Its About Housing Its Not About Real Estate
LIVE BROADCAST! Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 from 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Winston Gilchrist, host and moderator of the public access cable news show, The Gilchrist Experience, has invited CU4ML to speak out about Mitchell-Lama co-ops and how shareholders are organizing to stay in the M-L program.
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Mitchell-calmer: Clinton Hill co-op residents vote against privatization
February 24, 2017 / Brooklyn news / Clinton Hill
The results are in — and “in” is the result!
Residents of a Clinton Hill Mitchell-Lama co-op on Thursday voted against the chance to sell their apartments for hundreds of thousands of dollars by leaving the below-market-rate housing program, opting instead to keep their digs cheap for future generations, according to local officials.
Cumbo Rallies Against Privatization to Preserve Affordability
Posted February 23, 2017
City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) yesterday joined shareholders and elected officials in rallying against the potential privatization of the St. James Place Towers, 21 Saint James Place, a 326-residential unit complex, which was developed under the state Mitchell-Lama program.
Named for former State Sen. MacNeil Mitchell and former Assemblyman Alfred Lama, the program created in 1955 to provide affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate- and middle-income families. Currently, there are 95 City-supervised Mitchell-Lamas. However, a total of 62 Mitchell-Lama developments or 19,622 cooperative and rental units have withdrawn from the program since the first buyout in 1989.
Landlords Are Sitting on Empty Apartments in Affordable Buildings: Official
By Carolina Pichardo | October 21, 2016 8:27am
INWOOD — Empty apartments inside poorly maintained apartment buildings are challenging New Yorkers' chances of finding affordable housing at a time when they need it most, according to local elected officials.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, joined by state Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Assembly candidate Carmen De La Rosa as well as the organization Picture the Homeless, held a rally Tuesday to highlight how the abundance of empty lots and vacant apartments are threatening existing tenants and preventing those who need apartments from finding a place to live.
The rally targeted 78 Thayer St. — which they say has kept nearly half of its 65 apartment units empty.
They claimed the owners, listed on Department of Buildings records as the 78-86 Thayer Street Corporation, have been warehousing dozens of empty units as it prepares to flip the property into a co-op building.
"This a matter of safety issue. This is a matter of health issues. This is a matter about protecting our working class and our middle class," Rodriguez said, adding that owners have been pressuring remaining tenants to move out.
Representatives for 78-86 Thayer Street Corporation didn’t reply to a request for comment.
Rodriguez is currently sponsoring a package of bills with Public Advocate Letitia James and Councilman Jumaane Williams — known as the "Housing Not Warehousing Act" — intended to keep track of empty units and hold landlords accountable to register these empty lots.
The first bill, Rodriguez said in a statement, will mandate an annual count of all the vacant land and properties in the city, while the second, introduced by James, will mandate owners to register their properties as vacant or face fines. The third bill, introduced by Williams, will then keep a list of the vacancies and determine which is suitable as "prospective land for affordable housing development."
Residents said trouble at 78 Thayer St., however, goes beyond the empty units and began more than a decade ago, when some tenants moved out and the repairs throughout the building dwindled.
John Feliciano, who has been living in a 78-86 Thayer St. apartment for 16 years, said he’s taken his landlord to court in the past, but the problems continue — including a recent rent jump from $800 to $1,450.
“They told me they want the apartment, regardless,” he said, adding that he can't endure it anymore.
“I’m going to be leaving, cause I just don’t like the conditions,” Feliciano said. “In the beginning it was good, but it started to fall apart.”
Rodriguez said his office is in talks with HPD on the Thayer building to take over the building and make the 65 units in the apartment building affordable — or keep the landlord accountable with a top-to-bottom inspection, and keep track of the current tenants while investigating why the previous tenants left their homes.
HPD said the owners currently owe $475,000 to the New York City Department of Finance for back taxes, interest or other fees — as well as $12,000 in fees to New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
"If the owner participates in one of HPD’s preservation programs, we would require that they enter into a regulatory agreement that would restrict rents, initial household incomes for new residents, and require rent stabilization, as well as other provisions," said HPD spokeswoman, Juliet Pierre-Antoine, adding that the agency is currently in the "initial stages of conversation with the owner to discuss possible preservation opportunities."
