MVUT News and Update – February 2024

Next* MVUT General Membership Meeting
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
2 Gramatan Ave., Suite 304

Note: *We have not been scheduling “in person” General Membership Meetings” as a result of the pandemic and many tenants’ reluctance to meet in person because of it. We’re trying to establish regular monthly meetings now.

Neighborhood Preservation (NPP)

The New York State Neighborhood Preservation Program I (NYS-NPP) is MVUT’S largest funding source. This past year the State granted all NPCs (those groups who receive funding under the NPP) a 30% increase! We were hoping that this amount, with the 30% increase, would be the starting amount in this year’s State budget debate. Unfortunately, the Governor cut all of last year’s increase in her Executive budget. As a result we have to push the legislature to restore those funds the governor proposes to cut, plus add an incremental increase.

As we do each year, MVUT is organizing a bus to Albany on our “Legislative Action Day” (Wednesday, February 14 – see enclosed flyer.) This will be for all six (6) groups in Westchester that get funded through the NPP. We’re also attaching a copy of a “statement” that Dennis made to the Westchester Delegation of the New York State Legislature for background information last week.

We’re asking our members and friends to “Get on the Bus” February 14th. The bus will leave from Mt. Vernon City Hall at 7:30am and return by 6:00pm. If you’re able to, we’d ask that people pay $20. If you do not have the $20 we will try to get sponsors to cover your fare. Most important, we want you on the bus!

Call the MVUT office at (914) 699-1114 to reserve your seat(s.) Fill out the form on the flyer and return it to the office with your check or money order. If you cannot go, but want to sponsor someone else to go, please also forward your payment.

Building Organizing

As referenced in Dennis’ testimony we had effective organizing and advocacy in the following buildings: Macedonia Towers (150 South 5th Avenue), 153 South 5th Ave., 229 South 7th Ave, 60 West First St., and just last week, we participated in an extremely promising building meeting at 30 Cottage Ave/45 Park Ave. member and the Westchester Rent Guidelines Board (WRGB) “tenant member,” Tamara Stewart organized the meeting and did a wonderful job. In attendance were two (2) representatives from the Mt. Vernon Department of Buildings, Jaime Pessin, Code Enforcement Manager and Roberto Amigon, Inspector, two (2) City Council members, Ed Poteat and Derrick Thompson, and the Mt. Vernon Representative on the Westchester County Board of Legislators (W-BOL), Tyrae Woodson-Samuels. There was a strong sense of energy and commitment to work together to address the myriad issues within the building. Two (2) main building-wide concerns are the roof and the elevator. Tamara started the tenants in preparing a State Building-wide Rent Reduction Complaint. The message here, as in all cases,”organized tenants can win!” Go Tenants of 30 Cottage Ave: 145 Park Ave !!!

Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP)

Our HPP continues to work day-in, day-out fighting evictions and helping some tenants in finding “re-housing” We’re currently putting together year-end data and will report numbers in an upcoming mailing.

The Journal News 1/14/24 “High Rental Prices Could Shorten Lease – on Life”

We’ve talked for years about the incredible stress tenants face when facing eviction, or fighting huge increases, or various other forms of harassment that they are often subjected to. We deal with tenants in these various conditions all the time, virtually every day. We’ve constantly focused on how all of this housing insecurity puts tenants in unhealthy conditions. Much of this stress causes severe health results for many, up to and including premature death! We’re enclosing an article from the Sunday Journal News (1/14/24) which highlights these threats to tenants’ health. Keep in mind that MVUT’s efforts are essential in fighting for tenants’ health and safety! It’s great to see major media pieces recognize these threats and stresses.

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

Mt Vernon United Tenants
PO Box 2107
Mt Vernon NY 10551

Office: 2-Gramatan Avenue – Suite 307
Mt Vernon, NY 10551

Phone (914) 699-1114 ~Fax (914) 699-7449
Email mvut [at] – Website:


The New York State Neighborhood Preservation Program (NYS-NPP) has long been Mount Vernon United Tenants’ (MVUT) largest funding source. For over ten (10+) years MVUT received “flat” funding through the NYS- NPP, i.e. no increases. The value of this funding was seriously eroded via inflation. Last year the state legislature increased funding dramatically. THANK YOU! This year the Governor is proposing to cut back all of that increase in her Executive Budget. We say NO! We need the legislature to restore the funds!


