Now a senator, Kavanagh says rent regs are still top priority

State Senator Brian Kavanagh reflected on his career in Albany so far at a Pret shop near his office, which was already in boxes earlier this month. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, December 7, Brian Kavanagh, who had served as Assembly member representing Manhattan’s 74th District for 11 years, took the oath of office for his new role as state senator. While his Assembly district, which included Stuyvesant Town, Waterside, Tudor City and a handful of other East Side neighborhoods, is now vacant, Kavanagh’s new beat, the 26th Senatorial District, formerly represented by Daniel Squadron, spans part of Brooklyn’s waterfront and much of Lower Manhattan.

Just days before Kavanagh officially began his new position, he met with a Town & Village reporter at a Pret sandwich shop near his legislative office (since the office itself was already packed up in boxes) to discuss his reason for switching chambers and how he still plans to fight for affordable housing.

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City pouring $250M into Mitchell-Lamas if they stay in program

East Midtown Plaza (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The mayor’s office has announced a plan to protect affordability at remaining Mitchell-Lama developments throughout the city through additional financing of $250 million.

A representative from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development confirmed that the funding will be available for all Mitchell-Lama developments, meaning that the East Midtown Plaza complex west of First Avenue and East 24th Street will be getting some of the funds. The specific needs of individual developments will determine how the resources are used, but information on the exact amounts is not yet clear.

“The Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program will focus on preserving the long-term affordability of all residences currently enrolled in the program,” HPD representative Matthew Creegan said. “It will utilize an array of financing tools, determined by the individual needs of each project, as an incentive for these properties to remain in the program as stable, sustainable and affordable homes for years to come.”

The mayor’s office noted that the new program will target 15,000 homes over the next eight years. Known as the Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program, the initiative is part of the mayor’s plan to create and preserve affordable housing throughout the city by financing 200,000 affordable home and expanding to 300,000 affordable homes by 2026.

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Letters to the editor, Nov. 2

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Tenants will win with Powers

Keith Powers is the clear choice for City Council. Like me, Keith is a third-generation resident of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village.  Keith is uniquely qualified to tackle the issues facing tenants.

His work as a member of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, as well as his commitment to affordability, has been demonstrated time and time again. On the campaign trail, Keith rolled out a platform that would expand affordability through opposing rent increases at the Rent Guidelines Board and permanent MCI increases, protecting and increasing access to the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program, as well as committing to exploring legal options to protect Robert’s tenants, who are slated to lose vital ​protection in 2020.
Keith grew up in a rent-stabilized apartment, so issues of affordability hit home for him. He knows the impact that affordable housing has on people’s lives and our community. Keith doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He has been endorsed by organizations, like Tenants PAC, for his commitment to protecting affordable housing.

For all these reasons and more, I hope you will join me in voting for Keith Powers for City Council on November 7.

John Marsh, PCV

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Mayor grilled on garage

Council Member Dan Garodnick and Mayor Bill de Blasio at a town hall on Tuesday (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Tuesday, the mayor was grilled about the proposed sanitation garage for East 25th Street by neighbors who attended a town hall.

The hotly-contested issue was the topic of discussion at numerous Community Board 6 meetings when it was first announced in 2012 but the plan has stalled in the last two years, and Mayor de Blasio said at the town hall, which was also hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick, that the issue will be reviewed again once the next term for City Council begins.

“The fundamental problem is that the facilities are concentrated in Lower Manhattan so we need some kind of facility to serve this area and so far this seems like the most viable site,” he said. “But there should be a real conversation about what the community needs.”

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ST/PCV residents list their demands for next council member

Al Ng and Lillian Hsu want to see more affordability for mere mortals. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A day before the primary, we asked around in Stuyvesant Town for voters’ opinions on what the newly elected City Council member, who’ll be determined in the general election, should focus on.

In response, they gave answers that wouldn’t shock anyone in this city, stressing a need to prioritize affordability, saving small businesses, transit improvements and improvements to public education.

Read on for more on the aforementioned issues that need fixing in District 4, which covers Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, Waterside, East Midtown, part of Times Square and the Upper East Side.

Sue Kershbaumer, while strolling through the Oval with her daughter, said her biggest concern was schools — specifically lack of resources and classroom seats for kids with special needs like hers.

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 31

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Speranza will protect affordability

Last month, our City Council approved a package of tenant-protection bills that will provide legal counsel to low-income tenants facing eviction, and curb tenant harassment. This is a huge victory for tenants, but there’s still much more we must do – especially in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, where rent-stabilized tenants know first-hand the struggles of rising rents. This fall, we must elect a Council Member who will adopt bold, innovative solutions to solve the affordability crisis. That’s why I’ve endorsed Democrat Marti Speranza.