Members of Picture the Homeless said the bills currently before the City Council are long overdue, adding that their team presented a similar bill — Intro 48 — in 2011 after canvassing the city and locating a lot of vacant properties across New York, spokeswoman Arvernetta Henry said.
"City Council was saying there weren’t any vacant properties, and that’s why they had the shelters," Henry said. "But we found landlords and owners that had store commercial businesses at the bottom, and at the top they put curtains and air-conditioned units — but the units were empty."
Report on Meet and Greet Breakfast held by ML Residents Coalition
On April 30, 2016, the Mitchell-Lama Residents Coalition held a Meet and Greet Breakfast. The following summary was prepared by Sue Susman:
Speakers at the MLRC Meet & Greet:
Council Member Rosie Mendez has been named chair of the City Council’s Task Force on Mitchell-Lama for the next 12 months. She will look into issues affecting current and former Mitchell-Lamas, both rental and co-ops, including:
- The difference between Articles II (which governs Mitchell-Lamas) and XI of the Private Housing Finance Law. Article XI works for co-ops, but not for rentals.
- Finding more available capital funding to keep more MLs in the program. (Former Council Member Margarita Lopez found money that is just now trickling in 10 years later.)
- Co-ops in the pathway of Super Storm Sandy are not eligible for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) money, so we need changes on the federal level.
- Downsizing (a consequence of the federal “sequester”), including publicizing how certain grave health conditions can result in an exemption from seniors to having to move to smaller apartments.
Assembly Member Michael Blake is the newly-appointed chair of the Mitchell-Lama Subcommittee of the NYS Assembly’s Housing Committee in Albany. In addition to the legislative program supported by the MLRC, he has proposed a bill to create a more transparent and fair automated system for applying and waiting for Mitchell-Lama units.
He plans to hold ML town halls across NYC, and will deal with specific issues such as management and auditor records. He is working with Assembly Housing Chair (and candidate for the U.S. Congress to replace Charles Rangel) to allocate the $2 billion for housing that Gov. Cuomo included (vaguely) in the budget.
Congressman Jerry Nadler has been involved since the late 1960’s with Mitchell-Lamas, a terrific public/private partnership. MLs were built primarily under state legislation and therefore Washington has not had much to do with them, but should do more. The federal government had actually built low-income housing (NYCHA’s apartments were built with federal money), but Congress has done away with most of that money. The Section 8 program, for example, has lost tens of thousands of vouchers under the Sequester. Being pragmatic, Cong. Nadler and his colleague Nita Lowey are advocating for 10,000 more vouchers nationwide — but the City itself probably needs 1 million.
The Housing Modernization Act would provide more supportive housing (e.g. for those who cannot live entirely independently). That has passed the U.S. House and is now before the Senate. It would address the $26 billion backlog in building improvements. Of course, Cong. Nadler supports a National Housing Trust Fund. This political campaign shows the high level of frustration among low-income people. The US has been recovering from the 2007-2008 great recession in many parts of the economy and adding jobs, but not in the public sector. Government jobs at all levels — the traditional entry to the middle class — are about 2 million fewer now than at the beginning of the recession. The view that government should be smaller has prevailed for now.
Public Advocate Letitia (Tish) James received the MLRC's public service prize. She is concerned with Mitchell-Lamas, public housing, poor doors, and the shared use of amenities, and was proud of her victories in those areas as well as in ensuring that SCRIE and DRIE tenants get more notice before losing their benefits. She pointed out that we need affordable communities (not just housing), including supermarkets and gas stations. She noted, to promote diversity in NYC, we must expand and support Mitchell-Lamas.
