Thursday, August 20, 2009

Roosevelt Island Mitchell Lama Westview Residents To Receive 14% Rent Hike While Rest Of NYC Apartment Rents Going Down - Does That Make Any Sense?

Image of Westview From Corrections History

While many New York City residents are receiving reductions in their rent due to the recession and poor economy, Roosevelt Island residents of the Mitchell Lama Westview building have just been informed that they are to be paying higher rents to stay in their apartments.

A reader of this post sends the following message regarding Westview rent increase:
I am a long time Resident of Westview.

People on this Island need to know about the fight we have here trying to preserve "affordable" housing here on R.I, the very reason this Island came to be in terms of residential buildings back in 1976.

Westview is still under the Mitchell Lama system and was thinking of doing a conversion, but it fell through. That was due in part to the last Greedy Landlord and potential new owner.

We now face a 14% rent hike by 9/1/09.

The last rent hike we paid never brought us the things it was supposed to like new elevators, etc.

The conditon of our Buildings continue to worsen, we have 360 apartments and our rents are almost 1,000 for a Studio, 1200, for a one bedroom, etc.

Westview is the MOST EXPENSIVE M/L Building in the entire State of NY.

The illegalities and conflict of interests are mind- boggling.

I want to know how it is Legal in NYS for the Head of DHCR to also be the Head of RIOC- our so-called "Public Benefit Corporation".

The Head of RIOC in her rhetoric implored us last year on 8/13/08 at the BRD that "affordability" was very important to them and DHCR.

Now, a year later, it all goes out the window.

The new owners are supposedly a "charitble" organizatin that fund Cancer Research and have a shark of a Lawyer representing them.

All kinds of rules have been broken in Westview, in terms of breaking M/L rules, NO Warehousing is allowed Ever. That is why we have internal and external lists.

There are tons of illegal subletters here, residents with primary residences in other states- those are grounds for getting kicked out of the Building.

The Task Force does continue to fight for the Tenants, but most tenants don't know what they are doing and that has been going on for awhile now.

There was a time on this Island when major news about the "WIRE" Buildings was reported on in the Wire, now, you never see anything on Eastwood- who is fighting sub-metering, Island House, who had a rent hike shoved on them in the Winter and now Westview.

All of this needs to be out in the open and transparent again.

There are lots of tenants in Westview, whose rents have kept the Buildings standing since it went up, who now stand to lose their homes.
Roosevelt Island's representative on the NYC Council Jessica Lappin comments:
I disagree with DHCR's decision to increase rents for Westview. I have urged DHCR to deny Westview any increase in rent and will continue to oppose any future rental increases. I am disappointed by the news, and am worried about the hardship and difficulty this increase will cause.
This past July, Roosevelt Island's elected officials including Ms. Lappin, Assembly Member Kellner, State Senator Serrano and Borough President Stringer sent a strongly worded letter to DHCR Commissioner Van Amerongen stating:
... we believe that granting any significant rent increase at Westview would be destructive of the tenants’ efforts to negotiate a fair and reasonable conversion agreement with the owners, as well as of DHCR’s own stated goal of preserving affordability in the building. Moreover, we are concerned that the owners’ initial request for an extraordinarily high rent increase may have been intended to prejudice these ongoing negotiations. We believe that any increase would be unjustified, given the owners’ failure to implement energy efficiency measures in the building, to refinance the building’s mortgage, or to make proper use of funds raised by previous rent increases....

... we believe that DHCR should terminate the current BRD without awarding Westview’s owners an unjustifiable rent increase, and start the process anew....
Apparently DHCR Commissioner Van Amerongen did not heed this advice.

More on Westview, affordable housing and Mitchell Lama from earlier posts.

The Westview Task Force web site is here.


Anonymous said...

"Hardship and difficulties"? I know quite a few Westview residents and they all can afford a 14% rent increase easily. The household income requirements for an apartment in Island House or Westview are so lenient and the rents are still on the low side considering the size of the apartments compared to the market rate apartments on Roosevelt Island.

