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With Stuy Town as backdrop, pols and residents call for housing law reforms by amy zimmer / metro new york > email this to a friend MAY 24, 2007 STUYVESANT TOWN. To demonstrate they’re mad as hell and not going to take anymore of the city’s skyrocketing rents, housing and labor groups joined hundreds of tenants to make a human chain yesterday around Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Dubbed “Hands Around Stuy Town,” the event was the kickoff of a new campaign, called “New York is Our Home,” to reform housing laws, and it has the support of more than 50 city and state elected officials and 100 community organizations. “The housing prices are one of the biggest problems we have in New York,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. She called for a repeal of the state’s Urstadt law that takes rent regulation control out of local elected officials’ hands. “We need to make sure we don’t lose one more affordable apartment to slumlords,” Quinn added, and that “we keep public housing public.” The campaign wants to repeal the $2,000 threshold that allows landlords to exit the rent stabilization program and to prevent tenant harassment by strengthening enforcement of rent laws. It also seeks to preserve Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 housing. City Comptroller William Thompson pointed to the brick buildings behind him and recounted the fight tenants and politicians waged to win the bid for the massive housing complex. Though they didn’t succeed — and rents of deregulated apartments have reportedly soared since Tishman Speyer’s $5.4 billion purchase — Thompson said he and others are working to ensure affordability of Starrett City, a 6,000-unit Mitchell-Lama complex that Clipper Equities LLC has offered to buy for $1.3 billion. Since 2002, more than 11,000 city-regulated Mitchell-Lama units left the program, according to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, but that agency has been working to maintain affordability in those buildings and has been able to keep 20,000 from existing the system. But Thompson lamented potential Mitchell-Lama losses. “Forty-thousand people are watching their homes change from affordable to no longer affordable,” he said. “We need to stand up to make sure all New Yorkers can stay.” Slipping away Between 2002 and 2005, the city lost more than 200,000 apartments affordable to residents making $35,000 or less, while median rents surged nearly 9 percent, according to reports from Housing Here and Now and the Furman Center. May 23, 2007, 4:18 pm Hands Across the Complex By Roja Heydarpour It has been 21 years since Hands Across America, when on May 25, 1986, some five million people joined hands in a line to Long Beach, Calif., from New York to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness. A similarly minded endeavor is planned for this evening in Manhattan. At least 7,000 people are expected to join hands and form a ring around Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, from East 14th to 23rd Streets on First Avenue, at 5:15 p.m. today to protest rising housing costs. Nearly 100 housing, labor and political groups, including the New York City Central Labor Council, the Working Families Party and Acorn (the Association of Community Organizations Reform Now), joined the New York Is Our Home! Affordable Rent Campaign, said Evan Thies, a spokesman for the coalition. Fifty state legislators have endorsed the campaign and at least 2,000 residents of Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town are expected to attend the rally. After holding hands for up to 30 minutes, the group is scheduled to march toward Union Square. In October, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company agreed to sell the two giant complexes Tishman Speyer Properties and the real estate arm of BlackRock for $5.4 billion. Although most of the 25,000 residents are protected by rent stabilization laws, city officials have expressed concern that the new owners, by investing heavily in improving the properties, could speed up the process of removing units from the protection of those laws. E-mail this 1 comments so far... 1. May 24th, 2007 6:42 pm “city officials have expressed concern that the new owners, by investing heavily in improving the properties, could speed up the process of removing units from the protection of those laws.” God forbid, a property owner who wants to improve his properties! Horror of horrors! — Posted by James PROTESTERS IN RING AROUND STUY TOWN By MARK BULLIET May 24, 2007 -- Thousands of housing advocates, tenants on the brink of eviction and even homeless people rallied at Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town yesterday to protest the rising cost of living in New York City. A ring of protesters held hands and encircled the complex between 14th and 23rd streets, chosen as a symbol of the loss of affordable housing in Manhattan. The 80-acre property was sold to real-estate developer Tishman Speyer last year for $5.4 billion. Speakers at the event included New York politicians and union leaders, including Comptroller Bill Thompson, UFT President Randi Weingarten and Central Labor Council head Ed Ott. "The price of housing in this city, is effectively theft to the working people of this city," said Ott.
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