Showing posts with label Cooper Square Committee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooper Square Committee. Show all posts

Sunday, February 4, 2024

These East Village tenants held a dance party to call out their landlord's sewage treatment

This past Tuesday, East Village residents and their supporters gathered outside 256 E. 10th St. between Avenue A and First Avenue to call on their landlord for safe building conditions. 

The newly formed EV Scharfman Coalition, along with the Cooper Square Committee, was behind this "Scharfman, Cut The Sh*t!" Dance Party. NYC Comptroller Brad Lander and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein also spoke on behalf of the tenants.

Some background, per Cooper Square officials: 
Tenants of landlord Mark Scharfman are calling on their landlord to meet with them as they've requested, stop taking tenants to court for legally withholding rent during sewage flooding, treat them respectfully, and provide safe, sanitary living conditions. 

After three rounds of sewage flooding in one East Village building and similar issues in another building, several responses from the fire department, and requests for repairs and maintenance unanswered or seriously delayed, tenants have banded together to bring attention to the terrible conditions they've lived through as well as their experiences with their landlord and management company as some now face housing court because they legally withheld rent for unlivable conditions. 

Mark Scharfman, the owner of the buildings and a landlord associated with close to 150 buildings in NYC, many of which are managed under his Beach Lane Property Management Company, has been accused of tax fraud by multiple organizations, serious maltreatment of tenants, and more for years. In addition, Scharfman has been on the Public Advocate's Worst Landlord List, coming in at number 44 in 2021 and number 28 in 2020.
"The conditions that these tenants have suffered through, including fecal matter entering into their apartments, is beyond the pale," said Cooper Square Committee organizer Illapa Sairitupac. "Scharfman has an obligation to listen to his tenants and keep his buildings in good repair at the very minimum. We demand he take them seriously."

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Check out this free screening of 'Rabble Rousers: Frances Goldin and the Fight for Cooper Square' tomorrow night

Tomorrow (Thursday) night, there's a free screening of "Rabble Rousers: Frances Goldin and the Fight for Cooper Square" on Fourth Street between Second Avenue and the Bowery. (This block is part of the official Open Streets program just on Thursday evenings.) 

The documentary tells the story that led to the creation of the Cooper Square Community Land Trust:
A trailblazing housing organizer and her diverse working-class neighbors fight Robert Moses, the real-estate industry and five mayors to create the first Community Land Trust in New York City — an oasis of permanently low-income housing in the heart of the rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side.

Read more about the film here.  

There's a pre-film discussion starting at 7:45... with "Rabble Rousers" starting at 8:30 p.m. 

Goldin died in May 2020 at age 95.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

5th Street tenants speak out against construction as harassment and lead exposure

Tenants in two buildings on Fifth Street spoke out last week against construction as harassment and potential lead exposure on the block between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. 

The residents from 216 E. Fifth St. and 236 E. Fifth St. were joined by the Cooper Square Committee and Lead Dust Free NYC Coalition as well as a handful of local elected officials. 

In a statement from the Cooper Square Committee:
Residents of both (pre-1960) buildings have reported work performed outside of the parameters of Local Law 1 of 2004, with disregard for tenant safety. Tenant complaints include work performed by contractors without proper EPA certification, without air scrubbers running or zip covers installed on doors, nor were other measures taken to control the dispersion of construction dust from units where demolition took place.
Public records show that the Sabet Group purchased No. 236 in early 2019. 

A member of the 236 E. 5th St. Tenants Association said that the landlord "has been engaged in ongoing demolition and renovation of over 15 units, without complying with the lead dust regulations of the Tenant Protection Plan (TPP) ... thereby exposing tenants to dangerous levels of lead." 

Meanwhile, No. 216 changed hands in a sale recorded last August, public records show. Tenants identified the landlord as NYU student Caspar Moll-von der Wettern. 

