[COMM-ORG] Tenant Organizing in NYC against blacklist

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Sun Dec 19 20:18:49 CST 2010

  From: Metropolitan Council on Housing <active at metcouncil.net>


Help End the Tenant Blacklist!
The Metropolitan Council on Housing and the National Lawyers Guild's NYC 
  Committee are joining forces to bring a federal civil-rights suit 
against the NY
State court system, seeking to block the sale of Housing Court data that 
is used
  to create "tenant blacklists." We are seeking potential plaintiffs for 
this case.
For years, New York's housing courts have been selling the data of 
tenants who are
taken to court by their landlords. The information is used to create 
"tenant screening
reports," which are sold to landlords to evaluate prospective new 
tenants. The reports
are better known as the "tenant blacklist," because when landlords find 
out that
  a tenant has been in housing court, that tenant is usually denied the 
  he or she is applying for, regardless of the reason for being taken to 
Tenants are punished for:

* legally withholding rent to force landlords to make repairs
* defending themselves in eviction cases that are brought through no 
fault of their
* defending against frivolous claims made by their landlord
* having the same name as a tenant sued in housing court
Concern about ending up on the blacklist also causes many tenants to 
avoid housing
court at all costs - discouraging many from exercising their legal rights.
We are seeking potential plaintiffs for this case!
Find out if you can represent the thousands of tenants harmed by the 

Review the criteria for becoming a plaintiff, as well as an article 
about the lawsuit
in this month's issue of Tenant/Inquilino, by visiting Met Council on 
website: www.metcouncil.net/stoptheblacklist.htm 

You can also send an email inquiry to: stoptheblacklist at metcouncil.net 
[mailto:stoptheblacklist at metcouncil.net]
You will receive an automatic reply with a brief questionnaire to 
evaluate whether
you will be a good fit for the case - and you will be personally 
contacted soon

If you appreciate Met Council on Housing's work, we encourage you to 
become a member:

Save the date:
Candlelight Vigil to Save Our Rent Protection Laws
Monday, January 3, 2011 - 6PM
Steps of City Hall in Manhattan
By subway:4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge; N/R to City Hall; J to Chambers St.; 
2/3 to
Park Pl.
The Metropolitan Council on Housing, along with other groups in the Real 
Rent Reform
(R3) campaign, invites you to a candlelight vigil on the steps of City 
Hall to highlight
the need to renew and strengthen our rent-stabilization and rent-control 
laws, which
2.5 million New Yorkers depend on in order to be able to afford their 
The laws will expire on June 15, 2011, and we need to preserve and 
expand these
vital protections, for the millions who depend on them now and for the 
next generation.
Candles will be provided.
No RSVP is necessary, but we'd appreciate a note saying that you can 
make it! Send
an email to:active at metcouncil.net [mailto:active at metcouncil.net]

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Eminent Domain Appeal in Columbia 
The U.S. Supreme Court announced this week that it would not hear an 
appeal seeking
to prevent the condemnation of properties in West Harlem sought by 
Columbia University
for a multi-billion-dollar expansion. Columbia has already begun 
demolition of buildings
between West 129th and West 131st Streets - many acquired using the 
threat of eminent
domain. Columbia's plan calls for the demolition of all but three 
buildings in a
  nearly five-block area - and 25 years of construction on 17 high-rise 
The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), a state agency, used 
the government's
powers of eminent domain to condemn the properties of owners in the area 
who refused
to sell to Columbia. In 2009, New York's Appellate Division declared 
that the process
was unconstitutional on multiple grounds, finding that the state had 
colluded with
the university to rig the public review process. New York's Court of 
Appeals overturned
that ruling, leaving the U.S. Supreme Court as the last judicial body 
able to weigh
in on the matter. Columbia's studies predict that thousands of mostly 
  residents will be displaced from the surrounding blocks as a result of 
its expansion,
and many area residents have vowed to move the legal fight to the streets.
Read more here: U.S. Supreme Court will not hear Manhattanville eminent 
domain case

Pedro Espada Indicted!

