By Sabina Mollot
With the rent law negotiations in Albany just a couple of weeks away, The ST-PCV Tenants Association is asking neighbors to make their feelings on the matter known through social media.
The “Tell Your Story” campaign encourages Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village tenants to share their personal experiences dealing with rent increases, including major capital improvements (MCIs). Prior to the June 15 decision on whether the rent regulation laws will be strengthened or renewed as is or just allowed to expire (the latter of which is not expected), tenants’ tweets with the hashtag #tellyourstory will be compiled and sent to Governor Cuomo.
“We want our legislators to understand that real people are affected by rent regulation,” said Susan Steinberg, chair of the TA. “It’s not just units, it’s about people’s lives.”
She added, “It’s only 140 characters. How hard can it be?”
In addition, the campaign is aimed at drawing awareness to MCIs and their impact on tenants. “Many new tenants don’t understand MCIs and their implications,” Steinberg said. “Tenants need to know that MCIs can amount to thousands of dollars a year in charges. And the best way to do that is by communicating personal experiences.”
To keep things interesting, tenants aren’t being asked to type their stories onto a keyboard but instead write on paper and take a photo of the note. So far it’s been the TA doing the posting of neighbors’ notes but Tenants Association President John Marsh is hoping neighbors will soon chime in on their own feeds. It’s the first social media campaign for the Tenants Association and since many Stuy Town lifers don’t tweet, TA volunteers are now finding themselves in the position of first having to educate newer neighbors about what the rent laws mean and the changes tenants are hoping for. Those changes include vacancy decontrol, MCI reform and an end to preferential rents.
“Everyone in this community is impacted by these Albany decisions and MCIs,” Marsh said. “This campaign provides an outlet for tenants to make their voice known.”
Of the notes to be put on Twitter so far, one shared by the TA (@ST_PCV_Tenants) read, “I’ve lived here 65 years I don’t wanna go.” Another read, “Uncontrolled landlords are pricing even middle incomes out of Manhattan.” Another read, “I’ve been living here six months. Rent laws should be extended for everyone.”
The Tenants Association also previously asked tenants at a meeting last month to write postcards or letters to Albany legislators, in particular to Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and local Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh. The Association is also organizing a bus trip to Albany on June 9. Anyone interested in going should RSVP by June 4 online at stpcvta.org or by calling (917) 338-7860.