P. A . ’ L . A . N .T. E . N E W S 2012
Volume 2, Issue 1
HOMELESSNESS IN NEW YORK CITY SPECIAL POINTS OF INTEREST:
Homelessness in NYC A Look Back at TIL & HDFCs PA’LANTE Gets New Digs FOCUS 2012 2012 Demystifying Housing 2012 SYEP PA’LANTE’s First Annual Fall Gala
I love watching children going to school in the morning: the tiny ones off to day care, some racing their parents, others having to be carried or pulled along, the “big” kids headed to elementary school, the ‘tweens’ and the teens to middle and high school. Did you ever ask yourself, “How many don’t have a place to come home to?” There are currently 48,000 people in the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter system. About 20,000 are children - the largest number of children in the system since
the Great Depression. [This is] an increase of a third since July 2011. An additional 47,000 children are living in unstable conditions (doubled-up, tripled up, or on the street). Today, about 67,000 children in New York City are homeless and attending school. [Do] you remember when you were in school: getting up in the morning, rushing through breakfast, walking to school or running for the bus? [Maybe you went to] an after-school program or home to do your homework. Then
there was dinner, maybe a little TV or a bedtime story and off to bed to start again the next day. Homeless children do not have these luxuries. Most [homeless] children have to wake up at three or four in the morning to travel back to their former neighborhood to go to school (DHS does not send them to [school in the neighborhood] where their shelter is located). After school, when ‘tweens’ and teens come back to their shelter they have to wait outside for a parent before they can Continued on Page 4
P A ’ L A N T E H A R L E M
423 West 127 Street
A LOOK BACK AT THE TIL PROGRAM & LOW INCOME HDFCs
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212 491 2541 Fax: 212 491 2542 email@example.com
In the late 1960’s and 1970’s, New York City confronted a widespread crisis in its housing stock. Negligent landlords owned thousands of decaying apartment buildings across Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and Upper
Manhattan. Many collected what rent they could, while deferring maintenance and leaving property taxes and utility bills unpaid. The City could foreclose on buildings with delinquent property taxes, but sell-
ing the properties to new landlords without any rehabilitation merely ensured that the buildings continued to deteriorate and never returned to the tax rolls. Continued on Page 5
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FOCUS 2012! TENANT EMPOWERMENT MEETS THE ARTS
Curtis Archer’s HCDC President with FOCUS 2012 Honorees: Antone Pagan and Scott Metzner and PA’LANTE’s Founder, Elsia Vasquez
FOCUS 2012 Honorees The Renaissance Man of Housing
Tim Collins Collins, Dobkin & Miller
The Robin Hood for Non Profits
Scott Metzner Janus Partners
P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. ’s Silent Warrior
Antone Pagan SILENT WARRIOR Productions The New FAMILY Theater
Tim Collins, Elsia Vasquez, Antone Pagan and Rick Reid in front of “PA’LANTE Wings of Justice”
PA’LANTE Harlem had an open house party for its new office and honored three key individuals who have made great contributions to our community and to the growth of the organization. Over 200 residents and community allies toasted to PA’LANTE’s evolution which began as a tenant association in 2006. Guests enjoyed art, live music, poetry and theatrical performance. Lyric poem, “The Latin Night at the Pawn Shop”, writ-‐ ten by poet and former tenant attorney, Martin Espada was presented by Miguel Piñero’s Po-‐ etry Players. Our friend
EL CONCILIO GUATUMACUA A BORIKEN.
and artist, Myztico, unveiled “PA’LANTE Wings of Justice”, a painting derived from a concept by actor, Antone Pagan. The event had the continued unwavering support of local elected officials including: New York State Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, New York City Council Member Robert Jackson, State Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson, Manhattan District Community Board 9 Chair Rev. Georgette Morgan-Thomas and CB9 District Manager Eutha Prince. The event was attended by community leaders, local not-for-profits, activists and tenant leaders including Kend-
NYS Assembly Member Keith L.T. Wright
all Jackman from Picture the Homeless, Raybblin Vargas from SEU 1199, Carmen Piñero of Community Voices Heard, Eduardo Constanza of 900 Riverside Drive Tenants Association, the PA’LANTE grassroots tenants and the tenant leaders of 1131-1133 Highbridge House in the Bronx. “’l will be there because I know that Elsia and many other people that are here at this event share the same faith— your faith is wrapped up with my faith” remarked Tim Collins, event honoree of Collins, Dobkin & Miller. Mr. Pagan’s team of performers included Enrique Cruz, A.J., Rick “The MusicMan” Rivera, Jacqueline Ramos, and Rick Reid brought Times Square to Harlem. The five hour celebration closed with a blessing from EL CONCILIO GUATUMACU A BORIKEN.