I am on the waiting list to get into one of the buildings and the only motivation is to save money on rent (not because it's the only way I can afford an apartment). Now I will save a little less but will still save some.

Anonymous said...

Subsidized housing for middle class families is somehow a funny thing. The rents at Westview and Island House are not really "cheap" and for the same price you can have a decent life a little farther away from Manhattan (most places in the outer boroughs or even all the way uptown in Manhattan). Is having a place close to Manhattan as much a right as affordable housing in general is? Not sure about this.

Anonymous said...

To the first commenter, you are not obviously a long term Westview Resident...

I am and there are ALOT of us here that cannot afford the RENT HIKE.

Our being in this building for over 25 years, has let other people come in!!!

The income guidelines are not lenient" as you put it, they are strict and if you earn too much income, you pay a Surcharge.

Westview has been here way longer than any so-called "Market apartments".

This Island was conceived in 1968 under the Rockefeller Admin., Ed Logue, thought it was a good idea that MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKING CLASS Families livng and working in the City of NY had a "safe, affordable" place to live.

The Island was pretty desolate for a long while, there were two city Hospitals here- Goldwater to the South- past the Tram and Coler to the North -near the Lighthouse.

We have a GDP- "General Development Plan" for "Northtown Phase III, which our buildings are classified are under, that has to follow rules and regulations to keep Westview "affordable" for middle class and working class people.

I have no idea what building you reside in.

Our Task Force has been fighting for years to do an affordable Conversion for the tenants that have been in this Building for a long time and to protect renters.

You will have a long wait, we have a five year or more waiting list.

Most long term residents of Westview are not planning on leaving.

Why should we?

We were here when there when no Subway was here, we were the Newest building of the original buildings, we had an empty field right next to us.

We have every right to fight for our homes.

We remember the days when the Upper East siders, et. al, were snickering over Roosevelt Island, etc.

You cannot know that many people here, or you wouldn't be able to say that.

I guess you don't know how bad the Economy is right now.

Or that NYC just surpassed the National Unemployment rate.

We also have quite a few people in our Buildings who are disabled and on fixed incomes.

Good luck with your wait.

This Island always banded together, that is the Wire Buildings, Eastwood-now "Roosevelt Landings, Island House, Westview and Rivercross to fight together.

You have no idea what kind of Community we used to have here.

Anonymous said...

With leniency I meant that the upper limit of household income is rather high (well in the six digits for a family of four, for example).

I agree with the fact that you should be allowed to fight for your home. The truth in this country, though, is that housing is just another aspect of the market economy. You have no right to pick and choose where you want to live unless you can afford it. That goes straight into the heart of capitalism.

To be honest, just because you've lived here for 25 years is not giving you any extra rights. What's happening here on RI is called gentrification and is what NYC makes NYC nowadays. There are plenty of very nice neighborhoods that are still affordable, just not as close to Manhattan as Roosevelt Island. Fact of life.

PS, I have been living here on RI for many years now and happen to know a good number of people living in all kinds of buildings. Nobody likes rent increases but I really doubt that it will be such a hardship as it is being portrayed here.

Anonymous said...

You are obviously not a New York City born and raised person, I am.

Gentrification has been going on for the last twenty five years or more and not just "nowadays"!!!

I didn't say it gave us extra rights, but we have been in the building for that long or longer.

The Truth of the Country right now in terms of Ecomonics is that is a MESS, it is the worst Economic downturn since the Great Depression.

I guess you must lucky enough to still have a good paying job with benefits.

Alot of us- Americans have not been so lucky.

Again, you didn't read the whole response, there are Rules and Regulations and Laws that govern the Mitchell Lama System.

I am taking a guess- are you in Manhattan Park?

There are not many or any affordable neighborhoods in NYC, believe me, we have looked around.

We are concerned with safety issues and we happen to like our Community and neighbors and the sense of a small town that we used to have.

It will be a hardship for some of us and that is why we had our Politicians writing letters to the head of DHCR, etc.

You sound like a total idiot.

Anonymous said...