While every candidate talks about affordable housing, Marti has a workable 19 point plan that will protect residents of ST/PCV while preserving and creating more permanently affordable housing throughout the district. A cornerstone of her Plan for A Livable City is creating a citywide Community Land Trust (CLT), a proven method of transforming underutilized land into permanently affordable housing.

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Former Obama staffer runs for Council

Ronnie Cho with former President Barack Obama at the White House (Photo by Pete Souza)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Village resident Ronnie Cho knew that he wanted to be in public service when he saw how hard his parents worked as struggling small business owners while he was growing up.

“That experience made me want to help my community,” he said. “I didn’t know about politics then but I had the seed of public service planted early. I wanted to be a part of the process that elected good people.”

Cho is running to replace term-limited City Councilmember Rosie Mendez in District 2, which covers the East Village as well as Union Square, Alphabet City, Kips Bay, Murray Hill and parts of the Lower East Side, and is a former staffer from the Obama administration in addition to previous roles with MTV in social engagement and public affairs.

Cho’s parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea and ultimately settled in Phoenix, where Cho and his siblings grew up and where they opened a restaurant in which he spent his childhood years. Cho ultimately studied political science in college with the goal of connecting with people in the community.

“People need a relationship with government,” he said. “I believe government should be a force of good. It should have a role in creating opportunities and protecting people. You need to stand on street corners and be ready to be yelled at, disagreed with. It’s part of the process.”

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Real estate attorney running for City Council

Erin Hussein (Photos courtesy of Erin Hussein)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Real estate attorney Erin Hussein, a candidate for City Council, said that she was motivated to join the race because she’s invested in her neighborhood, the East Village.

“I’m running for District 2 because of District 2,” she said. “I’ve lived here for more than 20 years and it’s been intertwined with my entire life.”

Hussein, a Democrat, is running to replace term-limited City Councilmember Rosie Mendez. She moved to the city for college in 1988 after growing up in Waterbury, Connecticut. While New York is a bigger city, Hussein said she sees neighborhoods that make up the communities as similar to small towns like hers.

“Cities are organisms,” she said. “It’s a collection of neighborhoods, a collection of people. But we’re becoming less focused on people and more focused on buildings, and on the very wealthy elites.”

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Attorney running to replace Mendez

Jorge Vasquez, a lifetime Lower East Sider and attorney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Lower East Side resident Jorge Vasquez has his lifelong neighborhood to thank for his aspiring City Council candidacy. Vasquez, an attorney who is running to replace term-limited City Councilmember Rosie Mendez in District 2, said that it was the local Boys & Girls Republic, as well as his mother’s influence, that got him involved in community advocacy.

“It was a tradition with me and my mom on Election Day where we would wake up and I would go with her to the polls,” he said, recalling that he and his mother also canvassed for Antonio Pagan, the City Councilmember for District 2 in the 1990s prior to Mendez’s predecessor, Margarita Lopez.

Vasquez said that he started attending programming at the Boys & Girls Republic, which offer youth the opportunity to participate in self-government, at age six and was putting bills together by age 10. When Vasquez joined, the program was known as the Boys Brotherhood Republic but the program later became part of the Henry Street Settlement and was renamed the Boys & Girls Republic.

“Those programs give youth the opportunity to be active in the community,” he said. “Being part of democracy, and even to be familiar with the courtroom and jury rules, is so important. I wouldn’t be an attorney without access to these programs and the advocacy it instilled in me.”

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PCV Council candidate fighting for affordable housing

Barry Shapiro in Peter Cooper Village (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In the City Council race for the seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick, a Peter Cooper Village resident has recently stepped in as a candidate, with a platform of affordable housing and maintaining quality of life in the district.

Barry Shapiro, 72, who’s lived in Peter Cooper for 25 years (with another 15 in Stuyvesant Town before that), said he entered the race “quietly” in April and is now in the process of petitioning.

“I know a lot of people are concerned about rent stabilization and the continuation of the Democrats having a majority (in the State Senate),” said Shapiro.

Housing regulations, of course, are determined in Albany rather than in City Hall, but Shapiro maintained that it still helps for the local Council members to fight in the ongoing battle for tenant protections.

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Roof painting in ST/PCV should make buildings cooler in summer

Painters at work in Stuyvesant Town (Photos by Gursimran Toor, StuyTown Property Services)

By Sabina Mollot

Early in June, Stuyvesant Town Property Services (SPS) announced that work had begun on a project aimed at cooling the complex’s buildings down in the summer — by painting the roofs.

