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]

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