Thursday, August 14, 2008

DHCR hearings on demolition eviction

August is a busy time for government hearings. It's that small window of opportunity for government to escape notice while everyone is on vacation. (That hearings are even allowed during August is a disgrace in a democracy.)

Tuesday's DHCR hearing was something of a diversion.

DHCR currently allows landlords to demolish buildings solely for the purpose of evicting rent stabilized tenants and rebuilding minus rent stabilized tenants. It's just another way to skirt rent protections, along with owner-occupancy according to which a landlord can evict you from your home for his personal use of it (reminiscent of feudal driot de seigneur, which also included taking your wife and daughters -- if they were worth money, that would be next on the agenda) and luxury decontrol. By allowing landlords to compensate evicted tenants for a limited number of years, rather than requiring landlords to return the tenants to the rebuilt building with their previous rents, DHCR is encouraging landlords to evict and demolish and eliminate affordable housing.

Demolitions should be allowed only if the tenants are endangered by a structurally unsound building, not to endanger tenants merely for the landlord's profit.

Yet the hearing didn't address the question of whether demolitions should be allowed in structurally sound, inhabited buildings. Instead, the hearing concerned whether the whole building must be razed completely to the ground or only partly to the ground to allow for such evictions and how much or how little the evicted should be compensated for their loss of home. Sort of like asking whether murderers should be required to clean up their victims' bloody corpses or may they leave them lying around the house or in the street. Surely these are the wrong questions. They assume too much. This is a world stood upside down.

The best testimonies -- perhaps the best given by Monte Shapiro -- emphasized that demolition should only be allowed if the building is structurally unsound, that tenants should be relocated in comparable space in the neighborhood at comparable rents and, after the structure is rebuilt, offered comparable space at comparable rent in the rebuilt structure. That would deter landlords from demolishing solely for the purpose of building a new structure, as several people put it, "in no significant way different from the original structure except without the rent stabilized tenants."

The demonstration prior to the hearing was attended by a crowd unusually large for the steps of City Hall. Our Councilmember Rosie Mendez spoke first and coordinated the speakers who included Martin Connor, Gale Brewer and Dick Gottfried, a few others; Deborah Glick's office helped organize the demonstration. Councilmember Tony Avella appeared but had to leave early for a Council hearing. Paul Newell, who is challenging Sheldon Silver in the democratic primary, attended as well. Silver didn't show.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob, well this is the situation as i see it or the reality in due respect to all opinion.My parents have been on both sides of the spectrum and the whole situation is not well interpreted by the media ,papers, and other forms of communication to the general public.It's all one-sided and it's the truth.Most cases of lanlord abuse is alive and well but not all landlord's are crooks like the general public believes it to be.It's like saying that all tenant's are perfect and this is an exageration by far.The housing situation needs to be reformed and examined closely for flaws, the many flaws that are hurting both lanlord as well as tenant.Where is the balance? The fairness? Moreover where is the justice in the system for both halfs? I'm talking about democracy on this subject? How can a landlord maintain a building when tenants are paying $300 rent? How can a tenant pay increase in rent if landlord does not render proper services in an adequate manner? It goes deep but first we have to change are abusive ways in both landlord and tenant practices then after that we need to restructure the entire housing system including
DHCR because it is inept in the way it handles cases creating many errors time after time thus creating unnecessary headaches and confusion to say the least.I see that the more government tries to evade certain topics like DHCR the more the system is set out to allow corruption to flourish within the system, abuse on both parts and a system set for failure because workers don't really care for either counterpart, their concern is 8 hours for the day and nothing more.Read this closely then state your position, don't follow the general public because ignorance is universal and does not discriminate to a group,color,
race, or if your a landlord or tenant.
Steven from Ridgewood,Queens, NY