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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)

Early July, 2021 – “News and Update”

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

MVUT continues to assist tenants who have rent arrears due to Covid – loss of income and/or increased expenses. As of this mailing date we’ve submitted 30 applications, helped 16 tenants upload documents for their applications and referred over 70 families/individuals to the ERAP website —nysrenthelp.otda.ny.gov – and/or to the toll-free phone number I-844-691-7368.  We continue to promote the availability throughout town by various means, e.g., distribution of flyers explaining the program (copy enclosed).  If you, or someone you know would like bulk copies for distribution, feel free to copy the enclosed, or contact the MVUT office for copies.

Westchester Plaza Tenant Association

We’re enclosing a 2-sided news article “Mt. Vernon Tenants Challenge State Rent Control Agency” regarding the Association’s continuing battle with the New York State Homes and Communitv Renewal (NYS-HCR).  Also, the Association, under the extremely-gifted leadership of Tamara Stewart had a meeting on Tuesday, June 29, that featured presentations by:

  • Eric Crump – City of Mt. Vernon Planning Department – CMVNY CONNECT App
  • Monica Hughes – City of Mt. Vernon Planning Department  – Financial Navigators program
  • George Assante – Legal Services of Hudson Valley – Eviction Prevention
  • Dennis Hanratty – MVUT- ERAP
  • Tamara Stewart – Westchester Rent Guidelines Board (WRGB)- Tenant Member

Westchester Rent Guidelines Board (WRGB)  

On Monday, June 28, the WRGB passed rent guidelines for next year (Lease renewals beginning October 1, 2o21 – September 30, 2022). Guidelines are .5% for a one (1) year renewal, and 1% for a two (2) year renewal. While we thought 0% and 0% would have been justified, those guidelines .5% and 1% are still a victory for tenants. Special thanks to Tamara Stewart for her great work here. A special “shout-out” also to former WRGB tenant member Genevieve Roche, and long-time MVUT supporter Michael McKee, the Treasurer of Tenants Political Action for their analyses and testimony!

Code Enforcement

We’re entering a whole new – and BETTER, era for code Enforcement in Mt. Vernon. Where MVUT has always lobbied for additional code enforcement officers, our pleas had fallen on deaf ears for years. But now … the City just recently had two code (2) enforcement officers in the Department of Buildings, and they now have five (5) – three {3) new additional hires!  And there will be two (2) more coming on as well!  Imagine that-from two (2) to seven (7)!!  That’s going to be especially good for tenants who are not receiving all of the services that they are supposed to.  Tenants can now reach out to the Department of Buildings, when in the past they were often unlikely to do so – not expecting proper responses for the Department.  In addition, as of July 1, 2021, the City of Mt. Vernon has a new app-CMVNY CONNECT App (see enclosed July 6th Journal News article “App Lets City Residents Report a Variety of Problems“) where tenants can make complaints and trace them through the whole process. This is all really exciting.  We can hopefully stabilize and improve our housing stock and prevent the further deterioration of all tenants’ apartments.  The City is partnering with MVUT and Leeal Services ofthe Hudson Valley (LSHV) to make sure the code enforcement system works, and more effectively protects tenants and holds landlords accountable.  This is one of the most important developments in years for tenants in Mt. Vernon and we should all thank Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard for her leadership on this issue.  Thank You!!!

Additionally the city has just started a new program, the Financial Navigators, to help Mt. Vernon residents who have experienced financial hardship during the pandemic.  Monica Hudson will be leading this office. We’re enclosing a flyer with the contact information (Struggling to Pay Bills).

Tenants’ Rights Workshop

We sponsored a successful Tenants’ Rights and Rent Arrears Workshop with Legal Services of the Hudson Vallev (LSHV) and the City of Mt. Vernon’s Planning Department on Thursday June 24. LSHV attorneys George Asante, Marcie Koback and Dennis covered a wide variety of Tenants’ Rights issues from the Warrantv of Habitability (WHO) Law to the large improvements in the State Tenant Protection Laws – Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, to the campaign for the passage of a “Right to Counsel” Law on both the County and State level.  We also covered ERAP and other resources available to tenants to avoid eviction. while there were only approximately twenty (20) direct attendees, nearly six hundred (600) joined in via Facebookl  Thanks to the Planning Department for technical coordination of the event.

On reverse side of this page see a flyer from CVR NY Westchester Housing Choice Voucher announcing a “waiting list opening.”  This is an opportunity for people to possibly secure a much-needed Section I Voucher.  The application period is brief – 5 days!  You must follow the directions if you want to apply. Good Luck!

Support Tenants Rights !

Support Affordable Housing! !

Support MVUT!!!

Download items from mid-July 2021 MVUT News and Updates mailing (PDF):

MVUTJuly2021

MVUT-JULY2021-B

MVUT-ERAP

Struggling to Pay Bills

 

Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) Information

Emergency Rent Assistance Program (ERAP)

Those eligible should act fast: once the funding is gone, it’s gone.

State Offices of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) will be processing renters’ applications in the vast majority of states.

Renters/Landlords must apply ONLINE:

nysrenthelp.otda.ny.gov

1-844-691-7368

As soon as you see it on the screen, write down your application REGISTRATION NUMBER – it will be required durins this process.
If you go back to find it, you may have to begin all over again!

Have the following actual documents before you sign on:

  • Current utility bill (Con Ed)
  • Proof of the rent you owe right now (or your lease)
  • Landlord’s EMAIL;
  • Photo lDs for everyone in the household over 18 (Drivers license with address that has rent arrears or passport);
  • Proof of income for atl in the household (current pay stub). Unemployment insurance statement showing amount you get. lf you have direct deposit and no pay stub, get
  • Bank statement that shows the direct deposit.
  • 2020 tax return: but just signature pages?  Page with gross or something different
  • Re: lease, only page with amount and signatures