L train construction and other train related issues will be discussed on Saturday. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
As was announced earlier this month, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association will be holding a meeting a number of issues on Saturday, September 29 at 2 p.m.
Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg says those who attend can expect to learn more about the following topics:
One will be the L train, specifically residents’ concerns surrounding construction, and, once the shutdown begins, transportation.
“The MTA and the DOT are being awfully vague about what their plans are,” Steinberg said. “As you reported about the L train, they talk about mitigation steps but they don’t say what they are. And I love how they said they’re not really going to be 24/7, but if they need to be, they will.”
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.
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Local elected officials have started holding workshops to enroll residents in Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) programs since a report came out earlier this year noting that less than half of eligible tenants are receiving the benefits they are entitled to.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, along with State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, most recently hosted an event at 535 East Fifth Street on October 23 to encourage eligible seniors and disabled residents to sign up for the program that would freeze their rent, and the workshop was attended by about 30 tenants.
SCRIE and DRIE, collectively known as the New York City Rent Freeze Program, is available to seniors over age 62 and tenants with disabilities. Eligible tenants receive rent increase exemptions through a property tax credit and the income threshold increased to $50,000, from the previous limit of $29,000, earlier this year.
Attorneys from Legal Aid and legal firm Skadden Arps were available at the workshop to help residents complete their paperwork but Senator Hoylman noted that filing for the benefits doesn’t necessarily require a fine-tuned legal mind.
“A big part of it is education,” he said. “A number of people who are eligible just don’t know that it’s available, and because it’s pegged to income, you have to re-enroll every year.”
Senator Hoylman cited the low enrollment specifically in Stuyvesant Town as one of the motivating factors for holding the workshops. The report from the Department of Finance found that Stuy Town was one of the most underenrolled neighborhoods in the city, with only 1,317 out of 5,144 eligible residents enrolled in the program, meaning that only 25 percent of eligible seniors and tenants with disabilities are receiving benefits.
Liliana Vaamonde, Director of Training for the Civil Practice with Legal Aid, also noted that education is an important component for enrolling residents in the program, mainly because of the recent changes in the income limit.
“There was a big change that happened last year with the income level so a whole new, large group of people are now eligible,” she said. “The city has been making an effort to do outreach at senior centers and elsewhere so it’s going to take time to inform everyone about the increase.”
Vaamonde added that there are a few misconceptions about the program that residents have at the workshops as well, relating to eligibility and the income level. She clarified that some tenants are confused about why they are not eligible even though their own income is below the $50,000 threshold.
“It’s about the household and not their individual income, so even if a primary tenant has an income below $50,000, other members of the household might bump it up too high,” she said.
She also clarified that the program is only available to tenants who live in rent-regulated housing and they often get questions about eligibility from residents in public housing or privately owned buildings who do meet the income requirements.
“This is all contingent on the fact that they have rent stabilized housing,” Vaamonde said.
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side, has been doing her part to increase education about the program, with legislation that requires landlords to notify tenants about programs that would freeze their rents. Assemblymember Rosenthal announced this past Monday that the bill had been signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, via an email blast sent out late Thursday, is urging residents to attend a rally at City Hall on Monday at 9 a.m. Read on for details.
Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg with politicians including Council Member Dan Garodnick, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Senator Charles Schumer, at a rally at City Hall in June (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
Is your rent more than $4,000 . . . less than $2,500 . . . or anywhere in between?
THIS AFFECTS YOU
On June 15–less than four months from now–all rent protections will end unless renewed by the state legislature and the governor. By March 11, New York City needs to renew the rent laws too. Without renewal, you may not be able to afford your rent. Every one of us is affected.
Ambushed by a massive rent increase on renewal?
Tired of paying MCIs forever?
Want this to change?
Kickoff event: Monday, March 2, at 9 a.m.
Rally on the steps of City Hall.
Attend hearing afterward, City Council chambers, 2nd floor.
Next step: Pressure the state legislature, the new Speaker of the Assembly, and the Governor:
write letters (by hand, if you can-it shows politicians you care)
complete online and hand-signed petitions
attend rallies and hearings
We’ll be sending you more information soon.
If you don’t act . . .
Without rent stabilization, there will be no limits on rent increases and no automatic right to a lease renewal. We could all face eviction at the landlord’s whim.
Without renewal of rent stabilization, Roberts means nothing and SCRIE/DRIE will disappear.
We can win only if you participate. Want to do even more? Let us know by phone or email.
Have you considered volunteering with us? If you have special skills or want to help distribute flyers and talk to neighbors in your building, let us know by calling the Message Center at (866) 290-9036 or signing up at: http://stpcvta.org/neighbor.network.