June Brings Big Victories for Tenants & Democracy!

END OF JUNE 2012 NEWS & UPDATES

Victories For Tenants and For Democracy!  Big Month For MVUT!!

MVUT had an exceptionally busy and successful month, scoring three (3) separate and distinct wins:

1) Helped secure low guidelines for rent-regulated tenants!
2) Promoted a Mt. Vernon City Council Resolution that passed calling for the overturning of the disastrous U. S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United!!
3) Prevented 18 evictions and helped rehouse 1 family!!!

1) Low Guidelines

MVUT was the key player, organizing tenants for participation in the three (3) Public Hearings and the two (2) subsequent Public Meetings that resulted in the Westchester Rent Guidelines Board (WRGB) passing renewal guidelines of 1.25% for one (1) year renewals, and 2.25% for two (2) year renewals (see copy of June 28 Journal News article enclosed). We worked closely with Tenant Representative Genevieve Roche who produced and distributed to the Board overwhelmingly compelling data and analysis showing continued and growing landlord profits in the midst of an economic recession – all at the tenants’ expense.

Three (3) Public Members of the Board, Ian Joseph, Eddie Mae Barnes and Jane Morgenstern, all stood up to the landlords’ representatives arguments and most especially, rejected the outrageously bullying, intimidation and condescending tactics of “Public Member” and Chair, Joseph Whelan, whose behavior at the final vote was so outrageous that even the Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR) counsel, Michael Rosenblatt was beside himself. In addition to the low guidelines (the lowest of the four regulated jurisdictions, the others being NYC, Nassau and Rockland), the Board flatly and resoundingly rejected the landlords’ attempts to pass minimal increases (what we call a “poor tax”) of $ 20 for a one (1) year renewal and $ 40 for a two (2) year renewals. The guidelines passed and the “poor tax” was defeated by the same 5 -2 margin.  (The Chair doesn’t vote except to break a tie.)  It was a great night for tenants!

The landlords had originally called for 5% (1 year) and 9% (2 years) renewal increases the week before. At the final vote meeting, and in the face of the incredibly persuasive arguments adduced by Ms. Roche, they reduced their call to 3.5% and 7% guidelines. Dennis and Ms. Roche both were on Journal News columnist Phil Reisman’s WVOX radio program the next day, along with Landlord Representative Ken Finger by telephone. Dennis and Genevieve easily countered Mr. Finger’s arguments, most of which were largely irrelevant, i.e. his argument against the very legitimacy of the law that the guidelines apply to – the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA). Those low guidelines will save tenants in Westchester literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next two (2) years!! That money is much better in tenants’ hands and to be spent in the local economy, rather than lining the already bulging pockets of Westchester landlords!

2) Citizens United

MVUT lobbied the Mt. Vernon City Council to pass a resolution in opposition to the horrible United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which equated campaign spending with free speech. There is a national movement to overturn this decision by having local jurisdictions (City Councils, Town Boards, County Boards, State Legislatures, etc.) pass a Resolution calling on Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn this wrongheaded decision. It’s a real opportunity for people throughout the country to get involved locally and say that our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Individual citizens cannot compete with the nearly unlimited funds of huge corporations and the many billionaires in the country. If we reallybelieve in democracy – one man, one vote etc., we must remove the huge infusion of money already being unleashed by Citizens United.

The Mt. Vernon City Council responded to MVUT’s entreaties and passed a Resolution on June 13 calling for the Congress to amend the Constitution.   Thanks City Council!!

If you know of others who would like to do likewise in other communities, call the MVUT office and we’ll help. We’ll do a Community View in The Journal News shortly on this. Watch for it.

3) MVUT’s Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP)

With all of the other work we were doing and winning on in June we also stopped eighteen (18) evictions and rehoused one (1) family!! How about that?!

Support Tenant Rights!
Support Economic Justice!!
Support MVUT!!!

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