Adam Clayton Powell IV, candidate for Cong. Rangel’s seat, said Mitchell-lamas are the best housing alternative for the working- and middle-class in NY. If elected, he wants to change the federal government’s Area Median Income (AMI) formula that determines income levels for types of affordable housing. (He did not go into this, but “median” means if you lined up all the incomes in an area from highest to lowest, the median is the one in the middle. So areas with many more rich people would have higher AMIs than areas with more poor people.
An example is that new affordable housing proposed by Mayor de Blasio would require developers to include a certain percentage of apartments that are affordable to people who make 60% of the AMI.) Right now, even though Putnam and Westchester Counties each have their own AMIs, their incomes (much higher than those in NYC) are considered to determine the New York City AMI. Powell opposes buildings that are 100% luxury apartments.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer noted that we must fight for every single unit of affordable housing in NYC. She is working with James Ruben (head of the NYS Homes & Community Renewal agency) and HPD (the NYC housing agency) to deal with succession rights and other issues in MLs.
NYC Council Member Helen Rosenthal said that right now HPD will not permit Mitchell-Lama co-ops to privatize (to leave the ML program). ML co-op boards will have to sue HPD if they want to leave. She strongly urged ML residents to contact their local Council Members for problems in their buildings.
Lindsay Park Celebrates 50th Anniversary!
Reported by Adele Niederman
Lindsay Park celebrated their 50th Anniversary with a street co-naming ceremony and a block party. It is the largest Mitchell Lama cooperative in Brooklyn with 2701 apartments.
It was a grand time with loud music, franks on the grill, elected officials and a Marching Band. The best part was the appearance, and remarks, made by MacNeil Mitchell and Alfred Lama, son and grandson respectively, of the two politicians that created and advocated our founding legislation. It was so moving to hear of bipartisan work in Albany almost two generations ago. Two professional politicians worked to improve lives of middle income New Yorkers. Mitchell is also known for work on saving Carnegie Hall. They understood the need to protect and preserve public spaces and assets and how to improve the lives of city residents. I was impressed by the perseverance shown by the organizers in tracking down Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Lama, and impressed by the men's willingness to honor their father and grandfather, and the shareholders of Lindsay Park.
City Councilman Antonio Reynoso, also a resident of Lindsay Park, was the MC/Director of the public event. He is wonderful and enthusiastic supporter of ML. Other speakers were Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Assemblywoman Maritza Davila. A shareholder also provided lots of history about the development, and the need to protect MItchell-Lama.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams arrived in time to shake hands and hug the babies. DeBlasio's representative was Daniel Abramson (dabramson@CityHall.nyc.gov) Brooklyn Borough Director of Community Relations for (CB 1,2,6, and 7 and maybe more). I had the pleasure of addressing the crowd and was just so thrilled to meet all the elected officials. I was so pleased to see the success of our friends Dealice, Antonia and Sarah and their friends, neighbors and family. My sister came with me and she was so glad we spent the time supporting and seeing how other everyday people live and talk about their homes and their lives.
Insider Report of Last Resitance to SBT M-L Exit
Noting that Southbridge is on the agenda for the September Boare Meeting of CU4ML, I thought I'd give you the update. I'm going to assume you already know that SBT Cooperators for M-L and the Shareholders Association joined forces and hired Barry Mallin to challenge the vote. On August 12th we learned of the judge's decision to dismiss our petition. Barry's petition was masterful; the judge's decision was not.
Barry called the AAG to find out if she would continue to withhold acceptance of the Effectiveness Amendment in the event we decided to appeal the decision. She would not. Although Barry and we thought there were sufficient grounds to appeal, the impending acceptance of the Effectiveness Amendment meant that time would run out; SBT would be a private market rate co-op before we could get the case before an appeals judge.
The AG accepted the Amendment on August 31st. On September 3rd the Board sent the required 7-day notice to our elected officials and will file the amended Certificate of Incorporation with the Department of State this week. They expect the State to sign off on it immediately and, by the end of the week, SBT will be a private co-op. 1641 affordable housing units will have bitten the dust.
