunteer efforts, see T&V’s Religion Page.