Members of the tenants association "recounted clouds of dust and debris circulating throughout the buildings, neglected repairs, unlawful solicitation of buy-out offers and unresponsive management." (There are numerous recent complaints on file with the DOB here.)

"These two buildings on East Fifth Street, just a stone's throw from one another, tell a story which will resonate for many tenants around this city: a continuous battle for their safety and security in the face of hazardous building renovations," Yonatan Tadele, a housing organizer at the Cooper Square Committee, said in a statement. 

The Lead Dust Free NYC Coalition released video highlights from the rally on June 30...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

It's virtual gala time for the Cooper Square Committee

Cooper Square Committee, the 60-year-old neighborhood organization advocating for tenants and a stable, healthy local community, is hosting its annual fundraiser on Dec. 4.

Like many organizations, there's a budget shortfall this year ... along with a greater demand to help tenants, seniors and small-business owners who are struggling with rents and other issues during the pandemic.

The Virtual Gala is Friday, Dec. 4 from 7-8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Find the info at this link

If you can't make the event, then you can also make a donation here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Cooper Square Committee offering free online workshop to stay lead safe at home

Via the EVG inbox...

As we start gearing up for the fall season and indoor months to come, Cooper Square Committee is hosting a workshop for tenants, especially parents of young children, on staying lead safe at home.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it seems likely that parents and young children will spend more time in their apartments in the coming months, potentially increasing their exposure to lead hazards in the home, like dust and chipping or peeling paint.

Join tenants, advocates, and organizers for a workshop on the ways in which tenants can fight back against lead exposure in their buildings!

The free online workshop is tomorrow (Sept. 2) night at 7. You can resister at this link.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

There's a Rent Laws Town Hall this Saturday

Via the EVG inbox...

New York's rent laws are set to expire this June, giving tenants a unique a chance to push for comprehensive legislation to protect and expand rent stabilization across the state — but we won't win without a fight!

Join the Cooper Square Committee, the Metropolitan Council on Housing and University Settlement, along with a number of local elected officials to learn more about the Housing Justice for All coalition's bold policy platform and to find out how you and your neighbors can get involved in the fight to defend the rights of tenants in New York!

The Town Hall is Saturday (April 6) from 2-4 p.m. at Speyer Hall, 184 Eldridge St. at Rivington Street.

You can read more background on this Gothamist post from March 21 titled "Push For Stronger NY Rent Laws Goes Up Against Powerful Landlord Lobby."

Monday, February 25, 2019

Report: Discussions on a mixed-income community for former St. Emeric property

[EVG file photo]

There is some development news to report about the former Church of Saint Emeric, which has sat empty since merging with St. Brigid's in early 2013.

St. Emeric's, built in 1950, is on a lonely stretch of 13th Street near Avenue D. The church sits next to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection's Manhattan Pumping Station and across the street from the Con Ed power plant ...

[EVG file photo]

As Curbed reported late last week, the Archdiocese of New York is considering a proposal to turn the 300,000-square-foot property, which includes a former school, over to a land trust for 400 units of below-market-rate housing.

Per Curbed...

The Cooper Square Community Land Trust has offered to partner with developer Jonathan Rose Companies to create a mixed-income community ...

The Archdiocese has already committed to devoting 100,000 square feet of the property toward affordable housing — though they have yet to define tenant income requirements — on land that houses the former Church of St. Emeric. But housing advocates say the church should further its charitable mission by devoting the entire lot to low- to middle-income housing.


[I]f the trust’s proposal to develop St. Emeric's is accepted, the project would also include community space, as well as services for mental and physical health, senior services, and educational programming. The group would fine tune the plan based off of community feedback.

And if all this goes through, given the proximity to Con Ed, the land would require environmental remediation from contaminated soil.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese doesn't seem so keen to convert the former Church of Nativity on Second Avenue between Second Street and Third Street into similar housing.