Piñero Players: Rick Reid, Jacqueline Ramos, A-Jay, Rick “MusicMan” Rivera, and Julian Rosado
DEMYSTIFYING HOUSING 2012! PA’LANTE hosted its annual Demystifying Housing Roundtable on Wednesday, July 18 to address the recent program changes to NYC’s Housing Preservation & Development’s Tenant Interim Lease Program (TIL) and to help low income Housing Development Fund Corporations (HDFC) shareholders. During the event, delivered in collaboration with New York City Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), NYS Assembly member Keith Wright, NYC Council Member Robert Jackson and representatives from the offices of other local elected offi-
cials, with ARC Property Management’s Alex Cruz, participants engaged in discussions of burning issues that affect the affordable housing landscape in Northern Manhattan. After the session, PA’LANTE followed up with all 200+ participants and offered them free legal services which were provided pro bono by Cotto Law Offices. We have assisted over 20 different TIL and HDFC buildings and the tenants received sound legal advice.
TIL Program Changes:
Individual sale of apartments will increase to $2,500 (from $250) New shareholders will receive yearly maintenance increases (2% minimum) The buildings are being transferred to private companies and not-forprofit organizations. Local non-profits will be responsible for securing private loans and rehabilitating the properties
Geraldine Smalls, PA’LANTE Harlem Volunteer and HDFC Shareholder at Demystifying Housing during the roundtable discussion with subject matter experts/ senior management representatives from HPD and Northern Manhattan local elected officials.
New York City Councilmember Robert Jackson at Demystifying Housing Roundtable—July 18, 2012
Revenue of the sale of vacant apartments will go towards repayment of the mortgage. Remainder will be placed in a reserve account NYS Assembly Member Keith Wright at Demystifying Housing Roundtable—July 18, 2012
L E T ’ S G E T A S U M M E R J O B In partnership with DYCD, PA’LANTE deliv-‐ ered a Let’s Get a Sum-‐ mer Job Lunch & Learn program to assist local youth in securing a summer job last year. Over 200 hundred teens attended the session and connected with DYCD representative, Wendy Garcia, Kofi Boateng, Executive Director of the West Harlem Local Development Corporation, PA’LANTE Harlem volunteer, Rosa Williams and Harlem-
born attorney, Jose Cotto, Esq.
ence”said Shaniqua LaVaughn, 19.
PA’LANTE ‘s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) directly provided 15 internships to the local summer youth program this past summer. Here is what some of the youth had to say:
"I like working here because I've gained a lot of work experience and got to meet a lot of important people." - Lillian Carter, 19 “PA’LAN TE has been more than a job these past few months. It’s also family.”- Denilde Pena, 19
“While working here the youth feel a sense of empowerment and purpose. PA’LANTE has provided us with an excellent work experi-
PA’LANTE Harlem’s 2012 SYEP Interns: Mecca, Jeffrey, Bryan, Devone, Lorianni, Dariana, Lillian, Denilde and Michael
Kofi Boateng, Elsia Vasquez, Jose Cotto, Antone Pagan and Rosa Williams at Let’s Get a Summer Job Lunch & Learn
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HOMELESSNESS IN NEW YORK CITY enter. Children … need a stable, loving environment so they, too, can have a normal childhood and school experience and a chance at a productive life and future.
