Early July, 2O2O News & Update

Dear friends,

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from us as a result of this pandemic. We hope that this mailing finds you all in good health and surviving these trying times. While the office has not been officially open through the pandemic, it does not mean that we haven’t been busy, and that we haven’t been working on many important issues.

Westchester Rent Guidelines Board (WRGB) 

Despite being handicapped for this year’s process [we had one (1) tenant representative on the nine (9) member board as Jean Anderson had resigned earlier in the year and a replacement was not appointed in timel, the Westchester Rent Guidelines Board (WRGB) FROZE the rents for both one (1) and two (2) year renewal terms! These -0-% guidelines are for any lease renewals that come up between October 1,2020, and September 30,2021!  Landlords must offer you an ETPA Renewal Lease Form that lists both one (1) and two (2) year renewals at -0-% for both terms. Obviously everyone will take a two (2) year term unless you are planning to vacate after One (1) year.

The one (1) Tenant Representative remaining at the WRGB is Mt. Vernon’s own Tamara Stewart of the Plaza Buildings. As always, Tamara did an outstanding job convincing the Public Members of the plight of rent-regulated tenants and the more-than-comfortable profits that the landlords are making. Former WRGB tenant member, and now just plain Westchester tenant, Genevieve Roche, once again “crunched” the numbers in her inimitable fashion to refute landlord claims of hard times. Dennis and other MVUT members also provided compelling testimony on the tenants’ behalf.

This is a huge win for rent-stabilized tenants whose feases begin anywhere between 10/1/20 — 9/30/21.   lf you have any questions, please call the MVUT office. While landlords and their “hired guns” complain about how these guidelines are going to ruin them, the real result, along with the fabulous improvements in the state rent laws from 2019, is just to begin to “level the playing field” and limit the incredible imbalance that the landlords have always had. Congratulations to Tamara, Genevieve, the public members of the WRGB and to all Westchester rent-stabilized tenants!

Right to Counsel 

Speaking of the power imbalance that landlords have always wielded over tenants, one (1) of the clearest examples of that is local court proceedings, where virtually every landlord is represented by an attorney, while less than 5% of tenants have legal representation. while in criminal matters, every defendant is entitled to have an attorney, regardless of ability to pay, no such right extends to plaintiffs in civil matters, e.g. landlord/tenant proceedings. For the last few years there has been a growing movement throughout the country for a “Right to counsel” in landlord/tenant cases. A number of jurisdictions throughout the country, e.g. New York City, San Francisco, Newark, New Jersey, etc., have passed local “Right to Counsel” statutes, guaranteeing that tenants have legal representation in local landlord/tenant matters.

MVUT has been working with a number of different organizations (Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, Hudson Valley Justice Center, The Bridge Fund, etc.) to have Westchester County adopt such a “Right to counsel” statute. We’ve been strategizing among ourselves, and have recently reached out to leaders of the Westchester Board of Legislators (w-BoL) to make an initial proposal re: the adoption of same.  Westchester Board of Legislators Member Damon Maher is taking the lead on this at this time, and we’ll be meeting with him the week of July 6.  We’re enclosing a two (2) sided sheet that has a list of the seventeen (17) county Legislators on the W-BoL with their contact information and what municipalities they represent, and on the reverse side there’s a Petition in support of Legislation for you and others in your building to sign.  Please try to get the Petition completely filled out and return it to the MVUT office.  Please call with any questions or ideas. This could be a HUGE win for tenants here in Mount Vernon and Westchester, as we continue the struggle to reverse the incredible power imbalance that exists between landlords and tenants!

Census 2020 

We’ve been informing all of our members and friends of the importance of EVERYONE’S filling out the 2020 census.  Mt. Vernon will lose huge amounts of federal dollars over the next ten (10)years if people do not fill out the Census Form.  YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF!  All information is confidential. Even if you, or someone you know is undocumented, it does not matter.  The information cannot be shared with other government agencies.   We need everyone counted to guarantee the federal dollars we are entitled to base upon our population (EVERYONE who is living here, whether overcrowded, undocumented, etc.) actually is received by Mt. Vernon.

Mt. Vernon lost tens of millions of dollars in federal funds in 2010 because of a low count. We cannot let that happen again! Make sure you respond to the Census and encourage everyone you know to do likewise!