Join us to fight for fair and restored funding. We need YOU to “get on the bus” with us to tell the NYS legislators how valuable MVUT’s work is and how full funding must be restored! Round trip bus fare is $20 but we’ll also provide scholarships for those unable to afford the fare. Most importantly, we want you “on the bus!”

Fill out the form below and mail or bring it to the MVUT office:





Enclosed find my $20 bus fare

I cannot afford bus fare but want to go

I cannot go but will support one or more tenants with a donation.

Enclosed find my check/money order made out to MVUT in the amount of $


Phone (914) 699-1114 ~ Fax (914) 699-7449 Email: – Website:

New York State Assembly – Westchester Delegation
Virtual Budget Forum
January 25, 2024

Presentation by Dennis Hanratty, Executive Director
of Mt. Vernon United Tenants

Good afternoon Chairman Gary Pretlow and to all of the Westchester State Assembly members. My name is Dennis Hanratty and I am the Executive Director of Mt. Vernon United Tenants (MVUT) Most all of you have known me for years of advocating for tenants’ rights and affordable housing. Today I’m coming to you to ask for your continuing support for the State Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP.) The NPP provides Core administrative support to non-profit housing groups that are engaging in various “Preservation Activities” in income- challenged neighborhoods. Some groups build housing, some manage housing, some, like MVUT, do “tenant assistance.”
There are six (6) Neighborhood Preservation Companies (NPCs), i.e. those that receive funding under the NPP in Westchester:

-Mt. Vernon United Tenants
-Westhab of Yonkers
– North Yonkers Preservation & Development Corp.
– Washingtonville Housing Alliance (Mamaroneck)
– Human Development Services of Westchester (Port Chester)
– Interfaith Council for Action (Ossining)

Those six (6) groups are fairly representative in performing one (1) or more of the three (3) categories of program activities referenced above. My organization, Mt. Vernon United Tenants (MVUT) provides “Tenant Assistance.” Our Program Assistance primarily falls under three (3) issues:
1.) Homelessness Prevention and Re-Housing (HPP) – intensive case management to fight evictions and keep tenants in their permanent homes
2.) Tenant Action Project (TAP) — building organizing to educate and assist tenants in forming effective tenant associations to better represent their interests.
3.) Policy Advocacy (PA) – work with tenants and others to promote tenants’ rights and affordable housing on Municipal, County, State and Federal levels.

We regularly stop over one hundred (100+) evictions a year (both within our NPP contract neighborhood, and in the rest of Mt. Vernon and throughout Westchester.) As the ONLY funded and staffed Tenant Association in Westchester County we get calls on an ongoing basis from throughout the County!! Some of the buildings we are currently working on include 60 West First St, Macedonia Towers(150 South 5 Avenue), 229 South 7th Ave, 153 South 5th Ave., and 30 Cottage Ave/45 Park Ave. Our organizing work in these buildings usually focuses on lack of services, landlord harassment, lease disputes, improper eviction, etc.

Prior to last year, for ten plus (10+) years, NPP funding was stuck in the low $90 thousands. We complained that “flat funding is actually a cut in funding” as the value of our contracts were eroded via inflation. Finally last year the Statewide NPP was dramatically increased from just over $12 million to $17.63million! Thank you! This increase actually reflected the missed increases over the prior ten (10) years. With affordable housing continuing to be the most intractable problem most communities are facing, and with all of the NPCs doing “more with less”, it was assumed that this $17.63 million would now be the new “starting point for this year’s budget discussions. Instead we see this huge reduction. We need the legislature to bring NPP funding up to the $17.63 million and provide at least a moderate increase. Please do so! This is such a small portion of the State budget and the return is so, so great!