Kendall Jackman at PA’LANTE ‘s FOCUS 2012 event
“I am a former postal employee worth $3,533 to a nonprofit
Among the 28,000 adults in the system, there are the working poor including: home health aides, security guards, retail workers, and those in the restaurant industry. They also include City employees who can’t afford to live in the city that they work for. And there are those on disability, pensions, SSI, SSD and Social Security. Female veterans with and without children are [among] the fastest growing population[s]. Do you think it is right for the woman who cares for your mother, father, or child, to come “home” to a shelter with inadequate food, an uncaring staff and a room with as many as 11 other women sharing the same bathroom? Maybe it’s the social worker handling your case, the salesperson who sold you the clothes you’re wearing, the se-‐ curity guard you say good morning and good evening to at work or even a returning veteran who served and de-
fended your country. DHS is on track to spend $1 billion dollars this year (up from $857 million last year) on a broken system designed to keep people like me homeless. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD) budget is 40% of DHS’s. I am a former postal employee worth $3,533 to a non-profit provider. Before my landlady went into foreclosure, my rent for a onebedroom garden apartment in BedfordStuyvesant was $950. The total cost ($3,916, including my storage) to keep me warehoused in the system pays my rent four times each month, every three months for a year. There is not enough truly affordable housing, senior housing or assisted living housing. Mayor Bloomberg promised to end homelessness and to build affordable housing. But homelessness has skyrocketed, with the number of homeless families rising 81% since Bloomberg took office. Affordable housing is for the rich. The middle class has disappeared. This administration has
no plan to end homelessness, just to perpetuate it. The communities on the fast track to gentrification—BedfordStuyvesant, Harlem and the South Bronx, are the communities pipelining the most people into DHS and prison. We at Picture The Homeless support pending legislation in the City Council titled “Annual Census of Vacant Buildings and Lots” that would change the city charter and mandate an annual census and create a repository of all vacant property in the City, both private and government owned. But Council Speaker Christine Quinn was quoted in the New York Daily News (9/30 /11) saying it would cost “millions of dollars” to implement “Intro 48,” the legisla-‐ tion’s number in Council. So we partnered with Hunter College to conduct a count in the top 20 community boards with the highest density per square mile of vacant property and found enough vacant space in Continued on Page 10
A LOOK BACK AT THE TIL PROGRAM & LOW INCOME HDFCs Stabilizing and maintaining this housing stock required more drastic intervention. Local Law 45, passed in 1976, allowed the City to foreclose on a property with just one year of delinquent taxes using a legal procedure called an Action in rem. The goal was to arrest the cycle of disinvestment by allowing more rapid transfer from private hands to City ownership. By 1979 the City owned about 40,000 occupied and 60,000 vacant apartments; the City had no interest in playing the role of landlord permanently. Its aim was to rehabilitate these buildings and return them to some form of private ownership, placing them back on the tax rolls. One of many programs developed to dispose of this City-owned in rem housing was the TIL Program (Tenant Interim Lease) administered by HPD. This program allows occupants of City-owned buildings to purchase their units from the City by forming a low-income housing cooperative in the form of a Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC). Inclusion in the TIL pro-
gram began with an in rem foreclosure proceeding by the City against a building with a tax delinquency. Once the City owned the building, its residents had to sign a resolution seeking ownership and agreeing to raise their rents to meet expenses. If the resolution was accepted by HPD, a tenant association was formed to whom rents were to be paid. This association managed the building during the interim period while receiving training in building management from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB). During this period, HPD would undertake renovations to the building and subsequently sell the apartments to the tenant for $250. While it sounds like it was a great opportunity for the tenants who had suffered at the hands of negligent landlords, from the beginning, the program has presented great threats and weaknesses in both its structure and its implementation. Building management problems continue to plague many TIL buildings, both during the interim period and after
sale to the tenants. Today, many of these apartment buildings are being transferred to private ownership (landlords) or not-forprofit organizations. We are losing a great number of our affordable housing stock; hundreds of units are still waiting to be rehabilitated while many of the HDFC’s are losing own-‐ ership status and thus returning to rental apartments that are unaffordable. Today, there are approximately 170 TIL buildings remaining in the program but this will soon change. The TIL program has recently been restructured. Program changes can be found on page 3 of this Newsletter.
PROGRAM WEAKNESSES Before HDFC: Rents are often too low to generate significant income for building maintenance. Tenant associations, on entering TIL, had to raise rents to at least $55 per room but rents often did not increase further after this initial hike Lack of Training Low-quality/ insufficient renovations Lack of reserve funds Unavailability of lowcost loans Bureaucracy After HDFC: Lack of gradual increases of maintenance fees Lack of shareholder engagement/interest. Lack of unity in the building No oversight by a regulatory agency (buildings sold before 2003) Lack of shareholder education
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P A ’ L A N T E H A R L E M ’ S F I R S T A N N U A L F A L L G A L A There was toxic lead paint on their walls. Drug dealers brazenly transacted business in their hallways. Many complained but nothing changed.