MVUT witl be working with the County Executive’s Office on special Census Tablets. We currently have them and people can come to our office to complete the nine (9) brief questions and be COUNTED! Call the office for information, and/or to make an appointment. Let others know as well!

Hispanic Outreach 

While MVUT has always provided its services to all tenants in Westchester, the lack of a Spanish-speaking staff person has severely limited our ability to assist Spanish-speaking tenants who are a growing percentage of our population. A new grant from the city is going to permit us to hire a Spanish-speaking organizer/advocate who will assist us in finally being able to provide the full complement of our services to the Spanish-speaking tenants of Mount Vernon and Westchester. We’re very excited about this additional service capability and are looking to begin this during the summer months.  Stay tuned !

$$$ for MVUT

Just as we’ve not written to you in a while, we’ve likewise not asked you for money in a while. This pandemic has really hurt our fundraising efforts and put real strains on our limited budget. As you can see from the above, MVUT is still producing for all tenants. Just think of the savings if you’re a rent-stabilized tenant, and your lease expires between 10/1/2020 – 9/30/21 — two (2) full years with NO increase! Please fill out the attached and mail as large a donation as possible.  Thank you!!

Covid-19

Please be careful and stay safe 
Always wear a mask when you go out.
Honor Social distancing (6 feet)
Wash your hands regularly!

SUPPORT MVUT!!

Yes, I recognize the value of MVUT’s work.  Enclosed please find my contribution of

___$25   ___$50   ____$100  ____$250   ____Other Among

Name:
Address:
Telephone:
Email:

Sincerely,

Dennis Hanratty
Executive Director
Mt. Vernon United Tenants
(914) 699-1114

Early July 2020 News and Update

Petition for Right to Counsel, and Contact Info For Legislators

Two (2) Important Early December 2019 Events

MVUT’s Annual “Holiday Gathering” Friday Dec 6 at 6:00pm 

Were hoping that many of you come to the office and join with other members and staff in celebrating another year of huge victories (the rent legislation – WOW! and our continued success in preventing evictions and improving services for all tenants!) Please plan to bring a dish with you if you come, or alternatively, make a donation to MVUT to help defray expenses. We’re enclosing a self-addressed envelope for your convenience. Thank you.
 

Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) Legislative Breakfast – Friday Dec 13 

Each year MVUT organizes this Legislative Breakfast for the six (6) local groups who get funded under the New York State Neighborhood Preservation Program (NYS-NPP). We’ll meet with the Westchester Delegation (Senators and Assemblymembers) of the New York State Legislature to remind them of the great work that each of the six (6) individual Neighborhood Preservation Companies (NPCs) does in their respective neighborhoods, and why the State should increase funding for the NPP. This is the start of our State Legislative Campaign.

We’ll also be organizing the Westchester bus to Albany for NPP Legislative Advocacy Day on Wednesday March 11, 2020. Mark your calendars to “Get on the Bus”! ! 

Hope to see you on Friday December 6 and please support us financially. Happy Holidays!! 

Download December Mailing and Holiday Gathering Flyer 

Mid-November 2019 “News & Update” 

1) Westchester County Board of Legislators (W-BOL) Public Hearing 

The Westchester County Board of Legislators (W-BOL) is holding their first 2020 Budget Hearing in Mount Vernon’s Doles Center on Tuesday, November 19 (see enclosed WBOL Hearing Flyer, repeated in the section below.

It’s important that tenants come to the Public Hearing in support of Mt. Vernon United Tenants (MVUT). Westchester dollars that go to MVUT are probably the most cost-effective investment that the County makes. MVUT stops over one hundred and fifty (150) evictions every year. We save the county oodles of money by keeping people out of the extremely expensive (over $4,000 a month) emergency shelter system. To be cost effective at the amount the W-BOL has normally provided us ($25,000.00) we’d only have to stop one (1) eviction a year. The reality is that not every family whose eviction we prevent would end up in the emergency shelter system but surely at least

10% would. You can do the math yourself. The savings are immense. Tell the W-BOL – “Invest in MVUT and help Westchester County save more money, and help keep people in their permanent homes!”   We’re also asking the W-BOL to fund a “Grassroots Educational Campaign” to educate tenants about their newly-won rights from this past legislative session in which MVUT played a key role. Come to this Public Hearing, testify for MVUT, and help us become even more effective! 