MVUT is organizing a bus to Albany on Valentine’s Day, Wednesday February 14th, and we’ve been making appointments with all of your offices for that day. Additionally we’ll be participating in a “rally” in the Well at 11:30am and we’d really like it if you could stop by there before the legislative visits in the afternoon. Thank you for your consideration.

High rental prices could shorten lease – on life
Adrianna Rodriguez

Soaring rent prices aren’t just hurting wallets. They’re shortening life spans.

Adrianna Rodriguez


People who spent a vast portion of their income on rent were more likely to experience poor health and had a greater risk of premature death, the study found.

The research published in November in the peer-reviewed journal Social Science & Medicine also found that evictions and even the threat of being evicted were linked to higher mortality rates.

“Rising rents and evictions have been having a huge impact on mortality rates for American renters,” said Nick Graetz, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University and the lead author of the sociology study.

Experts say tenants whose rent had gone up are more likely to suffer from chronic stress, which research has shown can lead to headache disorders, heart disease and hypertension.

People who spend more than 30% of their monthly income on rent may also be less likely to spend money on healthy foods and medical care, health experts say, and may spend more time at work trying to keep up with unaffordable rent instead of taking the time to manage health conditions.

Why are renters dying?

Despite a cooling market, the rent increases overall remain higher than they were before the pandemic. And as monthly costs have skyrocketed, tenants have struggled to keep up.

Between 2019 and 2021, the median monthly rent increased by 3% while the median renter’s income fell by 2%, according to a 2023 Harvard report. Housing experts recommend tenants spend less than 30% of their income on rent, yet study authors found more than 21 million U.S. households spend more than that, with some even spending as much as 50%.

In the January study, study authors isolated the impact of rent on renters’ health by looking at millions of eviction records and linking them to the evicted person’s death records and census data. They controlled for systematic differences in characteristics  including race, ethnicity, sex, education, household and neighborhood – when comparing mortality rates and tenants with different rent burdens over time.

Tenants who are at risk of being evicted tend to prioritize paying rent “at the expense of all other costs of life” that may impact their health like food, utilities and medical care, Graetz said.

Danya Keene, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences at Yale School of Public Health, authored a study that found rental assistance alleviates psychological stress. She said chronic stress from not being able to keep up with high rental prices may also lead to poor health.

Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol, according to the American Psychological Association, which affects all bodily systems. Research shows chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, clogged arteries, anxiety, depression and addiction. Keene said chronic stress can also lead people to coping mechanisms that further damage health, including long work hours and substance abuse.

“When people are living in the day-to-day fear of eviction because they know they’re just one missed payment or one unexpected expense away from being evicted – that keeps them up at night,” she said.

Housing crisis turned health crisis

The only way to reverse this health trend is to address the housing crisis, Keene said.

There’s an urgent need to create more housing and offer more subsidies that make housing affordable. Tenants spend an average of two years – in some cases up to 10 years – on waiting lists after they apply for rental subsidies, Keene said, and only 1 in 5 eligible households end up receiving them.

A 2021 study she co-authored found renters in New Haven, Connecticut, who weren’t receiving assistance or were on the waitlist for it were more likely to report severe psychological distress than those who had received subsidies.

Another way to improve renters’ health is to protect them against eviction, Graetz, the author of the Princeton study, said.

Judges tend to side with landlords, and tenants are not guaranteed counsel, Graetz said. Once a renter is evicted, they have a strict number of days to find somewhere to live. Under a time crunch, they often settle for housing that’s more expensive than where they had previously lived and the whole cycle repeats itself.

“The law favors owners at the end of the day and provides very little protection for tenants,” he said. Renters live “under a system that makes it difficult to retain housing whenever you experience a problem.”

Some cities are beginning to catch on and implement programs that mitigate evictions.

Philadelphia has kept a pandemic-era mediation program that provides resources to landlords and tenants to resolve issues without involving the court process. If a tenant owes less than $3,000 in back rent, landlords must go through the program before filing for eviction.

“We’re not going to solve the problem without creating more housing,” Keene said.