PA’LANTE 2012 Gala Honorees Good Citizenship Edgar Vera
Leader of the Year Hon. Keith L.T. Wright
From left: Adam Clayton Powell, IV, NY Homes Commissioner Darryll Towns, PA’LANTE’s Founder Elsia Vasquez, Council Member Inez Dickens, Assembly- man and Gala Honoree Keith Wright, and U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel
Outstanding Service Hon. Robert Jackson
“We move forward when we endeavor together.”
PA’LANTE Harlem held its first annual Gala on Wednesday, October 10th at Tian at the Riverbank. The event was filled with VIPs, community leaders and dignitaries and allies. We are grateful to our many members and neighbors who attended. We are especially grateful to our Event Benefactor, Harlem Community Development Corporation as well as L&M Development Partners and Columbia University who sponsored the Gala as Friends. Our appreciation also goes out to Zenaida Mendez for a pitch-perfect job of hosting the event. Our Honorees, Assemblyman Keith Wright, Council Member Robert Jackson and PA’LANTE’s, Edgar Vera exemplify the dedication to service that we try to duplicate.
Congressman Charles Rangel and Council member Inez Dickens jointly proclaimed October 10th, 2012 PA’LANTE Harlem Day and New York City Comptroller John Liu presented PA’LANTE with a commendation for service to the community. In response to this outpouring of appreciation, we rededicate ourselves to serving the community we call home. The seeds of PA’LANTE Harlem were planted in 2006 when a group of tenants, whose apartments were suffering the effects of malevolent, long-term neglect by their landlord discovered that their impact was greatest when they worked together to help one another. Their homes had been invaded by rodents, bugs and mold. There were cascading leaks.
The exploitation continued. But when they shifted their focus from self-interest to service they unearthed an unlimited power. By working together to help one another - they could enact change. Though they were sometimes deterred and often detoured they remained determined. Today, those apartments have been renovated and are safe and secure homes. A community blossomed and from those roots the PA’LANTE community grew and continues to grow. This is what happens when one neighbor helps another. We encourage everyone to become involved. When we know our rights, we are not prey to exploitation by unscrupulous landlords. When we share our knowledge, our neighbor does not fall victim to abuses of power by lumbering bureaucracies. Quiescence is not an option. An engaged community is an empowered community. We move forward when we endeavor together.
T H E T E N A N T S O F P A ’ L A N T E H A R L E M T O T H E ATTORNEYS OF GRIMBLE & LOGUIDICE: NUTS! As a follow up to the cover story in our last newsletter, the grassroots tenants of PA’LANTE Harlem fired their attorneys, Grimble & LoGuidice (G&L) due to their failure to properly represent their clients’ inter-‐ ests in housing court. Months later, another tenant group discharged them as well. It turns out that the attorneys attempted to negotiate certain settlement terms for both their 2006 Housing Court and State Supreme Court cases without their clients’ knowl-‐ edge! Attempts to bully us into signing an inadequate settlement agreement were relentless. Our backs were up against the wall and we were being prodded to surrender. During that time, at the referral of Ken Rosenfeld from Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, we met a wonderful tenant attorney, Tim Collins of Collins, Dobkin & Miller. We quickly retained him to help the tenants discharge G&L as their attorneys given that we tried twice in Housing Court but it appeared that they did not want to be discharged. Upon interviewing the tenants one late evening, Mr. Collins was appalled by what was occurring. He refused to accept any monies from the tenants or from
PA’LANTE and insisted that he would only represent the tenants and PA’LANTE pro bono! The next day, Mr. Collins appeared in Housing Court on our behalf. We were successful at discharging them in Housing Court and also forcing G&L to continue their representation in State Supreme Court until we could review and change the documents that they drafted behind our backs. Our decision to keep them as attorneys in Supreme Court was not easy. It was also not a coincidence. G&L refused to hand over court documents and threatened to quit in the State Supreme Court if we did not settle our case. We never expected tenant attorneys to draft settlement agreements without their clients’ knowledge and we clearly did not expect the level of bullying and harassment from these attorneys. Our friends know that the plight of the PA’LANTE grassroots families led to the founding of PA’LANTE in 2009 and also know that we don’t simply take “No” for an answer. As the bullying continued, one of their attorneys sent us an email demanding that we provide them with a one word answer regarding the settlement. If we did not
settle, they would quit and hold the Supreme Court documents hostage. We did not have a “one word” response to G&L’s demand so we consulted with Mr. Collins as to how best reply. Our now dear friend is not only an expert and ethical attorney but an astute historian, as well. He advised we quote acting Division Commander General Anthony McAuliffe’s response when the Germans demanded his surrender during the Battle of the Bulge...so we did. “NUTS!” was our intransigent reply. In other words, “Go to Hell!” We eventually settled but we did so on our own terms and with Mr. Collins help. The tenants at 225 W 146 Street and 235 W 146 Street can rest assured that they are protected.