Dubbed “Cool Roofs,” the initiative is part of a city program that debuted in 2009. For Stuy Town’s buildings, the city is footing the bill for the painting of the building roofs in white, reflective paint. (So tenants do not have to worry about a looming major capital improvement rent increase.)

An email sent to residents on June 8 said the work began that day with all of Stuy Town’s and Peter Cooper Village’s roofs to be included.

As the email from SPS notes, “during a typical summer day, flat, black asphalt rooftops can reach temperatures of 190°F. A roof treated with a specialized white coating can reduce internal building temperatures by up to 30 percent due to the sun’s rays reflecting off the roof instead of being absorbed. As an added benefit, this lessens the power needed to run A/C units resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions. Every 2,500 square feet of roof coated with the reflective paint can reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 1 ton of CO2. The program aims to coat 1 million square feet of rooftop annually.”

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Town & Village co-hosts City Council debate at Waterside Plaza

On Thursday night, an evening of debate among the candidates running to replace Dan Garodnick in the City Council was held at Waterside Plaza. The event’s hosts were Town & Village newspaper, the Waterside Tenants Association and Waterside management with the event taking place outdoors. A story covering the views of the various candidates on affordable housing, small businesses, issues affecting seniors, and the sanitation garage the city plans to build at the Brookdale campus, is forthcoming. Scroll down to see some photos from the debate, where all seats on the plaza were filled with a mixed crowd of community residents and candidates’ supporters.

Richard Ravitch, owner of Waterside Plaza and former lieutenant governor, makes opening remarks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Crowd at the debate

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal, event co-host

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Opinion: Fair housing in an unfair world

Ashley Skaria
Baruch College 2019, Macaulay Honors College 2019

Every news cycle contains a headline documenting another case of widespread discrimination.  Whether it be President Trump’s executive order, coined the “Muslim ban”, which barred immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries to the alarming rise in anti-Semitic incidents, it appears that there is an increase in intolerant and prejudicial behavior. Despite this changing culture, it is important to stay vigilant and protect people’s basic rights. The rising discriminatory culture in America can have serious effects on many policy issues, one of them being fair housing.

Fair housing was established by the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and is essentially the right to choose housing free from discrimination. The Act was passed in the aftermath of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and was a key issue for the Civil Rights Movement.

The history of fair housing has been contentious and it remains so. The Fair Housing Act attempts to reverse decades of discriminatory federal housing policy, such as redlining and blockbusting, to create fully integrated communities.

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Man arrested for Section 8 scam

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested 33-year-old Carlos Angulo Delgado for petit larceny last Monday at 7 p.m. inside the 13th Precinct. Police said that Delgado told the victim that she would be placed at the top of an apartment waiting list in exchange for cash.

Police said that a victim flagged an officer down in the street because Delgado allegedly claimed to be a New York City employee who promised the victim that he would help her obtain Section 8 housing. The victim told police that she paid Delgado $1,000 for his services on May 28 at 570 West 207th Street and refused to pay any more because Delgado did not have employee identification on him. Police said that they recovered a binder from Delgado containing Section 8 paperwork. According to the DA’s office, the binder had records for at least 10 other individuals relating to Section 8 housing, in which victims allegedly gave Delgado cash in exchange for priority treatment for Section 8 housing. The DA’s office said that incidents dated back to September 2016.

No further information was available about where the Section 8 housing Delgado allegedly offered was.

Former PCV resident returns through apartment lottery

Nichole Levin, holding a gift bag with slippers at home on Monday, is happy to be back in Peter Cooper Village. Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, March 31, Nichole Levin, an elementary school teacher and Peter Cooper Village native, got the phone call she’d been waiting for over a year. Her application to the Stuyvesant Town lottery for reduced rent apartments had been accepted. In fact, she was told, she could move in right away, and the apartment was in the same building in Peter Cooper Village as her mother’s home.

The news came as a happy ending to what was a somewhat stressful process, due to the wait — she’d even had to extend her current lease in Tudor City by a month while sorting out a paperwork issue.

Levin, 41, has since spoke with Town & Village about her experience, and has also since moved in (on Monday).

It was last March when the lottery opened for the first time, inviting those with incomes no higher than 165 percent of the area median income as well as those earning no more than 80 percent of the AMI to apply. Levin, who teaches English as a Second Language, had an income that made her eligible for apartments for renters in the upper income tier. Last March, this was $74,850-$99,825 for a single person seeking a studio or one-bedroom. It wasn’t until September, however, that she was contacted for a routine credit check.

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