Send tips to Adrianna Rodriguez: adrodriguez [at]

News and Update – Late Sept. 2023

MVUT Annual Meeting

Next Tuesday October 3, 2023 MVUT will hold its Annual Meeting (see enclosed flyer.) At the Annual Meeting we’ll elect three (3) members to our Board of Directors. MVUT has a nine (9) member board and three (3) are elected each year to serve three (3) year terms. In addition to the election of Board members, we’ll review MVUT‘s efforts of the past year and begin to plan our campaigns for the upcoming year.

Right to Counsel

As referred to above, the major public policy campaign that MVUT will be working on is “Right to Counsel.” MVUT has been involved with other housing and human rights organizations, both Countywide and Statewide in working on this issue over the past year. We’re enclosing a two(2) sided flyer “Statewide Right to Counsel (A1493/S2721): A Campaign to Guarantee Right to Counsel to Every Tenant in New York State” which explains the issue.  Part of the campaign is getting various municipalities to pass resolutions calling on the State Government to pass the bill. The Yonkers City Council is expected to pass such a resolution within the next few weeks.

Dennis has broached the issue to the Mt. Vernon City Council of having them pass such a resolution. He’ll be testifying again on September 27, and we’ll be asking our members and friends to come out to the Wednesday October 11 City Council Meeting in support of the Mt. Vernon City Council’s passing such a resolution. The City Council meets at 7:00pm on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month and if you want to testify at the Council Meeting you have to call the City Clerk at (914) 665-2352 by 3:00pm of the day of the meeting and give the City Clerk your name, address and the topic you will be speaking on.

To get more involved in the campaign, call the office. Tenants facing a court eviction are at an extreme disadvantage. “Right to Counsel” would begin to “level the playing field.” for tenants who often get evicted when they may have had legitimate defenses and did not know of them or did not know how to properly assert them. Help tenants fight back! Pass “Right to Counsel”!!   More info is available at:

Building News

122 North Third Avenue

The tenant association has been moving along well here. Part of the reason for their success has been the strong leadership of the acting Chairpersom Angela Brunson. However as sometimes happens in tenant organizing a leader moves. This is what’s happening here. Ms. Brunson is moving down south and will be leaving 122 North Third Avenue shortly. Fortunately, Ms. Brunson had some able assistants and Jackie Harmon is ready to step into the leadership role created by Ms Brunson’s vacature. Best of Luck to Ms. Brunson in her new home and to Ms. Harmon. Just let us know what MVUT can do for the tenants association at 122 North Third Avenue going forward.

Macedonia Towers (150 South Fifth Avenue)

On Thursday July 27 the tenants and MVUT organized a major meeting in the building.

Representatives from the Department of Buildings, the Planning Department, the Mayor’s Office, County Legislator Tyrae Woodson-Samuels, staff and the building’s management reviewed many of the tenants’ concerns, and began to schedule inspections of the various tenants’ apartments. There was a strong spirit of cooperation among most of the participants. The leading tenant organizers were Shawna Holmes and Priscilla Edmunds. They had been working with Dennis to get the various officials to attend. The Tenant Association is following up on the individual apartment complaints.

For those who don’t know her, Priscilla Edmunds was instrumental in the planning for this meeting. At the time of the planning and the meeting she was weeks away from her 100th birthday!!! She turned 100 on Monday September 4, and on Saturday September 2 the members of Macedonia Baptist Church threw a birthday party for Priscilla with over a hundred (100+) guests! It was a great event with Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and former Mayor Ernie Davis — each praising Priscilla’s long and distinguished service. Dennis served as Emcee of the event. And then on her birthday on Monday they had her magnified picture on the electronic scoreboard at Mt. Vernon’s newly rehabilitated Memorial Field. (See on reverse side of Annual Meeting Notice!) All-in-all a well deserved recognition. HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY PRISCILLA!!!

Housing is A Human Right!

We’ve included an article by Sasha Abramson, “Other Countries Know Housing is a Human Right. Why Doesn’t America?” about the different responses to housing and homelessness between Europeail cities and American west coast cities.

Support Tenants’ Rights!

Support Affordable Housing! !

Support MVUT ! !