The Church closed after a service on July 31, 2015, merging with Most Holy Redeemer on Third Street. In the summer of 2017, the archdiocese desacralized the former church, clearing the way for a potential sale of the desirable property.

Back to Curbed:

The Cooper Square Community Land Trust ... offered to buy Church of the Nativity for $18.5 million (with $5 million in closing costs) over a 30-year period, but the Archdiocese has instead expressed interest in seeking market value for the land and using the funds to address needs at the Most Holy Redeemer and parishes across the city.

The Cooper Square Community Land Trust is currently organizing a town hall this spring with Community Board 3 to discuss "how decommissioned churches can be best utilized by the Archdiocese and the communities they once served." Something other than demolishing them to make way for ultra-luxury condos.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Looking at the Church of Saint Emeric on East 13th Street

From St. Emeric's to St. Brigid's

Educator: Turning the former Church of the Nativity into luxury housing would be a 'sordid use' of the property

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Get the lead out: Tenants call for protections from lead dust during renovations

[Photo via the Cooper Square Committee]

City Council is taking up new legislation regarding lead and is holding a joint oversight and legislative hearing tomorrow morning.

Ahead of that, the Cooper Square Committee, working with local residents and elected officials, released a statement as well as a series of photos that "tell a story of lead contamination."

Per Cooper Square:

Tenants from the Lead Dust Free NYC (LDFNYC) coalition are releasing a series of photos showing the faces of lead dust contamination. As elected officials focus more on the issue of lead in NYC housing, LDFNYC urges them to crack down on landlords who contaminate buildings with lead during construction.

Lead contamination arising from unchecked construction dust has hit Lower East Side (LES) tenants hard over the last five years. Landlords like Samy Mahfar, Steve Croman, Raphael Toledano, and Icon Realty have all exposed tenants to lead through this form of contamination. In response, LES tenants have formed this campaign and assembled these photos of themselves to highlight the extreme lead exposure they have faced through construction dust in their buildings.

While tenants applaud new legislative efforts to stop lead poisoning, they want to also bring attention to the lax enforcement of existing laws. NYC’s predominant lead law is Local Law One of 2004. It was enacted fourteen years ago and many aspects of the law, which would help protect tenants from lead laden construction dust, are simply not being enforced.

"We have had multiple lead violations at 514 E. 12th St. The last violation placed found lead dust at four times the EPA standard. I do not believe Local Law One is enforced," said Holly Slayton, a longtime East Village resident whose doctor advised her and her daughter to wear face masks in their own home during renovations in their building (pictured above). "I had to call city agencies continually to get the dust tested and the landlord to follow the proper Local Law One protocol."

The statement from the Cooper Square Committee also includes comments from local elected officials, including City Council member Carlina Rivera and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.

Back in May, City Council member Margaret S. Chin introduced legislation to empower city agencies "to stop dangerous and dirty construction before it sickens tenants and their families."

Here's more background from Chin's office:

In 1960, New York City was one of the first municipalities to ban the use of lead paint. In 2004, Local Law 1 set a goal for the City to eliminate lead in all residential buildings by 2010. Eight years past that deadline, it is clear that there is still more work to be done.

Under current law, landlords must perform annual checks for lead-based paint hazards in multiple dwellings built before 1960 with units that house children under 6 years old. Landlords must also perform a check whenever an apartment becomes vacant. To remediate the problem, landlords often paint over the lead paint surface. Because paint is susceptible to chipping or fading, this only creates a temporary solution to the presence of lead.

Intro 873 pushes for a permanent solution by requiring landlords to permanently remove or encapsulate any lead paint once a unit becomes vacant.

Intro 874 would increase inter-agency coordination when construction work blows lead particles into residential units and common areas, and also allow the City to issue a stop work order if a unit has received a notice of a lead-based paint hazard.

These two bills, sponsored by Chin, were introduced as part of a legislative package of 23 bills to expand the City’s oversight over lead paint, decrease the threshold for elevated blood lead levels that trigger investigation, improve inter-agency coordination and call for reporting to assess the impact and effectiveness of the City’s lead prevention measures.

