PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE POOR PEOPLES HEARING ON HOUSING INJUSTICE - THE PEOPLE SPEAK OUT
SATURDAY JUNE 22ND 2013
FROM 10AM TO 1PM
MT MORRIS ASCENSION PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH– IN HARLEM
->15 Mt Morris Park, New York, NY 10027, between 121st and 122nd Streets<-
ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE HON MARCUS GARVEY PARK
**Trains #2 or #3 to Lenox Avenue
**AND THE PEOPLE WILL SPEAK TO POWER BUT –
WILL INVITED ELECTED OFFICIALS, CANDIDATES FOR OFFICE; PUBLIC SERVANTS, STATE AND CITY HOUSING AND SOCIAL SERVICES AGENCIES; POLICY MAKERS AT CITY HALL, IN ALBANY AND IN WASHINGTON DC CARE AND REALLY LISTEN AS, AT EVERY TURN – WITH EACH DAY, THE ELDERLY, THE POOR, FAMILIES IN DISTRESS, SINGLE ADULT VETERANS, ETC. LIVING IN COMMUNITIES LIKE HARLEM, ARE DESPISED AND HARASSED AND EVICTED ONTO THE STREETS – BECAUSE MONEY RULES THE DAY – AND PROFITS ARE TO BE GAINED FROM BUILDINGS AND APARTMENT HUMAN BEINGS JUST DON'T MATTER. HOMELESS WOMEN AND MEN LIVE ON THE STREETS AND APARTMENTS ARE WAREHOUSED, WITH THE DOORS CHAINED AND PADLOCKED
Those testifying, on Saturday, June 22, at the Mt. Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church at the Peoples Hearing on Housing will discuss their particular housing needs and answer questions from the Housing Panel and from the audience. With
Sleeping in ATM vestibules and City bus shelters; pressured and harassed to buy out of their apartments by investor-landlords who just want them to go away, anywhere; warehoused in the City's shelter system for longer and longer periods of time (with no' apartments available) –while their -
Once despised, under-serviced neighborhoods of color have being 'discovered' and are being developed -right from under the feet of our long-time community residents - for profits and riches
But those testifying, victims of the neighborhood disruptions, will no longer turn a blind eye to those suffering or suffer themselves in silence. The poor and elderly Black women – our homeless mothers and grandmothers – cannot be allowed to trudge through the streets late at night, pushing walkers and pulling shopping carts, alone and unprotected – or asleep, slumped over in the bus shelters, or nearly upright in the ATM vestibules.
Our inactivity is shameful. With the many buildings being emptied out, poor tenants without legal representation evicted - and apartments vacated, doors chained and padlocked - made ready for those willing to pay thousands a month for rents, we must make our voices heard. We must say 'Enough'
Call the UPTOWN TENANT ADVOCACY COALITION – 347 – 337 - 9468
AND WHY NOT...
Free available, affordable, highly-skilled legal representation for the poor whenever summoned to court, pending an eviction by their Landlords
A Housing Court for West, Central and North Harlem as currently exists for
City legislation that would take buildings from landlords who warehouse apartments in neighborhoods with critical housing need
City appropriations for the local smaller churches and religious institutions to provide emergency overnight shelter accommodations for homeless singles
Neighborhood based renovation project to create new affordable housing and renovate properties also for affordable housing - with apprenticeship training for neighborhood youth
Something to struggle for
THE STORY OF ONE EMPTIED BUILDING
UPTOWN TENANT ADVOCACY 5.20.201314 EAST125TH STREET UPDATE
According to a source, the disaster brought upon a band of Harlem tenants and a middle-of-the-night-sale of the building by the LLC which bought the building from the City five years ago and was subsequently dragged into court on two occasion, are under investigation. We wish to look at the records.
As the City had the 14 East 125th Street LLC in court, earlier in the year, for a second time, regarding its treatment of the building's remaining tenants, LLC No 1 sold the building to LLC No 2 (the 139 Uptown LLC in Brooklyn) for $1,850,000.
A substantial profit as the building was hustled through Asset Sales program sales disposition procedures and sold by the City for $800,000. Then almost all of the residential tenants were evicted and all of the original commercial tenants are gone. New owners like their properties vacant.
Workers claiming to be from the City just came by one of the apartments and while not announcing that the apartment was going to be painted did a particularly inexcusable job, without drop cloths or furniture re-arrangements with the head of household not on the premises. A window was taken out and not returned til the following day. Coverings for the wall switches were not replaced, etc., etc. This is the apartment of Tenant Association president Ms. Sandra Johnson.
And she is irate and not signing off on any of this 'work'. As previously noted, the new landlord, another LLC recorded the building's sale in February 2013 while the first LLC was in Court.
