Council bills take aim at tenant buyout offers

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The City Council voted to pass a package of legislation meant to protect rent stabilized tenants from landlord harassment last Thursday. The three bills, one of which was sponsored by Council Member Dan Garodnick, are all specifically related to tenants’ rights when owners offer residents money to vacate their apartment, known as a “buyout.”

“We introduced this bill last year to deal with the specific problem of harassment by tenant relocation specialists,” Garodnick said. “There is nothing governing these interactions between tenants and owners. I think what these bills do is take unscrupulous acts by those who are looking to drive tenants out of their apartments and call them what they are, simply harassments. We are defining the rules of engagement, of how tenants can be approached in this context.”

The bill sponsored by Garodnick would amend the Housing Maintenance Code’s definition of harassment to make it unlawful for a landlord, in connection with a buyout offer, to threaten, intimidate or use profane or obscene language, contact tenants at odd hours or with such a frequency that the behavior would be considered abusive, to contact tenants at their place of employment without prior written consent and to knowingly falsify or misrepresent information provided to the tenant.

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Kips Bay parents want homeless drop-in center to move

This photo, by Kips Bay resident Yael Feder, of a man lying in a building’s planter, was recently shared on the neighborhood Facebook page, “Third and 33rd (and Beyond).”

By Sabina Mollot

Following the news last month that the 30th Street men’s shelter would soon be limiting the residents it accepts to those deemed employable and seeking job training, neighborhood residents have been left wondering why a similar standard can’t be shared with the nearby drop-in center for the shelter.

Called Mainchance, the drop-in center is located at 32nd Street and run by a nonprofit entity called the Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services. It is however, funded by the Department of Homeless Services.

One mom of two young children, Lauren Pohl, has been vocal in calling for change in the area like many of her fed up neighbors in Kips Bay, who’ve recently gotten more organized in their complaining about the local homeless men’s antics. They include frequent public fighting, drug use, urination, aggressive panhandling and lewdness. Pohl and another resident, Mort Greenberg, are co-chairs of active Facebook page, “Third and 33rd (and Beyond!)” where neighbors have been posting almost daily photos of various offenses.

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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Appreciating coverage on people and animals

To the Editor,

First, my thanks to T&V for some wonderful issues in the depths of our summer when so many are away. I especially appreciated the editorial (and letter) on the homeless and Steve Sanders column (in T&V, Aug. 13).

I give regularly to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, which is wonderful and has constantly expanded since 1982 when the congregation thought it would be temporary. They have added a social service unit to connect their guests to services they didn’t know they qualified for. I hope Mayor De Blasio’s plan will enable the Bellevue Shelter to increase their services, and that the change in who it serves will not take forever as your editorial so beautifully stated.

Don’t know if it helps but The Chief (Aug. 14, page 2) mentions several names along with agencies involved in the mayor’s plan that our community might approach.

Speaking as a psychotherapist, it is very tricky to define who is potentially violent so don’t be shy if you’re worried about an individual. As for who is mentally ill, if you have no money or home and you’re hungry, might you not get angry and try to bully a clerk into giving you food? Being upset and in agony is not per se mental illness but it can be.

Steve Sanders’ column (“Killing our sacred cow”) is so rich with insights and well-reasoned that I can not only agree but also hope it will be published again when the news will probably make it needed.

That Cecil the lion suffered has been glossed over to some extent. I heard it was 40 hours of living with an arrow in him before he was found and shot. The American dentist who shot the arrow apparently had no concern for the suffering he was inflicting. Lions seem to have been symbols for we humans for as long as we have history. It’s patience and fortitude who grace the entrance to the 42nd Street library. Can you think of another symbol there? I can’t. C.S. Lewis in Narnia made Aslan a lion. Steve Sanders did a beautiful job of detailing our American culture of guns and killing. With Cecil it felt like Aslan was not only slain but tortured and many of us wept. Let’s hope we can live on with more grace and love.

Joyce Kent, Gramercy

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