Ah, "total idiot". I get you. Keep the name calling coming. I stand by my opinion. Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, not sure what to say.

You stand by your opinion, so do I.

I don't believe you have lived on this Island very long.

I also hope you never face the Economic hardship that some of us are facing with the rent hike, loss of a job, loss of savings, etc.

I am not into going and back and forth with name calling.

I posted a long post the other day, as I felt it had to be aired.

The Blogger did an excellent job with the headline and connecting other posts here concerning Westview.

I guess you didn't read those.

Good Luck to you and your very long wait to get into Westview or if and when some of us leave, I pray to God you don't get one of the better apartments.

Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

"Pray to God"? Wow, you really keep it coming, don't you? Maybe we both will be neighbors and have a talk about this over a beer.

Anonymous said...


LOL- Could be, you never know.

I am sorry, I am passionate about my "home" building.

You have a right to get whatever apt. you can get here on RI, be it in Westview or wherever.

I am Christian, so I pray, these days more than alot.

I may have to leave my special home island sometime soon.

All I was trying to get across, was the facts and so many complex issues tied to to WV, the Rent Hike, NYS, DHCR, etc.

I don't know if I will be here by the end of the year for a variety of reasons.

Also- the looming Tram outage will be a mess.

There are no good contingency plans for that, due to start on 3/1

I was here when it was just the WIRE buildings and we were bused to Queensboro Plaza, did not work well then and that is RIOC's contingency plan as far as I know.

Take care in the heat.

Anonymous said...

I am a different poster.

A) The rents would not have increased so dramatically if earlier rent increases had been larger and more frequent. The efforts of WTI to "fight" tooth and nail any increase whatsoever over the past 30 years has drained the building of money needed for major repairs and maintenance. It is all well and good to earmark funds for capital repairs when a budget is approved, but when electric prices (Westview is an all-electric bldg) shoot up after a rent increase is put into place, where do you think the funds come from to pay for it?

B) WTI was very vocal in the past about submetering to save on electric costs. After Eastwood's publicized experience with it, however, WTI has been curiously quiet on the topic.

C) Do you think for a moment that with all the eyes on this rent increase process that DHCR would impose an arbitrary and capricious increase without basis in fact? And as far as this being the most expensive ML in the program, how many MLs have master-metering that includes building-supplied AC's? Aside from next door, none. So don't compare apples and oranges.

D) As far as gratuitous statements by elected politicians go, they know where their votes come from. So they have no problem commiserating and making public pronouncements against every rent increase ever proposed - they do this all the time, with no exceptions. If their pleas were heeded every time, rents in all MLs would now be free. They do not seem to ever get how ignorant they sound when they say these things. Witness the health care debate...

Anonymous said...

10:08am: Bravo. Well thought out posting that was not based on emotions at all. Could somebody throw a graph together that shows rent increases vs cost of living increases vs average income increases over the last 30 years or so? A 14% rent increase is really not that tough to manage even if you are smack in the middle middle class (current economy or not).

Anonymous said...

I am an illegal subletter in Westview. I rent one bedroom in a 3 bedroom apartment, and I pay market price for my bedroom - 1000 dollars a month with very few rights. I am for example not allowed to receive anybody in the apartment, and have to follow rules that the landlady does not follow herself. Me and the other subletter together cover the whole rent for entire apartment, so that the landlady, who obviously has a $100k+ job, lives rent free.

Before moving into this apartment, I have visited a number of rooms available for sublet all in Westview and Eastwood, as well as what is now called Roosevelt Landings I believe. They all charged market price.
I totally understand that people will defend tooth and nails their entitlements and privileges, and I would do the same if I were in the position.
As a taxpayer, I would probably want these apartments to be deregulated, because why would I subsidize people who make as much or much more than I?

Anonymous said...

To the last poster- who is an Illegal subletter in Westview- Get Out- you shouldn't be doing that and the leaseholder should be kicked out.

This is against the Mitchell Lama Rules here!!!

I have been in WV for over 20 + years and we- my family and I have never broken ONE RULE.

If you can afford 1K for one bedroom, get your own apt. in Manhattan Park, or get on the waiting list like alot of other people.