On September 10, 2015 the "Secretary of State accepted SBT's Amended Certificate of Reconstitution. As a result, we are reconstituted as a private cooperative." From a memo to shareholders from the President of the Board of Directors.
We waged a mighty battle for nine years and I think we all learned a lot. We thank CU4ML and UHAB for your support and advise and letters and analysis of the plan. Joan Meyler's counsel was invaluable and we have deeply missed her wisdom and quiet steadfastness.
SBT Cooperators for Mitchell-Lama is dissolved. I will continue being active in the Shareholders Association primarily as a watchdog.
Roberta Singer, South Bridge Towers Shareholder
News Reports on South Bridge Tower's Exit from Mitchell-Lama
If you haven't seen it already, a local e-newsletter, the "Downtown Post NYC" reported on the latest mauverings by the SBT Board and those challenging the legitimacy of the Privatization vote.
The NYTimes Features The Southbridge Buy-Out Vote
On November 14, 2014, the recent vote by Southbridge Towers to leave Mitchell-Lama was featured in the Sunday Real Estate Section of the New York Times. It was a significate article and included a quote by CU4ML President, Christine Fowley.
The web was also abuzz about the news about the Southbridge Towers vote. The proposal to privatize carried by 10 votes over the tow thirds needed. Other articles have appeared in the news and real estate websites such as Brick Underground, The Real Deal, and The Daily News. There are two however that particularly caught CU4LM's attention.
Almost immediately after the vote, an article from The Downtown Post, an newsletter, distributed exclusively by e-mail, gave a comprehensive breakdown of the incredibly close vote for privatization and how the voting took place.
"Southbridge Towers Residents Vote To Exit Mitchell-Lama, Removing 1,651 Units From Affordable Housing Rolls"
Another excellent article that appeared on the Urban Omnibus a publication from the Architectural League describes the divergent forces propelling buy-outs in M-L coops . Written by Charles Chawalko, a recent graduate from Parsons’ Design & Urban Ecologies program, and a life-long resident of Southbridge Towers, he gives a first had look at how the vote has changed his community and who the winners and losers may be.
NYSAFAH Askes For $1 Billon for Affordable Housing
The New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) has asked that $1 billion of the mortgage foreclosure settlement be allocated to develop and preserve affordable housing, including Mitchell-Lama projects. (New York Daily News, Thursday, December 4, 2014).
The Mitchell-Lama Task Force
BP Markowitz, Brooklyn Mitchell-Lama Task Force Release Mitchell-Lama Survey Results
Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz, in conjunction with the Mitchell-Lama Task Force, is today releasing the results of an ongoing survey conducted to assess the satisfaction of residents in Mitchell-Lama housing. Mitchell-Lama was created with the purpose of giving middle class New Yorkers an opportunity to have decent and affordable housing. The program is targeted towards working families, with some residents residing in co-ops and owning their apartments while others are renters. Over 5000 units of Mitchell-Lama housing have been preserved over the last four years in Brooklyn alone. The Brooklyn Mitchell-Lama Task Force’s mission is to promote the preservation of this program and its members are dedicated to this goal.
“Bravo to the members of the Mitchell-Lama Task Force and to Mitchell-Lama housing residents for providing valuable feedback in this ongoing survey of the residence program,” said BP Markowitz. “Brooklyn has always been the borough for everyone from everywhere and every income level. Mitchell Lama housing ensures affordable housing for our city residents in a city increasingly out of the reach of low and middle income residents. With continued investment and support, we must continue this vital program for many more years to come.”
"The Mitchell-Lama Task Force is grateful to our Borough President, Marty Markowitz, for giving us the opportunity to do this survey,” said Task Force Co-Chair Dealice Fuller. “This survey demonstrated the continued need for the preservation of the Mitchell-Lama program. Furthermore we applaud the Mitchell-Lama Task Force members for putting in the time and commitment necessary to create this survey that allowed people to convey their needs and concerns in regards to the Mitchell-Lama program.”