T he PA’ LAN T E Grassro ots T enant s Pr es ent PA’ LAN T E Harlem’ s Re n a issa n c e M a n of H ousin g Awa r d to T im Col l i ns, E sq. a t th e F OCUS 2 0 12 – T enant E mp owerm ent Me ets the A rts, F eb. 2 4 , 2 0 12
“NUTS!” was our reply. In other words, “Go to Hell”
PA’LANTE which means “move forward” ensured, with Mr. Collins help that the families that were still waiting to get repairs received them and that other families that were not part of the litigation would receive repairs. In fact, everyone returned to their newly renovated apartments before the ink on the agreements was dry! For all history buffs , we invite you to go to NUTS REVISITED on the web! (An Interview with Lt. General Harry W. O. Kinnard)
General Anthony McAuliffe taken on December 27, 1944 ___________________
www.thedropzone. org/europe/bulge/ kinnard.html
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CALLING MY APARTMENT HOME!
“I am at the mercy of landlords, ignorant of my privileges and rights”
The Bible suggests, “a child is expected to act (speak) as a child”. Simi-‐ larly, “an adult is ex-‐ pected to act (speak) accordingly”. In this soci-‐ ety, under normal situations, a child’s need for shelter is provided for her/him by (an) adult( s). However, this norm does not follow that a child must provide shelter for an adult. I am responsible for securing my own housing, among other basic needs. How many adults have wished they were still “kids” with guardians/ parents caring for them? I, for one, begrudge those “halcyon indiffer-‐ ences” which came from having others provide for me. However, as an adult senior, I have no illusions that such paternity will be forthcoming.
PA’LANTE Harlem member Edsely Harding and Maria Luna with Sandra Harris, Elsia Vasquez and Juana Luna at PA’LANTE’s First Annual Gala, Oct. 10, 2012
It has been years since I became responsible for providing a basic need such as housing for myself. If you are an immigrant coming out of a Caribbean/Tropical climate/region like me, or even from a non-tropical area, you will not only accept your responsibility to pay your rent, making every effort to do so, but you will also expect such services that offer a modicum of comfort and “humane living”. Here, I stress “humane
living” since very often, over the years of living abroad, it’s been the attitude of those renting apartments to “foreigners” like me, that, “You are not ‘civilized’, so that you will be satisfied with living under whatever condition, such as a freezing apartment.” In other words, the concept “humane living” does not translate to me. I am at the mercy of landlords, ignorant of my privileges and rights. One colloquial proverb preached to me in my home and village in Jamaica, West Indies, was “where ignorance is bliss, it’s folly to be wise”. Drummed incessantly into my ears, it became a ‘mantra’ for not speak-‐ ing up. Instead, I daily suffered every imaginable insult lobbed by the landlord towards me. After suffering for years, this hometown maxim of ‘where ignorance is bliss, it is …’ became ‘folly’ for not speaking up. Repeatedly, complaining to city and state agencies of the lack of services in my apartment, I became frustrated since their help was compromising.