More info on: Westchester County Board Of Legislators (W-BOL) Public Hearing about the 2020 County Budget 

Date: Tuesday November 19
Time: 7:00 pm (6:15pm sign-up to speak time)
Place: The Doles Center
250 South 6th Avenue

MVUT relies upon the W-BOL to support our program efforts. Lyndon Williams is the County Legislator who represents Mt. Vernon on the W BOL. It’ important for Lyndon and all of the other sixteen (16) members of the W-BOL to hear from MVUT members and friends about the effectiveness of our program efforts, e.g. preventing evictions and keeping people in their permanent apartments, helping re-house homeless people and tenants at-risk of homelessness; fighting for improved services and more affordable rents; organizing tenants and teaching them their rights – this is especially important as the state legislature passed a whole bunch of great improvements in the state rent laws this spring but most tenants are unaware of those improvements. MVUT should be funded to do a “Grassroots Education Campaign” to educate tenants about their newly won rights. As the saying goes “these rights aren’t worth the paper they’re written on if people don’t know about them.” MVUT is committed to do just that – educate all rent stabilized tenants! Our ask to the W-BOL: 

1) Continue funding our successful Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) $25,000 – $35,000 

2) Fund MVUT’S grassroots educational campaign re: the new and improved State Rent Laws (approx. $50,000) 

We’d like many tenants to come and speak on behalf of MVUT, i.e. how effective our programs are, and the need for increased funding to help MVUT serve even more tenants – not only in Mt. Vernon, but throughout  the county.   Call the MVUT Office (914) 699-1114 x303 with any questions or to discuss your testimony. 


2) CENSUS 2020 

MVUT continues its work on both the Mt. Vernon and Westchester County “Complete Count Committees”. As we previously told you the 2020 Census will allocate $675 BILLION!! We must make sure that Mt. Vernon and Westchester get their “Fair Share”, i.e. we must make sure that every resident gets counted! We just met with the Mount Vernon Complete Count Committee on Tuesday, November 12 and we’ll be meeting with the Westchester Complete Count Committee on Thursday, November 14.

Things will get real busy as we move into the new year. Lots of good people are engaged in this campaign and we’re asking all of our members and friends to encourage everyone they know to help identify “Hard to Reach” residents and let them know that there is nothing to fear from participating in the Census. We’re enclosing a United States Census 2020 two-sided flyer “How the 2020 Census will invite everyone to respond”!


3) Holiday Gathering MVUT  – Friday, December 6th at 6:30 PM

MVUT will hold its annual “Holiday Gathering” on Friday December 6 at 6:30 pm in our office at 2 Gramatan Avenue. Everyone is welcome and we ask that people bring a dish to share that evening or make a donation to MVUT to help defray the cost. We’ll have a flyer in the next mailing.


4) Neighborhood Preservation Coalition (NPC) “Legislative Breakfast” 

MVUT annually organizes a “LEGISLATIVE BREAKFAST”” for the six (6) Neighborhood Preservation Companies (NPCS) in Westchester who receive funding under the State Neighborhood Preservation Coalition. We normally hold the Breakfast in one of Westhab’s new buildings for low to moderate income tenants. We invite all of the State Legislators (Senators and Assemblymembers) who represent areas in Westchester. This is the beginning of the State Budget Process and we work to educate our State Legislators about the value that all of the sex (6) groups bring to their respective neighborhoods.

 

5) Know Your Rights: New Rent Laws   (Download Know Your Right Event Flyer)

In June 2019, New York State enacted legislation establishing the strongest protections for renters in at least a generation. At this forum you will learn about these laws and get answers to your questions. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
New Rochelle Public Library
One Library Plaza
New Rochelle, NY 

Presenters: Jill Bradshaw-Soto, Esq., Attorney-in-Charge of LSHV Mt. Vernon Office Michelle Avery, Esq., Staff Attorney 

RSVP to ESantiago [at] LSHV.org or call (914) 813-6881 

On site Intake opportunities.
Light refreshments and snacks will be available. 

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
Protecting Rights- Promoting Justice 

Support Tenants Rights! 

Support Affordable Housing!! 

Support MVUT!!! 


Mt.  Vernon United Tenants, Inc.
Mail: P. O. Box 2107
Office: 2 Gramatan Avenue – Suite 304
Mt Vernon, N. Y. 10551 

Phone (914) 699-1114 – Fax (914) 699-7449
Email: mvut [at] erols.com
Website: www.mvut.org 

Download Mid-Nov 2019 News and Update