Borough President Brewer: Tenants Must Organize
BY YANNIC RACK | Instead of relying on the city to take care of predatory landlords, tenants in Chelsea must join together to fight back, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said last week.
When at risk of being pushed out of their apartments, residents’ best hope is to form tenant groups and seek their own legal assistance, according to Brewer.
“My experience for many years has been, when you have a building you can organize, you have a chance. But as individuals in different buildings, you get the short end of the stick,” she said.
Brewer made the comments during a Dec. 11 interview at the Brooklyn offices of Chelsea Now and our sister publications, where she also spoke about NYCHA’s NextGen plan and the need for more businesspeople to join Manhattan’s community boards.
A landlord trying to move longtime tenants out of apartments, often rent-stabilized, is not a new occurrence. Throughout 2015, Chelsea Now has documented the tactic of landlords who falsify information on Department of Buildings (DOB) applications, in order to conduct illegal construction work. Tenants whose lives are made unbearable vacate their apartments, which can then be turned into illegal hotels or become market rate units.
Rather than wait for help from DOB — which rarely detects false applications from landlords, and whose inspectors are often left toothless in the face of building violations — Brewer suggests that existing support networks should be expanded.
“I do think that you need, literally, tenant organizations that have lawyers and organizers in every single neighborhood in Manhattan, in order to stop this,” she said.
“We do have some tenant groups in Chelsea, thank goodness, but you don’t catch all [of the landlords].” For the full article, click here.