At our Annual Meeting, we will be electing three (3) members to our Board ofDirectors. MVUT has a nine (9) member Board and three (3) seats come for election every year. Members serve a three (3) year term. All paid members of MVUT are eligible to vote.

If you are interested in serving on our Board give Dennis Hanratty, the Executive Director a call at (914) 699-1114, ext. 303.

We will review lots of exciting news:

  • Eviction Prevention successes
  • Building Organizing news
  • Updates on Policy Campaigns

And begin making plans for the upcoming yearts Campaigns.

Come to the Annual Meeting! Get involved in one (1) or more of the important issues/campaigns listed above! Help us win more victories and become even stronger! Help us raise funds to improve even more!!!

Refreshments served afterwards.

Please call 699-1114, ext. 303 for further information


Yes, I want to help MVUT win even more victories.  I’m enclosing my  contribution of $ 20 for my basic annual membership.  I want to do even more, enclosed is my contribution of:

$ 25,$ 50,$ 100, $ 200 or Other





Download PDFs:

MVUT Late Sept 2023 News and Update (Download PDF)

Statewide Right to Counsel Campaign (Download PDF)

Housing is a Human Right (Download PDF)

News and Update Early July 2023

Westchester Rent Control Guidelines Board (WRBG)

Good News!!! The WRGB met last week to pass the rent adjustment for next year (for leases that begin between 10/1/23-9/30/24.) The guidelines for Westchester Rent-Stabilized Tenants are 1% increase for a one (1) year renewal, or 2% for a two (2) year renewal. This was despite the landlords’ requesting guideline increases of 6% and 10%! After the full WRGB passed the 1% and 2% guidelines the two (2) landlord representatives got up and walked out of the meeting in protest! Did you say “Isn’t that like a little kid taking his baseball home to stop the game when he didn’t like the way the game was going?” Yes, the two (2) landlord representatives are adults – go figure!

Special thanks to the two tenant representatives who did such a powerful job for us, MVUT’s own Tamara Stewart, and Sylvia Hamer of New Rochelle. Their compelling presentations were invaluable to the public members. Likewise Genevieve Roche of MVUT destroyed much of the landlords’ arguments in her presentation and analysis of their claims. Thanks to all three (3) ladies!

Right to Counsel

MVUT has played a leading role in the effort to get “Right to Counsel” protection for tenants here in Westchester for years! We’re starting to see favorable results:

On May 15 the Westchester County Board of Legislators (W-BOL) unanimously passed an “Access to Counsel” bill which will be phased in over a six (6) month period (see enclosed copy of a May 21, 2023 Sunday Journal News Article “Westchester Aims to Give Tenants Attorneys in Eviction Cases.”

On the state level the “Right to Counsel” bill that we were working on in coalition with others throughout Westchester and New York State did not come up for a vote(nor did a number of other housing bills that we were supporting.) However we’ll be gearing up for a strong campaign for passage next year. Already, the statewide coalition that has been key in this fight, Housing Courts Must Change (HCMC) is developing a plan for next year’s campaign. Dennis participated in an HCMC “Summer 2023 Campaign Retreat” upstate on June 23-25 where thirty-five (35) tenant activists, organizers, attorneys, etc. gathered to begin to focus specifically on passing statewide “Right to Counsel in 2024. We’ll be including info on how you and your building can get involved in this campaign in upcoming mailings. This will be major program effort for MVUT in the upcoming months. Stay Tuned!

Mt. Vernon Comprehensive Plan

The second Comprehensive Plan Public Workshop was held on the same evening as the WRGB vote (June 29) and MVUT was not able to be represented as a result. We’ll follow-up with staff from the Mt. Vernon Department of Planning and Community Development (MV-PCD) and get back to our members and friends in the next mailing.


We need your support! Please give generously. We had included a fundraising notice in our last mailing. Many of you responded. THANK YOU! We’re enclosing another envelope for your convenience for those who have not as yet given.

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

Download PDFs from Mailing:

MVUT Early July Mailing page 1

MVUT Early July Mailing page 2

Westchester Aims to Give Tenants Attorneys in Eviction Cases