By Ross Barkan in The Observer – Telling reporters that they were “royally screwed,” tenant activists and a Democratic city councilman blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo today for failing to bolster rent regulations as much as they had hoped. Gathered outside Mr. Cuomo’s Midtown office, the activists from left-leaning groups including Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change and Crown Heights Tenant Union called the Democratic governor a Republican, said he had done the equivalent of urinating on them, and even claimed he would be arrested before he sought re-election in 2018. “The deal that is about to be voted on is worse than the deal in 2011. They have done absolutely nothing to help tenants in New York City,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams, a Brooklyn Democrat and chair of the Council’s housing and buildings committee.
By Dennis Parker in ACLU – We’re living in a tale of two Americas, where racial segregation and racial disparities in housing continue to plague our nation. A report we released this week outlines just how disadvantaged future generations of Black Americans will be because of predatory lending practices that disproportionately targeted people of color. Yet, in the midst of the seemingly relentless reminders of the ways that racial discrimination continues to plague our nation, the decision of the Supreme Court in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. provides a much-needed cause for celebration. The decision is important not because it articulates a new principle, but because it re-affirms long-standing legal precedent that recognizes the purpose and function of the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968.
By Nick Muscavage in Legislative GazetteProtesters in support of stronger protections for renters slept in Academy Park in Albany last night with only pillows and sleeping bags. They are planning a protest in the Capitol Tuesday as lawmakers return to Albany to finish the legislative session. Rent regulations remains one of the last major issues to address before lawmakers can return to their districts for the summer. There were about 15 protesters from different organizations including NYC Communities and Real Rent sleeping in the park. While there, at least two Assembly members came to the park to show support and chat with the protesters. Assemblyman Keith Wright, D-Manhattan, and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan, both stopped by the park last night and visited with the protesters. Wright said at a press conference last week that he will fight for stronger rent laws as long as it takes.
By Monica Morales in Pix11 – Tenants, advocates and lawmakers camped out overnight Thursday outside the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo to protest the state letting housing regulation laws expire, impacting millions of New Yorkers who have rent stabilized apartments. Protesters have a powerful allies with them in the protest– Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams and several council makers. Many there are sleeping on the streets–to show the growing frustrations that millions of New Yorkers are feeling right now. Meantime the Mayor and the Attorney General held a joint press conference about busting bad landlord under a new taskforce created to protected tenants of rent stabilized apartments across the city. One of the first landlords arrested ran a building on Union Street. He allegedly endangered the health of his residents–including a six-year-old girl.
By Naureen Khan in Occupy – Tenants of this 43-unit apartment building — predominantly African-American, many of them elderly or disabled and receiving vouchers for Section 8 federally subsidized housing — were told their rental contracts were being terminated shortly after the building came under the ownership of Lafayette Square Apartments in December of last year. Critics charge that the maneuver is part of an increasingly common scheme in Los Angeles to drive away low-income residents and raise rents, contributing to the affordable-housing crunch in the city and the gentrification of once diverse neighborhoods. Notices informing residents that they had 60 to 90 days to forfeit their units began arriving in their mailboxes in January. By March, most tenants had been notified that their rental contracts would be terminated by mid-June.
By Richard Rothstein in Salon – Housing equity is Americans’ most important source of wealth. Average black family income is now about 60 percent of white family income, but black household wealth is only about 5 percent of white household wealth. This disparity is almost entirely attributable to federal policy that prohibited black families from accumulating equity during the suburban boom and thus from bequeathing that wealth to children, as whites have done. We don’t have what is commonly termed “de facto” segregation—primarily resulting from private prejudice, income differences, preferences to live separately, or demographic trends. Our segregation is “de jure,” resulting mostly from racially explicit public policies designed to create residential patterns we too easily accept as natural or accidental.
By Maria Sanchez Diez for Quartz. Colau, a well-known housing and anti-eviction activist, is the leader of the leftist coalition Barcelona en Comú (Barcelona Together). During Spanish regional elections in May, Colau’s party edged out the coalition lead by former Barcelona mayor Xavier Trias. Colau was helped by endorsements and support from new anti-austerity party Podemos, as well as the left-wing Catalan Green Party. Meanwhile in Madrid, 72-year-old judge and leader of a similar leftist alliance Manuela Carmena was sworn in as mayor thanks to support from the Socialist party. Carmena’s victory signals the end of 24 years of conservative leadership in the Spanish capital. Both Colau and Carmena have promised to cut their salaries and stop evictions. If Colau’s past record is any indication, she just might give banks a run for their money.