Office of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Mitchell Lama Survey Results
In The Coops
Shareholders at Cadman Towers Vote Against Pro-Privatization Funding Request
At it's latest membership meeting Cadman Tower's board needed 2/3 of the apartments to authorize a funding request to pursue privatication, but less than 1/3 voted in favor of it. The effect is that privatization is dead at Cadman Towers for at least a year, at which time they could begin again — from square one, with a vote on undertaking a feasibility study.
In The Courts
A Final Decision by the New York Court of Appeals Court Rules in Favor of the Mitchell-Lama Advocates, 6–0.
Summary of the Final Desision by Barry Mallin, Esq., Attorney for
the East Midtown Plaza Mitchell-Lama Organization
In the third and final act in the court battle to preserve affordable Mitchell-Lama housing at East Midtown Plaza, the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the State, issued a decisive ruling on November 19, 2012, in favor of the advocates of Mitchell-Lama housing.
To read the full article on the November 19, 2012 desision, download a pdf of
Attorney, Barry Malin's summary of the court's desision — Click here.
On June 14, 2011 the Appellate Division, First Department had issued a resounding vindication of the positions argued by the East Midtown Plaza Mitchell-Lama Organization (EMP-MLO) and rejected the contentions advanced by the pro-privatization EMP board.
To read the full article on the June 14, 2012 desision, download a pdf of
Attorney, Barry Malin's summary of the court's desision — Click here.
For a related article on East Midtown Plaza's Court Cases — Click here
This article appeared in the Sunday, June 29, 2014 New York Times Real Estate Section.
Cooperators for Mitchell-Lama (cu4ml.org) advocates that Section 3-4(i)(15) of the NYC Housing Preservation and Development rules be rescinded. This rule allows Mitchell-Lama cooperatives to withdraw from the Mitchell-Lama Program and reconstitute as much less affordable Article XI/HDFC coops- which are the HDFC coops described in this article.
Mitchell-Lama and affordable housing:
Here is an article from The Cooperator that briefly outlines the privatization debate:
This is a more recent article from City Limits that explores the privatization debate at East Midtown Plaza, a Mitchell-Lama coop in Kip’s Bay:
After privatization, the dependence on flip taxes means that the fate of a co-op becomes tied to fluctuations in the housing market. Before deciding to privatize, shareholders should think carefully about the risks involved in depending on the market. The recent economic troubles and crash in housing prices underscore these risks. This is a recent New York Times article that discusses the continuing price deflation of New York City co-ops.
In The Courts
Trump Village 3 Liable for Payment of
Real Property Transfer Tax
Report Prepared by Barry Mallin, Esq.
In a decision that will have profound repercussions throughout the Mitchell-Lama community, a judge sitting in the Kings County Supreme Court ruled on February 18, 2011 (Index No. 26572/10) that the privatization of Trump Village 3 will cost the reconstituted cooperative upwards of 21 million dollars in New York City real property transfer taxes.
To read the full article download a pdf of this document Click here.
On March 9, 2010, New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of HPD, the New York State Attorney General (AG) and the East Midtown Plaza Mitchell-Lama Organization (EMP-MLO), upholding a shareholder vote in January, 2009, that rejected privatization. As required by EMP's Certificate of Incorporation, the vote was counted one vote per dwelling unit, not one vote per share, an issue that is a major part of election reforms and clarifications needed throughout the Mitchell-Lama co-op program. When counted by dwelling unit, the proportion of EMP shareholders who voted for privatization was decidedly short of the two-thirds required to withdraw a co-op from the Mitchell-Lama program.
The pro-privatization board reacted by suing the Attorney General and HPD for interfering in EMP's corporate affairs by upholding the shareholders‚ vote, and EMP-MLO intervened on HPD and the AG's side. The board's suit charged that the AG lacked jurisdiction over Mitchell-Lama offering plans, but Justice Emily Jane Goodman ruled that that argument lacked any support whatever. Regarding counting the vote by unit, not shares, she cited the Business Corporation Law and EMP's own Certificate of Incorporation, which mandates that all votes be counted by dwelling unit in any and all meetings, for any and all purposes.