I was at my wits’ end in the Fall of 2011 when I stumbled into an office complex intersecting West 126th and 127th streets close to Amsterdam Avenue. Entering the building, I was unsure whether I was wasting my time. When the receptionist asked me, “What can I do for you?” I growled to her, “I am freezing in my apartment, I saw your office and decided to check what’s it about. I need help. I have to take off from work to get help.” The receptionist gave me a form to fill out. I said to myself, “Maybe I walked into the right place; why is she having me complete this form?” After completing the form, I was invited into the office and introduced to the Founder, Ms. Elsia Vasquez. Ms. Vasquez, upon reading the finished form, explained to me that before she can help I had to produce leases going back several years, and also cancelled rent checks. I told her that these papers were at home and I can produce them whenever. Continued on Page 11
P A ’ L A N T E G E T S N E W D I G S T H A N K S T O A LANDLORD! On the morning of September 9, 2011 PA’LANTE moved its offices to a commercial location in Harlem. The move was anticipated; what was not expected was the love that our organization received— especially from three very wonderful people in particular—who pitched in to help our organization grow and for them we are extremely grateful. Three weeks prior we had contacted our great supporter, Scott Metzner from Janus Partners and asked him for help. Our request was for office space...which we had no way to pay for. He kindly agreed to help. In fact, Scott Metzner is the reason we are able to assist our residents from within the community. He provided us the space as an in-kind donation. The day before the move we contacted David Rodriguez from United Hispanic Construction Workers (UHCW) and asked him for help. Although we had agreed to move the day of the 9th, it looked like it would be nearly impossible given that our volunteers base arrives in the evening hours due to their work schedules. UHCW delivered more than 30 of their members (men and women) to help with the move. They even
rented a U-Haul moving truck for us. But what’s even more amazing is how we managed to get the keys to the office prior to having our UHCW brothers and sisters there. On that very same morning, our friend George Mack— who just happened to be in the neighborhood— telephoned the office to check in on us. He came right over, delivered our signed agreement to Scott Metzner, then brought us the key to our new office space. By the time that UHCW members arrived with the truck, everything was ready to go and our belongings quickly filled the truck.
We are profoundly grateful to David Rodriguez and UHCW. They have been there for us on many occasions and we share a passion for each others mission. Now getting back to our friend George Mack whom we adore. He helps everybody that can use his help. When he encounters an opportunity that he believes we can utilize, George’s call is the first call our office will receive that morning. In fact, most of the furniture at PA’LANTE has been donated to us because of the referrals of our friend, George Mack. After we moved to our new offices, we receive another donation– the conference table!
What a warm story about the wonderful generosity of others! Scott Metzner and Janus Partners opened their doors to PA’LANTE and gave us the keys to brand new office space which continues to be provided to us as an in-kind donation.
Not often does one see a group of construction workers, a Harlem landlord and a volunteer from another borough step up and help the way these three gentlemen have helped PA’LANTE Har-‐ lem.
This priceless gift provides our community residents with a place they can turn to for help. It is also a worksite location to train local adults who are enrolled in the HRA’s Work Experience Program as well as DYCD 2012 Summer Youth Internship Program.
“On behalf of all of our members and supporters, we tip our hats to Scott Metzner/Janus Partners, to David Rodriguez and to George Mack. Thank you for being there for us and the community that we represent” proclaimed Elsia Vasquez, Founder of PA’LANTE.
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CONT’D—HOMELESSNESS IN NEW YORK CITY
“...we can give those 67,000 children a home…”
a third of the city to potentially house nearly 200,000 people. The complete report, Banking on Vacancy: Homelessness and Real Estate Speculation is available on our website picturethehomeless.org A video of our release with more details about the process can also be found on the website. In every community board across the city, we found as much as 10 times more vacant space for housing than shelter units. We are continuing our research into community land trusts (CLTs) and mutual
housing associations (MHAs)as ways to bring truly affordable housing to New York City residents. Cooper Square on the Lower East Side has successfully used these models for 21 years after a 30-year organizational fight and has saved affordable housing in their community. Community Board 11 has recently released a housing report supporting the use of CLTs as a way to save housing in their community.
working poor, our veterans, our elders and bring the street population back indoors. With partners like PA’LANTE Harlem, imagine what we can do when the other twothirds of the City is counted! Kendall Jackman, Member, Housing Campaign Leader – picturethehomeless.org
In just a third of the City, we can give those 67,000 children a home, give dignity back to the
Total of # of People Vacant Bldgs. that Can be & Lots Housed*
Avg. Cost for Current # Providing Shelter of Shelter to 1 Homeless Units Per Month
Total Est. Cost of Providing Shelter to Homeless Per Month
*at 350 sq.ft./person- 75-100 sq.ft greater than the Bloomberg model ** 5% of Vacant Property Gov’t Owned *** 15% of Vacant Property Gov’t Owned
CONT’D—CALLING MY APARTMENT HOME! With the help of DHCR, Ms. Vasquez was able to conclude that the landlord owed me thousands of dollars.
