Mid-August 2021 “News and Update”

Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

In our last two (2) mailings we’ve described how MVUT is one of eleven (11) agencies within Westchester County processing ERAP applications. ERAP funds are federal dollars that are being administered by the New York state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (NYS- OTDA). While tenants can call the MVUT office AT (914) 699-111 4 X304 for an appointment to do applications, they can also do their own application by going to the ERAP website nysrenthelp.otda.ny.gov, or by calling (1-) 844-691-7368. They can also call 211 for assistance.  On Saturday, July 31, MVUT co-sponsored a three (3)-hour outreach event on ERAP at the Mt. Vernon Public Library with the United Way of Westchester and the Mt. Vernon Department of Planning. As a result of this event there has been an increased response in tenants’ reaching out to various agencies to seek help!

By the time you receive this, MVUT will have already submitted over one hundred (100+) applications and helped dozens of others upload various documents in processing their own applications, and referred well over a hundred others to the ERAP website. We enclosed a “fact sheet” in our last mailing describing the necessary documents to be included in applications and we’ll provide more to people if they need them – just call the office to request them. MVUT Board Member Vivian Spady has temporarily given up her Board seat and will come on as staff to help process ERAP applications.

Right to Counsel 

MVUT has been a key player in the Westchester County Right to Counsel Coalition (R2C). Westchester County has allocated funds to do a study on the cost of Westchester’s providing a Right to Counsel for income-eligible tenants in eviction proceedings in local courts. There’s an ugly imbalance of power in most landlord/tenant court cases with very, very few tenants being represented by an attorney, while virtually all of the landlords are. This often results in tenants being evicted when they very well might have been able to remain in their homes. We’re enclosing a packet from the R2C coalition describing the value of a Right to Counsel Program and asking you to call, write, and/or email the County Executive George Latimer, asking him to carry out this feasibility study. We’re having a “Week of Action” from Monday, August 16 to Friday August 20. Please take action during that weekl  We’re also asking you to contact the County legislators as well. For Mt. Vernon Tenants, your legislator is Tyrae Woodson-Samuels (914) 995-2837. If you live elsewhere, call the Board of Legislators office at (914) 995-2800 to find out your legislator. There are models of letters and calls as part of the packet. Please call and writel!! Ask your friends and neighbors to do likewise.

Building Organizing

MVUT is beginning to work with some building tenants’ associations:

  • 47 Oak Street (processing a State building-wide Rent Reduction, Complaint Re: No “Live-in” super)
  • 29 South Second Avenue (organizing the tenants who have not had gas for months)
  • 20 Water Grant Street, Yonkers (assisted the tenants in this new un-regulated building in forming a Tenant Association.  They’ve elected officers and already met with their City Council Representative!)

$ for MVUT 

We’re enclosing a new fund-raising flyer we’ve just prepared. Look at all of the great things MVUT has been involved in and the successes we’ve helped produce for tenants!  We’d ask that you, our members and friends, either copy and distribute this to the tenants in your building, or call MVUT and we’ll provide you with bulk copies. Please help!

  • Support Tenants’ Rights!
  • Support Affordable Housing! !
  • Support MVUT!!!

Download Mid-August 2021 News and Update (PDF)

FUNDRAISING FLYER

THE HOT DAYS OF SUMMER ARE HERE AND THE

PANDEMIC WE’VE ALL BEEN LIVING THROUGH IS

SEEMINGLY COMING TO AN END. HOORAY! STILL

BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

MVUT has been busy delivering for you and all tenants:

ERAP – MVUT is assisting tenants in filing applications for rent arrears under the Emerqency Rental Assistance Program if they’ve either lost income or had additional expenses as a result of Covid-19. We’ve processed over fifty (50+) applications, uploaded documents for dozens of others, and referred over one hundred (100+) to the ERAP website – nysrenthelp@otda.ny.qov or telephone 1-844-691-7368

CODE ENFORCEMENTMVUT has always pushed the city of Mt. Vernon to strengthen its code enforcement process to protect tenants’ apartments.  Our advocacy has borne fruit as the City has hired three (3) more code enforcement inspectors and will be hiring two (2) more! YES!!

HISPANIC OUTREACH – Through a grant with the city, we’ve been able to hire a Spanish-speaking tenant organizer, Andrew Aguilar, to help MVUT provide its services to the Spanish-speaking tenants who have been regularly abused by the system!

WESTCHESTER RENT GUIDELINES BOARD (WBGB) – The WRGB passed new rent adjustments for leases beginning between 10/1/21  9/30/22. They are .5% for one (1) year renewals, and 1% for two (2) year renewals. Thanks to WRGB Tenant Member and MVUT member Tamara Stewart for her strong advocacy on the Board and to the many MVUT members who testified at the Public Hearings!

SCRIE/DRIEMVUT continues to help tenants who live in rent-regulated buildings to apply for both the Senior and Disabled Rent lncrease Exemption Programs whereby their rents can be frozen.

BUILDING ORGANIZING– With the pandemic starting to wane, more buildings are willing to have meetings and address their issues. MVUT has recently been meeting with tenant associations in Mt. Vernon and Yonkers .

INDIVIDUAL COUNSELING/ADVOCACY – MVUT continues to provide intensive case management for tenants facing eviction, trying to restore services, fighting rent increases/overcharges and other landlord harassment. We assist dozens weekly.

POLICY ADVOCACY – In addition to the above items, MVUT has played a leading or supponting roll in many coalition efforts on housing and economic justice issues, e.g. the Westchester “Right to Counsel” Coalition; the campaign for non-discrimination protection in renting, regarding Source Of Income (SOI); the statewide Housinq Justice for All (HJ4A) Coalition; the Westchester Eviction Prevention Network (WEPN); etc.

Support MVUT!!

Yes. I agree MVUT is doinq great work for tenants. I want to help them do even more! Enclosed find my contribution of:

$25 s50 $100 $200 $500 other

Name:

Address:

Telephone:

Email:

Please make checks payable to MVUT and mail to MVUT at P.O. Box 2107, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551  or bring to the office at 2 Gramatan Ave. Suite 304.
Letters_Emails_Calls – RTC Aug Week of Action Toolkit (2)
Thank you!

Download August 2021 Fundraising Flyer (PDF)

Download Right To Counsel Westchester Week of Action Flyer (PDF)

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