Meanwhile, according to a new report by the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, city officials have never brought a case against a landlord for failing to inspect their apartments for lead since the law was enacted requiring such inspections. Read more at the Post.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Health Department to inspect Raphael Toledano's East Village properties for toxic levels of lead dust

Ongoing concerns about demolition work and elevated lead levels in Toledano-owned buildings

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Illegal hotel row mural defaced again in First Street Green Art Park

Someone has twice vandalized the illegal hotel row mural since its arrival in First Street Green Art Park back in May.

The folks at the Cooper Square Committee shared this with me on Monday:

On June 27, tenants from East 1st Street rallied alongside affordable housing activists and elected officials to celebrate the completion of a community mural project, which called attention to the high concentration and negative effects of commercially operated, short-term apartment rentals facilitated by platforms like VRBO and Airbnb. These amateur muralists were shocked, but not surprised, to find that their project had been vandalized for the second time since they had begun work on the mural in early May.

On both occasions their mural was the only artwork in the First Street Green Art Park to be hit by the vandal, and the muralists allege that their messaging about the negative impact of short-term rentals on the community, as well as information on what tenants can do if they believe an illegal hotel is being operated in their building, were intentionally obscured.

A report issued in May 2018 by City Comptroller Scott Stringer notes that Chinatown and the Lower East Side are home to a high concentration of short-term rentals. Tenants living in buildings where illegal hotel operations are common allege that illegal hotels reduce affordable housing options and compromise tenant safety and quality of life — the lucrative prices that short-term rentals fetch contribute to displacement pressure on long-term tenants, and tenants' lives are often grossly disrupted by the influx of tourists and strangers who are able to access their building.

Residents in buildings where these operations are common claim they are routinely woken up in the middle of the night by confused guests ringing their buzzers and travelers carrying luggage up and down their stairs at all hours of the night. Others have woken up to find vomit in building common areas.

The tenants who worked on the mural are currently planning their response, and are looking for support from members of the community who are also concerned about illegal hotels' detrimental effects on the community.

Here's a video about the mural project...


[Photo from late June]

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Small Business Breakfast for East Village merchants

Tomorrow morning, the Cooper Square Committee and the East Village Independent Merchants Association (EVIMA) are hosting a Small Business Breakfast ... details via the EVG inbox...

Join us for breakfast and learn about available services and resources useful to your business.

As part of their work, Cooper Square Committee has joined with EVIMA to offer support and protection to independent small businesses

• Advocate for commercial tenants' rights
• Connect small businesses to high-quality free legal services
• Sponsor the annual Taste of East Village Festival
• Innovate small business policy with a city wide coalition of partners

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Cooper Square Committee HQ, 61 E. Fourth St. between Second Avenue and the Bowery.

Find more details here. RSVP here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A celebration of tenant groups this weekend

On Saturday, the Middle Collegiate Church is hosting a Tenant Empowerment Conference.

Here are the details via the EVG inbox...

The goal of the conference is to celebrate all of the great work that's been done by tenant groups in New York City over the past few years.

We will also discuss the most effective means for tenants to assert their rights in the face of misbehaving landlords, rapacious developers and greedy banks.

In attendance will be tenants who have confronted predatory equity-practicing landlords (ie., Steve Croman, ICON Realty, Renaissance Properties, Jared Kushner, Samy Mahfar, Raphael Toledano, Madison Realty Capital etc.), as well as affordable housing advocates, local small business owners who are being threatened, local press, elected representatives and other interested parties from all over the city.

The conference will last from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. There will be a welcome address and a keynote speaker. There will be three panel discussions, run sequentially.

Tenant power packs, continental breakfast and lunchtime sandwiches will be provided to attendees.