We made an appointment to get together. Ms Vasquez further asked me for the management’s contact num-‐ ber. Giving the number to her, she immediately called and reminded them that it was after October 15th, it was cold outside, and the law required heat to be provided. When I got home, the heat was on. Keeping my appointment with Ms. Vasquez at PA’LANTE Harlem, she went through the leases, the cancelled rent checks and sent complaint letters to DHCR. She timely researched each item. She then called DHCR and asked about the complaints made and their resolutions. DHCR informed her that the complaints were still outstanding.
Putting the DHCR complaint package together for me, all I had to do was to walk it over to the local office at the 125th Street. There, the customer service representative stamped each set of documents, kept the original, returned the copies for PA’LANTE’s file, and gave me one set for my records. Today, with that fortuitous entrance into the building housing PA’LANTE Harlem, I learnt that there are advocacy agencies where one could go for relief from exploitive landlords. But more importantly, through the prosecutorial crusade of Ms. Vasquez, I stand to get back, and am getting back heaps of ‘dead presidents’, such as hav-‐ ing my rent drastically reduced. The landlord still tries to renege on his responsibilities, but with PA’LANTE Harlem watching my back, I am
more secure with speaking up for my entitlements. To a senior like me “THIS IS HUGE!” Lastly, to my grandmother, nanny, and village seers who preached the proverb, “Where ignorance is bliss, it’s folly to be wise,” I am grateful for your wisdom.
OVER 4,500 VOLUNTEER HOURS PROVIDED
However, none of you had to endure the indignities of basic living with which your grandson had to tolerate. Had I remained ‘blissful’ in my suffering, I would have frozen to death; the landlord would have had a license to rent the apartment for a higher rate and I would have died prematurely. THAT’S CAPITALISM FOR YOU! Edsely Harding, PA’LANTE Member
OVER 400 TENANT WORKSHOPS DELIVERED
P A ’ L A N T E H A R L E M
10 THINGS THAT A TENANT SHOULD
423 West 127 Street New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212 491 2541
Fax: 212 491 2542 firstname.lastname@example.org
PA’ LAN T E Harl em’ s 2 0 12 S u mmer You th Intern s f rom S YE P, AS A Col l eg e, Ye s 2 0 12 and v ol u nte ers.
5. We’re on Facebook! www.facebook.com/ palanteharlem
NEVER pay your rent in cash. DO NOT accept a buyout offer (to leave your apartment) unless you are sure that the money you’re re-‐ ceiving from your landlord is worth at least 2 years of rent in the new apartment you ALREADY found. Never refuse to sign a lease. Just make sure the rent increase percentage is correct and seek advice from a local non - profit organization in your immediate neighborhood. We can help you too. DO NOT sign any documents or letters. When you have an application/ complaint, submit it with HCR ( Homes & Community Renewal ). During a heated argument, do not ever surrender the keys to your apartment to the super, to the landlord or to his/her employees and the NYPD. Never deny access to your apartment if access is requested
in writing. Landlord should let you know about it 48 hours in advance. 7. When in court, do not sign a stipulation to appease the landlord’s lawyer. The lawyer is not your friend. If you owe rent and do not have the money in your personal bank account, make sure you give yourself enough time. Ask the court clerk for a 30-day adjournment to get an attorney to represent you. Within 30-days you will be able to apply for the one-shot deals (loans). One shot deals are usually granted after 45 days. 8. Do not move to a temporary apartment in order for the landlord to make repairs without a relocation agreement that insures (1) you will be able to return to your apartment after its renovated; and (2) you will be paying the same rent. If you agree to relocate without this notarized document, you will not be able to return to
your apartment. 9. Seniors: Do not enroll in SCRIE to freeze your rent if you’re planning for your son/daughter or grandkids to remain in your apartment after you are gone. The cost for them to remain in the apartment far surpasses the amount of money you will save. If they want the benefits of a rent stabilized apartment, they should make an investment by helping you pay the rent. 10. Do not believe your landlord when he tells you to “trust” him. You are not an exception. Remember that Real Estate is a business and your landlord is in it to make money. Get all promises in writing and clearly BEFORE you sign any documents.