Outgoing State Senator and tenant foe Pedro Espada was indicted Tuesday 
for embezzling
money from a subsidiary of his health care network, Soundview Healthcare 

According to the charges, Senator Espada and his son abused their 
positions at Soundview
between 2005 and 2009 to divert more than half a million dollars from 
the nonprofit
organization and related companies for their own benefit and for the use 
of family
members and friends. We may never find out his connections to the real 
estate industry,
but Espada used his power as the NY State Senate Housing Committee chair 
to block
every effort to pass pro-tenant legislation in 2009 and 2010.

If convicted, Senator Espada could face significant jail time and fines. 
Read about
the case in the Daily News 
or read the full indictment 

Housing Notebook
Voice of the Tenant Movement
This week on Housing Notebook, host Scott Sommer will be joined by Steve 
and James Fishman, attorneys who are working with Met Council on Housing 
on a lawsuit
to end the sale of court information used for tenant blacklists (see the 
lead story
in this email, and in our weekly newspaper). The program will air on 
Monday, December
20, 2010, at 8PM. The call-in number is 212-209-2900.
Housing Notebook, a production of Metropolitan Council on Housing, 
normally airs
  Mondays on WBAI, 99.5 FM, from 8 to 9 PM in the New York metropolitan 
area, and
  on the World Wide Web at www.wbai.org 
Programs are archived for 90 days at www.archive.wbai.org 

News You May Have Missed:
Harlem Woman Shut Out of Affordable Housing by "Blacklist"

When Monique Holloway began looking for a new apartment that could 
accommodate her
wheelchair and limited income, she found that she's been placed on a 
  of would-be tenants because of an old housing court case on her record.

Large Gulf Remains in Stuy Town Rent Battle 
Landlords and tenants appear to be far apart on what the legal rents 
should be for
thousands of apartments in the beleaguered Stuyvesant Town and Peter 
Cooper Village
complexes on the East Side of Manhattan.
SPURA Panel Members Reach Impasse over Affordable Housing 
Community activists are struggling to reach a consensus on the future of 
the Seward
Park Urban Renewal Area. While the discussion was mostly civil, it also 
the deep ethnic and class divisions that are a fact of life in this 
Where's The City's Annual Slumlord List? 
Each November, the city's Housing Preservation and Development Agency 
a list of the 200 Worst Properties in New York 
the properties with the highest numbers of housing code violations per 
City "Liens" In on Slumlords 
The city is losing out on $100 million it believes it can recoup from 
by securing the ability to sell a host of new liens for emergency 
housing repairs
made for absentee landlords.
Understanding Tenants' Rights 
Several hundred rent-stabilized tenants gathered along with lawmakers at 
University Law School for one of the largest housing-rights forums in 
the city.
The purpose of the event was to educate rent-regulated tenants who, like 
many other
New Yorkers, have very little understanding of their rights as renters.

Join the Metropolitan Council on Housing today and get involved in the 
fight for
  decent, affordable housing!
To become a member and learn about the important work of Met Council on 
  go to: metcouncil.net/join.htm 
Members receive a free subscription to our monthly publication, 


Met Council on Housing's tenant hotline at 212-979-0611 between the 
hours of 1:30
and 5:00 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,for brief answers
to questions about your rights as a tenant, help in organizing a tenant
association in your building, or referrals.
Please note that we have been receiving a high volume of calls lately. 
If you are
unable to get through during our hotline hours, please be patient and 
try us back
a few minutes later.

Met Council's Housing Clinic offers tenants assistance with 
landlord-tenant disputes.
We meet at the offices of the Cooper Square Committee, located at 61 
East 4th Street
in Manhattan, every
Tuesday beginning at 6:30pm.
By subway: 6 to Astor Place; F to 2nd Avenue; or N/R to 8th Street.
Please bring all paperwork associated with your case.

 >From October 1 through May 31, landlords must provide heat at the 
following levels:
6am-10pm: If the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside  
must be at least 68 degrees everywhere in your apartment.
10pm-6am: If  the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees, the inside 
  must be at least 55 degrees everywhere in your apartment.
Hot water at a minimum of 120 degrees at the tap must be provided 24 
hours a day,
all year 'round.

Join Our Mailing List 

In Solidarity,
Metropolitan Council on Housing


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