That case was suddenly dropped case – and settlement was reached with the first LLC giving HPD some $20,000. Info regarding the first LLC has been crossed on the notices in the building lobby. There is no contact name or number in case of emergency.
No one is questioning this recent court agreement or the fact that all the LLC really did for five yeas it owned the building was to kick out most of the tenant it found on the premises - making it easier for re-sale.
The new LLC has offered at least one of the tenants a buyout. But she says she has now been told that that 'deal' is off the table.
The TA wishes to fill the large, vacant, chained and padlocked apartments with big families who have suffered needlessly at the hands of the City. Possible families are quietly being approached
And the tenants say that the last sale of the building should be declared null and void and the HPD Asset Sales program be investigated.
Samuel White, Jr.
UPTOWN TENANT ADVOCACY
14 EAST125TH STREET UPDATE 4.25.2013
This building has essentially been abandoned. The tenants are on their own. Tenant Association president Sandra Johnson (photo below), over 20 years in the building, says she just paid the Con Ed bill fearing that the hallway lights would be cut off. There is no name for a building superintendent over the mailboxes or is there an address or phone number to contact in case of a building emergency. The contact information for the previous super working for the previous owner has been crossed out. The mailboxes have no locks.
Since the most recent sale of the building, on February 28, 2013:
A man has come by, on a weekly basis, with a pail of water in the wee hours of the morning to do a top floor down mop down. No sweeping. Then he leaves. The man has never responded to greetings – and when asked for ID could not produce any. Another fellow once showed up, going from apartment to apartment on a Sunday morning. He claimed he was an architect. Still another man has came by asking about the residents and noted that those in one apartment (that of the TA President, Ms. Johnson) would be gone in a few days. Finally a group of men came by, knocking on doors, and when the daughter of the TA president said that her mother was not at home, was shocked and terrified when she later opened the door and found these same men quietly standing outside her door. All have had keys to the front door as well as the vacated apartments. So concerned community members have been watching - inside and outside the building, day and night - as a security measure.
Ms. Johnson has taken it upon herself to bag and remove the building's garbage as 'it's been smelling up the hallway'. (Note the photo.)
History: The Asset Sales program of the City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development sold 14 East 125th Street to the 14 East 125th Street LLC in 2008. The building had been in the City's real estate portfolio since 1980. The principals are Francis Synmoie (who is the head of a local management firm, Residential Works, Inc., and has his signature on the deed) and Beverly Baker (an attorney whose address is in New Jersey).
The LLC's attorney was the late Jesse Baker, (believed to be) Beverly's husband and a partner in the landlord law firm, Gutman, Mintz, Baker & Sonnenfeldt, P.C.
The LLC was required to remove all of the building's violations and give the tenants new two year leases at their current rents. But the LLC did neither. But it immediately moved to evict the tenants – and these were poor, and some elderly, tenants who had no understanding of their rights or knowledge of Housing Court procedure or legal representation. At this point, only two of the original residential tenants remain in the building and all of the commercial tenants have gone. (There is a relatively new restaurant occupying one of the storefronts.) And the violations to this day remain. HPD records show: 274 open violations - A class: 52, B class: 193, C class: 29 and I class: 0
The Cit, before the sale, assessed the building's value as $950,00 but sold it to the LLC for $800,000. Records indicate that City Council members waived the rules and regs to expedite the sale. A Legal Aid attorney wrote to the LLC explaining that the lease given to a tenant was not the lease that all parties had agreed to – and this was four years after the building's sale. Last year HPD took the LLC to court for falsely certifying that the violations had been corrected - in one apartment. Synmoie and his workers made promises but little was done. (And on a day of an inspection with HPD, on the street with all parties milling around, a neighborhood resident seriously embarrassed Mr. Synmoie. She rode up on her bicycle, cursing and threatening, saying that Mr. Synmoie had taken her $150 and failed to get her an apartment as promised. He had been ignoring her calls.) Synmoie is favored by the City, is an uptown ally and has ownership and management of quite a few Harlem properties.
The City took the LLC to court for the second time earlier this year, but that case was suddenly dropped. Tenants soon got a letter telling them to submit their rents to the 139 Uptown LLC in Brooklyn. The sale of the building was recorded in the Office of the City Register, on February 28, 2013. The 14 East 125th Street LLC bought the building from the City for $800,000 and sold it to the 139 Uptown LLC for $1,850,000. The principals of this new LLC are Mike Silber, Barry Farkas and Ephraim Vashovsky.
Tenants have asked for a special hearing by the City Council to address these concerns – but as yet have received no response
SAMUEL WHITE, JR
UPTOWN TENANT ADVOCACY
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