Thursday, July 17, 2008

Changes to housing regulations

On August 12, 10am-4pm, at Spector Hall, 22 Reade Street, the Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the NY State agency that oversees housing regulation, will hold a hearing on several proposed changes to housing regulations. Of most concern to tenants, DHCR intends to

1. allow landlords to evict tenants merely to gut and renovate a building, a procedure known as "phony demolition"
2. base the stipend given to such evicted tenants on stabilized rents levels rather than on market-rate rent levels

Holding the hearing in the dead of August ensures that publicity, discussion and resistance will be muted. Please consider writing to DHCR and attending the hearing.

Here's a version of a sample letter sent around for public use by Village Independent Democrats.
DHCR's proposal can be found on page 28 of the pdf at this link

Juy 10,2008
Deborah VanAmerongen
25 Beaver Street
New York, New York 10004

Dear Commissioner,

I strongly object to the unfairness of the new formula you are
proposing for people forced out of their homes because of demolition. It
should be based on the difference between a comparable market rate
apartment in the same neighborhood and what the tenant is now paying
This was the recommendation of the Working Group of elected officials and
housing groups that your office met with over the past year. They urged
the stipend be given for ten years (120 months). Why have you not
listened to them? To base the stipend on the average rent stabilized
amount is totally unrealistic. Rent stabilized apartments are not
available for people to rent. They have to go to a market rate apartment
if forced to move. Rent stabilized apartments are being
demolished to put up more luxury condos.

I also object to the proposed code change that would make phony
demolitions legal. It is not right to define gutting the interior of a
building as "demolition." The law's original definition intended "razing a
building to the ground." Your proposed code change only helps developers
destroy more affordable housing. It takes away the last grounds on which
tenants could make a legal challenge to the loss of their home. I want
you to start protecting tenants by enacting code changes that slow down
the frenzy of demolition. I want you to preserve affordable housing.

The hearing should not be held in August when most people are
away on vacation. It should be held in September.


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