Mid-March 2022 News and Updates

Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

MVUT continues to assist tenants who have fallen behind in rent due to either a loss of income, or an increase in expenses due to Covid-19. As of this writing we’ve helped submit over 250 ERAP applications and assisted in another nearly 200 cases with uploading various documents in their ERAP applications. Despite news to the contrary, we’re still processing ERAP applications.  lf you know of tenants who you think may be eligible for ERAP assistance, have them call Andrew Aguilar at (914) 699-1114 Extension 304.

Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP)

Great news from the State legislature as both the Senate and the Assembly increased funding for the NPP in their respective “one house” bills, from $12.8 million to $14.5 million! The NPP is MVUTs largest funding source and provides us with a large portion of our operative expenses.  We’d ask that our members and friends call their respective Senator and Assemblymember and thank them for their support for increased funding for the NPP, and for their continued support in negotiations with the governor in the final bill. To find further information and notify your Senator and Assemblymember you can go to the Neiehborhood Preservation Coalition’s (NPC) website at NPCNYS.ORG/advocacv/contact-your-legislator   For Mt Vernon tenants your State legislators are Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (914) 667-0127 and Senator Jamaal Bowman (718) 547-8854. CALL TODAY !

Ending of Pandemic

We’re hopeful that the Covid-19 pandemic may be winding down. The pandemic seriously impacted our programs at MVUT. Prior to the pandemic, MVUT would host monthly General Membership meetings in our office at 7:0opm on the first Tuesday of each month.  At those monthly membership meetings we’d go over problems that individual tenants were experiencing, building-wide issues affecting tenants, policy issues MVUT is dealing with and announcements of upcoming events regarding housing and issues impacting low-to moderate income residents. We’d like to try to re-start our monthly general Membership Meetings on April 5. We’ll sending an announcement specifically regarding this meeting, but please mark your calendars and try to attend. Depending upon attendance and participation, we’ll decide whether to continue “in-person” meetings at this time.

Another issue that the pandemic severely impacted and limited was our building organizing. “Organizing the Unorganized” has always been a hallmark of our program delivery services. We’ve always felt that an
organized and educated tenancy is the best defense against landlord abuse and official neglect. It’s of paramount importance for all tenants to know their rights, how to utilize them and what steps to take to satisfy their objectives.  Through our building organizing, we assist tenants within buildings to learn their rights and form effective Building Associations to improve their conditions, lessen landlord harassment and possibly reduce their rent. Similar to the General Membership meetings in our office, tenants for the most part have not wanted to meet, even within buildings, during the pandemic. We’re hopeful that as we start to leave the pandemic behind, that we can get back to scheduling Building organizing meetings to address some of the growing needs that tenants are facing.  Please call the office at (914) 699-1 114 if you’d like to schedule a meeting in your building.

Right to Counsel (RTC)

MVUT has been working on getting a “Right To Counsel” bill on both the county and state levels. We encourage our members and friends to support both campaigns by calling your respective county and state legislators and lobbying them to support the respective bills.  Under the Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) piece above, we provide contact information about the state legislators. On the county level Mt. Vernon Tenants should call Tyrae Woodson-Samuels (914) 995-2837.  For others, you should call the League of Women Voters (914) 949-0507 to find out who your County Legislator is. On the State level MVUT has helped secure co-sponsorship by virtually all of the Westchester Legislative Delegation on the statewide Right to Counsel bill (S6678A/A7570B). We’re enclosing a one-page Fact Sheet of ‘The potential benefits and estimated cost of an eviction Right to Counsel outside of New York City.” Feel free to copy this Fact Sheet and get it to others in your building, or if your need more call the MVUT office at (914 )699-1114.

On the reverse side of the “Right to Counsel” Fact Sheet we’ve copied a February 22,2022 Journal News Article ‘Rents in U.S. Reach Insane Levels.”‘ We certainly agree!!!

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Please support MVUT with a generous contribution at this time. Thank you.

I appreciate all of the valuable work MVUT is doing for tenants!!  I’m enclosing my donation of $25 / $50 / $100 / $200 / Other

Name:
Address:
Telephone:

Email:

Mail to: Mt. Vernon United Tenants, P.O.Box 2107, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551

SUPPORT TENANTS’ RIGHTS!
SUPPORT AFFORDABLE HOUSING I !
SUPPORT MVUT!!!

Download MVUT Mid March 2022 Mailing (PDF)

The Potential Benefits and Estimated Cost of an Eviction Right to Counsel Outside of New York City

FACT SHEET:  The Potential Benefits and Estimated Cost of an Eviction Right to Counsel Outside of New York City

Statewide Right to Counsel (S.6678A/A7570B) ) strengthens Right to Counsel in New York City and guarantees the right to a free lawyer to ALL tenants facing eviction across New York State.  To estimate the total cost of a statewide Right to Counsel, we worked with Stout to produce an analysis of the cost associated with providing free legal representation for tenants outside New York City. Combining the outside New york City cost estimate with an updated cost estimate for an expanded Right to Counsel in New York City gets us to the total statewide cost- Our estimated minimum total cost of providing Right to Counsel to tenants statewide is on our website at https://www.righttocounselnyc.org/statewidertccost

Once enacted into law, statewide Right to Counsel will be phased over seyeral years. The benefits and cost of Right to Counsel outside New York City included in this fact sheet would happen at full implementation. For the complete cost analysis and more research on the benefits of Right to Counsel outside New York City, read the full report at: bit.ly/RTCCostStudyOutsideNYC 

BENEFITS

Approximately 46,600 tenant households outside New York City would receive legal representation under a statewide eviction Right to Counsel.

