DHCR rejects TA’s objection to MCIs for roof, elevator projects

By Sabina Mollot

The Division of Housing and Community Renewal has rejected arguments made by the ST-PCV Tenants Associations against two MCIs for projects done years ago and now, retroactive portions of the MCIs are subject to collection. One was for new elevators in 2006, and the other was for work on building roofs in 2005.

The MCIs (major capital improvements) were for Stuy Town only and not all buildings got them. However, both were challenged through a petition for administrative review (PAR), which Susan Steinberg, chair of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, said was shot down this week.

Steinberg said she got the notice from the state housing agency on Tuesday, which was dated August 29, denying tenants’ arguments that the old elevators hadn’t outlived their useful lives and other challenges that were related to the projects. “They kept repeating this phrase: ‘They do not see our claims as basis for revoking the administrator’s order,’” Steinberg said. The TA has 60 days from the date of the notice to challenge the order through an article 78. “We’re conferring with our attorney,” Steinberg said.

The elevator MCI costs tenants in 70 buildings between $9-13 per room in their apartments. The roof project took place at 31 buildings with MCIs of $7-8.50 per apartment. MCIs, which are paid in perpetuity, also come with a retroactive portion dated to the time of the work. Tenants who had filed PARs were exempt from having to pay the retroactive portion while the MCI was pending appeal.

Reps for the DHCR once told the Tenants Association leaders that one fifth of the MCI applications it sees come from ST/PCV. “I think Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper takes up one third of their filing cabinets,” said Steinberg. The TA has in the past blasted the DHCR for acting as a “rubber stamp” for the owner. The August 29 notice comes months after a settlement between CWCapital and the Tenants Association to eliminate or reduce five other MCIs that were approved last fall.

Reps for CWCapital and Homes and Community Renewal, the umbrella agency that includes DHCR, didn’t respond to a request for comment by Town & Village’s deadline.

Correction: The print version of this article incorrectly states that cost of the roof MCI as being per room, rather than per apartment.

4 thoughts on “DHCR rejects TA’s objection to MCIs for roof, elevator projects

  1. I clearly support the repeal of “Forever MCI costs” increases to our rents. Once something is paid for, one should not have to continue paying for it in base rent increases. It is simply a wrong to have to continue to pay for something once the costs have been recouped. In fact, if this was a loan, it would be illegal or worse, it would be considered a racket if run by a mob.

    The Tenants Association failed in this effort (try as they might) by presenting the wrong argument and not strongly demanding our local elected officials to end “Forever MCI increases” or risk their support.

    Anyone who lived in Stuyvesant Town for any length of time remembers the archaic elevators requiring manual opening of heavy metal doors and continual failure to close thus making the entire elevator inoperable. Even the early replacement elevators were failing (poor management decisions and oversight). However, the tenants Association notion that the elevators did not reach the end of their service life – if that was truly their argument, is just misinformed. The TA needs to heed and take better professional advise either Pro-bono or paid from experts.

    Now regarding elimination of “Forever MCI’s”, the Tenants association should lead by informing all the local state elected officials that they will not get their support or recommend their support unless this Real Estate benefit law is repealed.

    And to be fair and reasonable, (and to give our politicians some room to maneuver), the law could allow some MCI costs but once the cost of any improvement is paid in full, payments should cease and not part of the base rent increases.

    Further MCI’s would only be permitted, if some part of base rent payments for any regulated apartment is dedicated toward capital replacement costs to reduce MCI charges.

    Instead, what happens is our elected propose a change in the MCI law, the TA supports it, a rally is held and the law knowingly fails to pass. This scenario has been going on for decades.

    Politicians are given a lifetime job (including leader Silver), yet MCI costs never change. Enough is enough, now its time to take a stand and get this done. This is a failure of action by our state representatives.

    Would anyone including Sheldon Silver go to a doctor who continually failed resolving the same ailment?

  2. Those old elevators were rehabilitated and given new control systems and more before they were prematurely replaced. Your specious argument that the doors wouldn’t close doesn’t apply universally, and could have easily been remedied by having doors that were defective replaced at a significantly lower cost, and would have been most likely ineligible for MCI as it would be considered routine maintenance. You see why they replaced the elevators, because they pay for themselves and provide profit thereafter.

  3. Re: the tenants who filed PARs and didn’t have to pay the retroactive charge, do we have to pay that now all in one lump sum or will it be spread over time?

  4. Oh, Mr. Oddo, you have the right idea, but your analysis is way off base. Our elected officials are indeed all in favor of changing the MCI provisions, but without a State Senate that agrees and passes legislation that the Assembly does, that won’t happen. (I don’t have to spell out the political disaster that is the State Senate and the egregious nonaction on the part of Gov. Cuomo, do it? Repeat: Gov. Cuomo has been useless to our cause.) Since you’re devoting so much time to thinking about this, why don’t you come up with a plan that negates the money real estate donates to upstate candidates to vote against our interests? Why not come up with a horse trade that would persuade them? Your MCI proposal doesn’t sound like it would amount to enough for landlords who see mega dollar signs ad infinitum every time they file for an MCI. Can I assume you will be ringing doorbells and knocking on doors in support of the opponent of Jeff Klein, a DINO (Democrat in Name Only)? That would be a start.

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