Letters to the editor, Mar. 19

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Tenants should campaign against Blackstone 

I attended the press conference on March 5 announcing that the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association had filed legal action in New York State Supreme Court to protect about 6,200 rent-stabilized units in the community from being illegally deregulated by The Blackstone Group.

The Blackstone Group, a global private equity firm, is a member of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). Blackstone, which is primarily owned and run by five of the greediest predators on earth, want to turn Stuy Town into a cash cow by raising rents sky high. The company is led by Stephen Schwarzman, chairman, CEO and co-founder. His net worth is $18.5 billion and he owns 231,924,793 shares or 47% of the company’s stock valued on March 5th at approximately $58 per share. His pay from 2016-2018 was $242 million.

The other four top executives at Blackstone are President Jonathan Gray (2016-2018 pay: $309 million), Executive Vice Chairman Hamilton James (2016-2018 pay: $232 million), Chief Financial Officer Michael Chae (2016-2018 pay: $65 million) and Vice Chairman J. Tomilson Hill (2016-2018 pay: $60 million).

Each member of Blackstone’s board receive $360,000, plus tens of thousands more if they chair certain committees.

It’s no surprise that Blackstone and its real estate wheelers and dealers are “proud members” of REBNY. REBNY is one of the worst institutions to ever plague New York City. Its top policymakers are often referred to as a bunch of billionaire bullies and racketeers. Corrupt activities by many influential REBNY members and their companies have inflicted great harm upon New York City and millions of New Yorkers. Their actions are at the heart of the city’s lack of affordable housing and homeless crisis, thousands of small businesses being displaced and shutting down, the loss and diminishing quality of local jobs, neighborhoods disappearing, increasing construction worker injuries and fatalities and the compromising and corrupting of our political system.

None of Blackstone’s executives or board members would have a problem with evicting thousands of families from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in order to feed their insatiable greed. If the courts don’t stop them, a powerful campaign directed at Blackstone’s political and economic vulnerabilities could!

Ray Rogers
Director, Corporate Campaign, Inc./Campaign to Stop REBNY Bullies

Owners pledge to halt evictions 

Owners representing more than 155,000 rental units in the city, and the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), a real estate trade association, pledged in an open letter to be published in several newspapers not to execute any warrant of eviction for the next 90 days in response to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The letter was signed by William C. Rudin, REBNY Chairman, James Whelan, REBNY President, and leading New York rental building owners and managers, including Blackstone.

In crises, New Yorkers pull together. Now is a time for everyone to do their share.

No one knows how bad the impact of the COVID-19 virus will be. That’s why New Yorkers are taking extraordinary steps to slow the spread of the virus and protect our most vulnerable people.

We want to do our share too. As owners and managers of more than 155,000 rental apartments in the City, we will help our residents weather this crisis safely in their homes.

Starting immediately, we are voluntarily pledging that we will not execute any warrant of eviction for the next ninety days unless it is for criminal or negligent behavior that jeopardizes the life, health or safety of other residents. With all the stress, health risk and economic suffering going on now, no one should have to worry about losing their place to live during this crisis.

With New York at risk, we must come together and protect our residents.  We can’t shake hands or hug each other right now. But we must all turn toward each other and help each other. Together, we will survive this crisis — and so will this wonderful city we all love.

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