The TTC (The Tenants Coalition, formerly the Toledano Tenants Coalition) and Cooper Square Committee are the co-hosts. The Middle Collegiate Church entrance is at 50 E. Seventh St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

Here's a slide show that that the groups put together ... showing some of what tenant organizations in the city have done in the past two years:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

[Updated — cancelled] A 'Dirt Bags for Dirtbags' march

Updated 8 p.m.

Cancelled! Officials at the Cooper Square Committee have instead decided to concentrate all efforts on a press conference now slated to take place on the steps of City Hall on Aug. 9 at 11 a.m.

Via the EVG inbox...from the Cooper Square Committee...

Join us [tomorrow] to march on the offices of two of the City’s most aggressive landlords to deliver symbolic “dirt bags” to them as a reminder of the dust, debris, and misery they subjected their tenants to during construction in their buildings.

These bad actors seem to have forgotten the power of a city of renters standing in solidarity, so it’s time to pay them a visit and demand that construction-as-harassment becomes a thing of the past!

We’ll also be advocating for the passage of 12 bills proposed by the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) coalition that are currently making their way through City Council. This legislation will work to reform the DOB and crack down on landlords who use construction to harass and displace tenants.

We’re also going to be accompanied by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a radical marching band, who will make some noise to support the cause!

Participants are gathering tomorrow at the Cube at Astor Place. Start time is listed as 10:45 a.m.

Organizers from the Cooper Square Committee will name the two landlords closer to the time of the march. (The names won't come as a surprise.)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

More on today's Taste of East Village benefit

Today's Taste of the East Village festival includes a free performance by Public Access T.V. outside the Orpheum on Second Avenue.

The four band members, along with their manager, all lived in 123 Second Ave. across the street... one of the three buildings destroyed during the deadly gas explosion on March 26, 2015.

The Times has a piece on the band, who were on tour in Los Angeles at the time of the explosion. The members are all living in the neighborhood again thanks to the Cooper Square Committee.

And today's festival is a benefit for Cooper Square. (Tickets are $30.)

Free show aside, the festival takes place on Seventh Street between Second Avenue and Cooper Square.

Per the event website:

Taste of East Village is an outdoor culinary festival ... benefiting the affordable housing preservation and development work, social services, and senior programming of the Cooper Square Committee.

We feature dishes from more than 15 of the East Village’s best restaurants and eateries (see the list below), and live entertainment from local musicians — The Jazz Passengers, Maquina Mono, Public Access TV, Rachelle Garniez, Bill Popp and the Tapes, Bern and the Brights.

Buying a Taste of East Village ticket helps raise money for Cooper Square Committee’s affordable housing development work (including the Bea Arthur Residence for homeless LGBT youth), greening and resiliency programs, tenant counseling, organizing and anti-eviction work, and social services for low income households and senior citizens.

This all takes place between noon and 5 p.m.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Former 13th Street crack house may become housing for homeless LGBT youth

The long-vacant building at 222 E. 13th St. near Third Avenue may be getting a new life as housing for 12-to-18 homeless LGBT youth. On Monday night, CB3's Land Use Commitee unanimously voted in support of the proposal at the former SRO and notorious crack house that has been boarded up for nearly 20 years. Per the website of the Cooper Square Committee, who is spearheading the campaign:

Their proposal (in partnership with the Ali Forney Center) is "to turn a vacant city owned building at 222 E. 13th St. into housing for 12 - 18 homeless LGBT youth. Community Board 3's resolution will urge HPD (the City's housing agency) to grant us site control so that we can apply for the funds needed to renovate the building. We appreciate the support of the more than 500 people who signed the petition in support of our proposal. We will continue to need community support to move this project forward to a successful conclusion. There are over 1,500 homeless LGBT youth in NYC, so this is a small, but important, step in addressing the larger crisis."

Find more information on the project here.

For a lot more of the complicated history on this building, read our post here: A haunted house on 13th Street?

For further reading:
The New Community Activism (City Journal)