Bronx Residents Get Rent Stabilization After Year-Long Fight – Bronx Times

After a year-long fight, 500 Bronx residents will be able to keep their apartment rent stabilized.

On March 8, hundreds of rent-stabilized tenants residing at 1187 Anderson Ave., 1191 Anderson Ave., 1195 Anderson Ave., 1220 Shakespeare Ave., 1210 Woodycrest Ave. and 1230 Woodycrest Ave., announced a major victory that allows them to keep their apartment rents regulated and preserve affordability. The recent decision was not made by a judge, but in the form of an order and decision from New York State’s Division of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR), the agency that oversees Rent Regulation, which has rejected a request from real estate investor Emerald Equity Group to deregulate apartments and orders the landlord to issue rent-stabilized leases to all tenants.

In August, these Highbridge tenants protested against vermin, chronic leaks, mold and non-working appliances in apartment buildings the landlord hoped to deregulate in order to raise rent.

A hole dug by a rat in a flat in Highbridge. Photo courtesy Jen Llanos

“The Tenants’ Association is pleased with this huge victory,” said Julius Bennett, Tenants Leader of 1230 Woodycrest Ave. “But happiness is not complete. Our landlord hasn’t paid Con Edison for months and now we are suffering because of this dishonesty. The building presents a high risk of seeing services cut off, we will not have electricity in the common areas of the building nor cooking gas. Enough is enough, we will continue the fight, but we need the support of our elected officials.

In April 2021, tenants in all five buildings were notified that Emerald Equity Group had filed an application with the DHCR to remove their apartments from rent stabilization. The tenants organized with the help of New Settlement’s tenant organizing project, Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA), and were represented by the Bronx Legal Services‘ Tenant Rights Coalition. Although tenants celebrate this court ruling, they continue to fight their landlord to make repairs and pay overdue utility bills.

State Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner was also instrumental in the victory through her advocacy with the DHCR, which often takes years to make decisions.

“Fighting to protect hundreds of Bronx families in my district from the unscrupulous practices of Emerald Equities, I am very pleased that DHCR is enforcing state law designed to help tenants retain their homes,” Joyner said. . “I look forward to building on the strong partnership I have with local tenant leaders and being a strong advocate for tenants throughout our community.

Bronx Legal Services found that construction in the 1990s was financed with public funds from the equity loan program, which is governed by Section 15 of the state’s Private Housing Finance Act. This stipulation protects the buildings from deregulation and the DHCR cited the law to reject Emerald Equity’s claim.

But the organizing efforts and the struggle of the tenants are not over.

Tenants continue to demand that their landlord fix unsafe conditions in buildings, including rodents, cockroaches, mold, leaks, plumbing problems, erratic heat and hot water, and malfunctioning elevators. In December 2021, 1,230 tenants in Woodycrest and 1,220 in Shakespeare also received stop notices from Con Edison after the landlord failed to pay bills. Tenants staged a rally on March 1 to demand the landlord pay their bills.

“Tenants have worked hard to organize their neighbors, even during the height of the pandemic, and their hard work has paid off,” said Eliza Schafler, attorney at Bronx Legal Services’ Tenant Rights Coalition. “We applaud DHCR’s decision, which recognizes the legal protections available to preserve affordable housing for years to come. Unfortunately, Emerald Equity Group is still refusing to perform repairs and pay utility bills. These tenants have suffered for too long, they deserve better and we will continue to fight for them.

-with reporting by Jason Cohen

About Bernice Dyer

Check Also

New partnerships to expand life-saving domestic violence support

We have established several new partnerships to expand Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) across …