By Alex Ellefson for Waging Nonviolence. Housing advocates urged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency if regulations protecting almost 1 million affordable apartments are allowed to expire. Lawmakers in Albany have only four days to renew the rent laws and tenant rights groups called on Cuomo to accept nothing less from the state legislature than an overhaul of the current rules. “So many people in my neighborhood have been pushed out and evicted because of these weak rent laws,” Flatbush Tenant Coalition member Jean Folkes said during a rally outside City Hall on Thursday. “Brooklyn is becoming more expensive than Manhattan. They are coming to take it away from us. I’m begging Governor Cuomo, ‘Do the right thing.’” New York City Council members who attended the rally said they are willing to take control of the city’s rent-regulated apartments if state legislators fail to produce stronger protections for tenants.
By Madeline Stone and Matt Rosoff in Business Insider – A group of about 50 protesters swarmed the San Francisco home of Google lawyer Jack Halprin early Wednesday morning. Halprin purchased 812 Guerrero Street, a seven-unit apartment building in the Mission District, for $1.4 million in 2012. In 2014, he served tenants an eviction notice under the Ellis Act, which allows landowners — many of whom had purchased buildings at a discount because of rent-controlled tenants — to push existing tenants out so the buildings can “go out of business” and be converted into condos. According to Mission Local, this week tenant Rebecca Bauknight received a one-page Notice to Vacate that said she could be evicted from her apartment anytime after 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. Bauknight has reportedly lived in the building for more than 25 years.
By Drake Baer in Business Insider – The Economic Roundtable just came out with the largest study on homelessness in American history. And it turns out the best way to combat homelessness is to provide homes. The study’s focus was on Santa Clara County, California, home to the extreme wealth of Silicon Valley and the highest percentage of homelessness in the entire US. The methodology is enough to make a social scientist swoon: Researchers analyzed information about everyone in Santa Clara County who had been homeless between 2007 and 2012 — 104,206 people. Homelessness, the report details, gets very expensive. Between costs related to healthcare, social welfare, and the justice system, Santa Clara County as a whole spent $520 million on services for homeless residents. Those costs didn’t come from everybody who was homeless in that time period. As Gabrielle Canon at Mother Jones notes, much of those costs came from the roughly 2,800 people who were persistently homeless.
By Patrick Sheehan for Occupy.com. Antoinette Talley stands on a makeshift podium in the common area of a gray stone church on Detroit’s east side. As she addresses the audience, Talley is flanked by several of her neighbors, each of them recent homeowners in the new Gratiot-McDougall housing development just a few blocks north of the church. She and her neighbors have been fighting a dubious eviction notice from the project’s developer for months now. Today they are guests of honor at a fundraiser held on their behalf by the activist organization Detroit Eviction Defense. “Those houses are a part of us,” Talley tells the supporters, “That’s our family. And it would destroy me to have to leave my family behind and go somewhere else. You have all warmed our hearts, so thank God for fighting with us day in and day out.”
By Katie Herzog in Grist – The median home price in Seattle is now $535,000, a 19 percent increase since March 2014, and the market is so competitive that bidding wars are common. “I would say about 50 percent of homes are going over the asking price in the first week, and 16 percent are cash offers,” says longtime Seattle real estate agent Penny Bolton. “I just had a client who sold her house for a million-five. She paid $30,000 for it in the late ’70s, early ’80s.” With numbers like that, it’s a good time to be a seller in Seattle. A buyer? Not so much. When asked what the market is like for his clients, realtor Christian Nossum says, “Just today I had a buyer win a situation where there were 33 other offers. They were lucky No. 34 and they had to pay over $150,000 more than the asking price. If that doesn’t show how crazy the market is, I don’t know what does.”
By Senka Huskic in Occupy – Our Constitution contemplates a federal system of governing where states share in power that limits the federal government’s powers. Those powers which are not given to the federal government are reserved to the states. The Constitution contemplates each state will have sovereignty over its own territory. There is no core sovereignty more fundamental than that of the state to control the distribution of land within its borders. Typically, the federal Constitution and federal laws trump state constitutions and statutes. But state laws governing the distribution of land within the state are within the core sovereignty of the states and beyond the authority of Congress to regulate. The Supremacy Clause is very specific that only federal law, i.e. statutes and treaties enacted pursuant to the Constitution’s enumerated powers, are supreme.
By John Urquiza in Community Beacon News – About 26 activists, students and teachers gathered on the corner of Griffin Avenue and Broadway in Lincoln heights. The backdrop was the old abandoned Bi-Rite supermarket and weed covered parking lot. More than half were students from Abraham Lincoln High School who came together to voice their thoughts and dissatisfaction with the state of their neighborhood through their action, “Bye Bye Bi Rite.” 12 students organized this action as part of their internship with the Roots for Peace Program of American Friends Service Committee. This action was their strategic response to counter the effects of gentrification and their final class project. Their study, revealed 44% of the businesses were fast food, while 25% were liquor and convenience stores.