Approximately 97% of tenants who appear in eviction court would benefit from Right to Counsel. With dedicated funding to community organizing and outreach, the percentage of tenants that accept free legal representation will likely be closer to 100%.

Right to Counsel makes it harder for landlords to use evictions as a tactic to harass and displace tenants. Implementations of a statewide eviction Right to Counsel could decrease eviction filings outside New York City by at least 19% (over 5 years at an annual decline of 5%, starting in year 2). Eviction filings may decrease more (such as in New York City where they dropped by 30%, or less depending on the effectiveness of implementation and the state’s commitment to tenant organizing and outreach about the Right to Counsel.

When a tenant doesn’t appear in court, the judge can issue a default judgment, which allows the court to issue an eviction warrant. A statewide eviction Right to Counsel would reduce the number of default judgments outside New York City, with an expected 32% decline in default rates.

lmplementing a statewide eviction Right to Counsel would likely save New York state and local governments millions of public dollars (over and above the cost of providing the Right) that would otherwise be spent on shelter, emergency room costs, homelessness services, and more. Like most cities and states with an eviction Right to Counsel, New York State could see cost savings of $3 – $6 per dollar invested in Right to Counsel.  For example, Stout estimated that Baltimore could save $3.06 per dollar and the state of Maryland could see cost savings of $6.24 per dollar (Baltimore City plus Maryland), from the same investment in an eviction Right to Counsel.

COST

$144 million – $20o million is the estimated cost of providing an eviction Right to counsel to ALL tenants (with no income restrictions) outside New York City.

Mid-February 2022 “News & Update”

HAPPY NEW YEAR! A belated greeting to our members and friends. We haven’t reported to you since before then holidays. We’re still busy though, helping to keep tenants in their homes and preparing for significant challenges into 2022.

ERAP – Emergency Rental Assistance Program MVUT has been extremely busy and successful in utilizing the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to secure back rent assistance for tenants who had had a loss of income or additional expenses as a result of Covid-19. MVUT has helped over three hundred (300+) tenants process ERAP applications. We do not have an exact count of successful ERAP applications but we know that a majority of our clients did receive assistance and were able to remain in their apartments. There have been talk and rumors, etc., that ERAP is finished. IT IS NOT! MVUT is still helping tenants submit applications at this time. However, ERAP could end before long. If you, or anyone you know, could be eligible for ERAP, we encourage you to contact MVUT ASAP. Call Andrew at (914) 699-1114 x 304.

EVICTION MORATORIUM For most of 2021 there was an EVICTION MORATORIUM in effect for tenants who had filled out and submitted a “Financial Hardship Declaration” to the court and/or their landlord. MVUT assisted literally hundreds of tenants in filing such “Declarations.” However the moratorium ended January 15, 2022 despite the pleas of MVUT and the broad tenant movement in recognition of the overwhelming, continuing need. We’re expecting that there will be a huge increase in court proceedings against tenants as a result of the ending of the moratorium. We are prepared to push for the re-instatement of the moratorium should the courts become overwhelmed and more and more tenants become homeless. If that happens we ask that you raise your voice as well. We’ll provide information and guidance as needed.

NEIGHBORHOOD PRESERVATION PROGRAM (NPP) The NPP has been MVUT’s largest funding source for years. However, each year we have to fight for funding for the NPP despite the great work that the 133 Neighborhood Preservation Companies (NPCs) do in their economically distressed communities.

Unfortunately the governor proposed funding for the NPPs at the same amount as last year – $12.8 million. We are asking the legislature to add $1.7 million bringing the total to $14.5 million. This would provide each group with at least $100,000.00. The $12.8 million which has been static for a number of years now actually represents a “cut” via inflation. The housing needs of all our neighborhoods continue to increase – often dramatically. Funding should increase as well! We’re also requesting that our statewide coalition be granted a long-overdue increase in funding from $150,000 to $250,000.

We’re enclosing a copy of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of New York State “2022 Legislative Advocacy Agenda”. We’re also enclosing a two-sided flyer describing the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition and tallying some of the impacts of the numerous member “companies.” We’d ask that all of our members and friends reach out to their State Senator and State Assemblyperson and push them t support to the NPC/NYS Legislative Advocacy Agenda both requesting additional funding and their support for two (2) important bills – Right To Counsel (Bills S06678, A 07570) and Good Cause Eviction (Bills S03082, A05573).

For Mt. Vernon tenants your legislators are:

Senator Jamaal Bailey – Room 707 Legislative Office Building Albany, NY 12247 (518) 455-2061, (718) 547-8854 BAILEY@NYSENATE. GOV
Assemblyman Gary Pretlow-Room 845 Legislative Office Building Albany, NY 12248 (518) 455-5291, (914) 667-0127 PRETLOJ@ NYSASSEMBLY.GOV

If you live elsewhere call the League of Women Voters (194) 949-0507 for your Senator and Assemblyperson info. Please make those calls and send letters or emails. If you have questions, call the MVUT office at (914) 699-1114.

We’re also enclosing another two-sided flyer from Westchester County “Help is Available” for back rent and heat and utilities.  As for back rent, most tenants know they can also contact MVUT! Let your neighbors know too.

Support Tenants’ Rights!
Support Affordable Housing!!
Support MVUT!!!

Download MVUT Mid-Feb22 News and Update (PDF)
Download Rent Assistance Flyer (PDF)
Download NPC Fact Sheet (PDF)
Download NPC Legislative Agenda 2022 (PDF)