Letters to the editor, Apr. 5

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Fight for rent regs important this year

The City Council renewed our NYC Rent Control and NYC Rent Stabilization laws on March 22. “Ho Hum,” you may say, “the City does that every three years.” True as the Council’s triennial renewal of these rent laws is, I put to you that this year is markedly different. How so?

This year the NYC laws’ renewal was led by our new Council Speaker, Corey Johnson. I attended Johnson’s inauguration on Jan. 28 and on the topic of tenant rent justice I found him electrifying.  He saw clearly that the fight is in Albany and he has committed to lead the vanguard from NYC to strengthen protections.

At his inauguration he pointedly said  “Furthermore, working with my partners in state government, I pledge to help lead the fight to press Albany to not only renew our rent laws, but to finally – once and for all – close the loopholes that are allowing landlords to deregulate thousands of affordable apartments every year.”

To this end, Corey Johnson prioritized convening a meeting of approximately 60 tenant advocates and community groups in his second month as speaker. (Both Susan Steinberg and I attended on March 6.)  He explained it was necessary to strategize now for the 2019 expiration of the laws. He pushed us to early, coordinated action directed at Albany.

I was underprepared for his willingness to champion this issue. I was equally underprepared for his deft understanding that a straight renewal is not enough.

We need action in 2018 because Andrew Cuomo is shrewd and wily. Our rent protections come up for renewal in June 2019. The June 2019 sunset was deliberate when the laws were last renewed in 2015: It is seven months after Cuomo and all 213 state legislators have elections.  It is a date deliberately chosen to wither our power in the tenant movement.

So we need to force Albany to deal with this now.  We need to make Cuomo do the “strengthen-tenant-laws” walk and get passed three pro-tenant bills this year.  So far, Cuomo is just “talk talk talk” as our rent protections further vanish. We need to rub the governor’s nose in his inaction; his preference for a divided state house; his acceptance of the anti-democratic IDC; his failure to schedule timely elections for 11 vacant Assembly and Senate seats.

Corey Johnson’s willingness to stick up for and stick his neck out for tenants in just his first three months as speaker is thrilling. It is far more than Andrew Cuomo has evidenced in his seven years as governor.

Marina Metalios, ST

Fond memories of NY Infirmary

Re: “When a Stuyvesant Square hospital was run entirely by women doctors,” T&V, Mar. 22

I’m proud to tell you that I gave birth to my son, Milo, at the Women’s Infirmary in October 1963. The doctors, all women, many of color, were just wonderful! We were pretty low on money since my husband, a merchant seaman, was staying home to be with me and I, at that time, was an artists’ model. Few male painters wanted a nude pregnant model. The one exception to that rule was Raphael Soyer, a well-known artist who sought out pregnant women.  A beautiful drawing of me was in his show at the Whitney!

Harriet Zwerling, ST

3 thoughts on “Letters to the editor, Apr. 5

  1. I am cautiously optimistic about Johnson. He talks a good game, but he also received $63,000 in campaign donations from real estate executives. Something has to give at some point, I just worry that money will win out. It always does, and the history of politicians proves just that.

    On another note, I noticed Susan Steinberg’s name mentioned in the Johnson article. I want to be on record that I requested financials and meeting minutes from Susan and the TA, as required by law, and have still not heard a thing.

  2. Until a tax or fee or removing any tax benefit is removed from warehousing apartments and store fronts are removed, the greed of real estate owners will not be abated. They have no incentive to be reasonable and may leave property vacant as long as there is no financial incentive to do otherwise.

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