Stand for Tenant Safety Report calls for action
On January 20, 2021 The Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (STS) — a citywide coalition of thirty plus housing advocacy groups — released their latest report on the issue of construction-as-harassment. The report titled Unfinished Business at the Department of Buildings is based on participatory action research over the course of two years (2019 & 2020). In addition to the findings, the report lays out recommendations to better protect tenants from construction-as-harassment.
The official release celebration took place over Zoom. Many elected officials or their representatives were in attendance to lend their support. Lacey Tauber, legislative director for Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, said, “Please keep us in mind as an advocacy space.”
NYC Council Member (District 33), Lincoln Restler said, “The work to protecting tenants is more important than ever. We went door to door to every tenant facing eviction in District 33. Partnered with St. Nicks Alliance who is such a wonderful partner.” He added that he is also, “working with CORE and Los Sures to do anything we can to strengthen the STS package.”
Former Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, now NYC Council Member for District 6, and representatives from Comptroller Brad Lander and NYC Council Member Jennifer Gutierrez also joined the Zoom.
Juan Mayancela, representing NYC Council Member Jennifer Gutierrez, said, “The Council Member stands with the tenants and looks to passing legislation to provide more tenant protections.”
Members of the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition and TakeRoot Justice then presented some of the findings from the report. The data collected came from over 4000 complaints that were selected from a mountain of tenant complaints. The selection process was strict as they wanted complaints that contained both the time of complaint submission and the time of NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) inspection. They also conducted a phone survey of 39 people.
One of the first findings shared was that 86% of those surveyed learned about their rights via community organizations like TakeRoot Justice and St. Nicks Alliance instead of from the government.
Kika, a rent stabilized tenant from the East Village who suffered from construction-as-harassment, told her story. The trouble started a year ago when the building where she lived was bought by a landlord who was a known harasser. He tried to evict her and failed. When he evicted her neighbor construction on that apartment began, which caused a slew of problems for Kika and her neighbors. With guidance from STS, she and the rest of the tenants persistently complained to 311. The DOB discovered unlicensed workers and shut the construction down and the City sued landlord
“This coalition is amazing, one of the most effective ones when it comes to harassment in New York City,” said Rolando Guzman, a member of the coalition and Dep. Director of Community Preservation at St. Nicks Alliance.
Some of the report’s recommendations are: NYC Council should revise Local Law 150 to require meaningful “correct-by dates” based on the vacate reasons and to specify that the deadline to correct is four months from the vacate order; more interagency cooperation between the Office of the Tenant Advocate (OTA) and DOB to target public awareness concerning tenant’s rights during construction; and the DOB, the Department of Health, and the Department of Environmental Protection should share information on health-related complaints; and to escalate Class C violation fees — to name a few.
To read the full report go here: https://www.standfortenantsafety.org/report-unfinishedbusiness