If ever reported all the Illegal subletters, they would be kicked out and these apartments would be open to the people who have been on our waiting list for five years or more.

Stop Whining and Leave.

We are fighting for our to preserve some "affordability". Our WV Task Force is currently suing over the last Rent hike of 14.5%.

Whomever all you illegal Subletters are- you all need to be kicked off the Island.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 10:06 PM who said
"if you can afford 1K for one bedroom, get your own apt. in Manhattan Park."

No apartments at Manhattan Park at 1K. The rent for one bedroom is almost 2K (1.7K) plus extra for electricity. :-(

Anonymous said...

To the last poster,

I am sorry, I know it is very hard here and everywhere in NYC.

I have been trashed here for voicing my opinions after more than 25+ years on this island and residing only in Westview.

We know of too many illegal sublets being done by Residents here in WV, Island House, Eastwood, etc.

The holders of the leases of these apartments that do this, the illegal subletting are at fault, not you.

We, my family and I about over 10 years ago wanted to get a subletter the Legal way, where you report anybody and everybody residing in your apt. on your Yearly "Income Affadavit" form required by any tenant in a ML, i.e. Mitchell Lama building, every April.

All the potential subletters did not want to do it, so we didn't get another roomate, instead, we downsized in apt. size.

I think personally in your case, it is disgusting to read that your landlady so to speak is making you and your other roomate pay the rent and they make 100K.

This Building was conceived for "Middle-Working" Class families.

WV was completed in 1977. That is why we have income guidelines, min. and max.

If a resident makes above a certain amount of income, they are surcharged.

My point is, that these people are taking up apartments originally meant for working-middle class families.

Now, WV over the last 15 years or more has all kinds of transplants from Manhattan Park, etc.

We have an outside waiting list that is at least 3-4 years long.

I have friends in Sloan-Kettering that wanted to move onto R.I., ie.-middle-working class and they cannot. They are native New Yorkers and they should be able to move here.

I know that MH-is expensive.

WV is going through alot right now, we are fighting for our homes here and who knows what will happen.

This Island has been destroyed in so many way for stupidity and GREED on part of NYS, the Landlords, etc.

Eastwood, "Roosevelt Landings" is now a disaster due to a horrible deal done there.

I wish you good Luck.

Douglas said...

If you are an illegal subletter and you pay more than your pro-rata share of the rent then you can sue your "landlady" for HUGE dollars.
You and your other paying roommate can sue for the overage from your pro rata share of the rent times 3.
Let's assume the rent is $1,500 and you and your roommate pay a total of $2,000. You should only pay $1,000 total so you're overpaying by $1K per month. Let's assume further that you've been there 3 years. So you take the 36 months times $1,000 to get $36,000. Then take the $36K number and multiply it by 3 (treble damages). She could EASILY owe you and your roommate more than $100,000. Call the city agency DHCR for more help. Just call as an anonymous phone caller. 866-Ask-DHCR. You aren't breaking any rules by being there it's your landlady who is breaking the rules. I don't know of any rules that prohibit your behavior only rules that prohibit your landlady's behavior. In other words there are no penalties to you for doing what your doing. The overcharge lawsuits are basically free to file and you can get a legal aide rep to help or find a not for profit attorney.
Personally I find it stupid that you are the one who can sue and get the money - the real landlord should be the one who should get the money. But the laws are the laws and most likely you're entitled to huge money.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice, but I have no interest in suing nor extracting money from anybody. I think it is up to the building landlord and the state of NY to make sure that their assets are not being abused. As for me, after I found out what the real deal was, I did not leave, for want of a better alternative. It takes two to tango, and I am as guilty as my landlady if not legally, at least morally: the previous poster is right. If people like me did not knowingly rent from people who violate the law, then the apartment would be available to people who actually qualify for it and play by the rules. Same reasoning applies to drug users: if there were no buyers, there would be no dealers.
This being said, I have to live somewhere... until I can afford that 2K one bedroom and stop living with two strangers and their dogs :>