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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park Low Income Residents Speak Up For Affordable Housing At Town Hall Meeting - "Who's Going To Help Us, Who's Going To Stand Up For Us" They Ask Local Elected Officials

2-4 River Road is the affordable housing component of the Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park buildings complex with many elderly and low income residents.

During the June 28 Roosevelt Island Town Hall meeting with elected officials (full video of Town Hall here), Manhattan Park 2-4 River Road residents expressed frustration at being ignored by the Manhattan Park building management and local politicians.

After a discussion about Westview building privatization and affordability plan, a 2-4 River Road Manhattan Park resident grabbed the attention of those attending the Town Hall by saying:
 ... we are affordable housing also and they haven't told us if they are going to renew the contract with HUD which will keep us affordable. Also they discriminate against us all the time. They have submetering, they are profiting off the submetering and it seems like no one will help us....

.... Our voices are not being heard, maybe because we are labeled as just low income tenants so they don't care about us. But we're working class people too that also live on Roosevelt Island for decades and it is not fair that we constantly get ignored on Roosevelt Island. We matter too. Our children matter too. Our families matter too.
About the Manhattan Park Management it was said:
 ... They do not recognize us as part of their complex....

... They don't even call us Manhattan Park. They won't let us form a tenants association.

Last week they had a tenants appreciation barbecue and they didn't even invite us. I put up a sign in the Hallway/lobby telling everyone to come and they ripped the signs down and finally decided to invite us to the Tenant Appreciation Barbecue the day before and that's only because I made the tenants of Northtown Phase 2 aware that there was a Tenants Appreciation Day..

Who's going to help us? Who's going to stand up for us?....

Following the Town Hall meeting, Roosevelt Island elected officials offered to provide assistance to the 2-4 River Road Manhattan Park residents.

Last week, I asked 2-4 River Road Tenant Leader Association Board Member Eneaqua Lewis:
Is there any update and did the elected officials get back to you on these issues? Kallos, Serrano, Seawright?
Ms Lewis replied:
The only elected official that contacted me was from Senator Serrano’s office. They have been very helpful. Also democratic leaders from the Four Freedoms Democratic club contacted me, Ben Wetzler and Lauren Trapanotto. Ben is helping me start a complaint against MP management.

MP tried to shut us down because they said they didn’t consider us a “Real TA”. We provided them with paperwork proving we were members of the National Association of HUD Tenants. They then permitted us to have the community room for July 17. MP hasn’t confirmed whether they will show up to answer our questions.

Several tenants on our board have been harassed by MP, including but not limited to having our renewal leases denied or put on hold. At the Town Hall meeting a tenant of MP told me that MP routinely tries to deny giving a lease to anyone who participated in TA’s. As far as I know MP doesn’t have a TA besides 2-4 TA.
According to 76 Assembly District Democratic Party District Leader Ben Wetzler:
This is an extremely frustrating instance of harassment. The management company is clearly in the wrong, and by targeting a new tenants' association they are trying to strip residents of their right to address safety and affordability questions in the future. But the worst part is the tenants at 2 and 4 River Road are having to deal with all the stress of this at home while trying to navigate the bureaucracy without much help. I've been trying to put them in touch with an attorney in case they need to go to court over any of the lease issues and I understand Senator Serrano's office got involved as soon as he heard about what was happening, but there really needs to be a more straightforward way to handle these and a place they can go for support.
In response to my inquiry a Manhattan Park Spokesperson said:
Submetering Update: “As we’ve stated in the past, Manhattan Park purchases electricity from Con Edison at a bulk reduced rate that we pass through to the residents of 2-4 River Road, without any additional charges. Electricity prices are set by the utility provider and rates fluctuate, but the fact is that we are in complete compliance with all Public Service Commission regulations. Furthermore, residents in the affordable units receive a flat monthly utility allowance set annually by HUD based on consumption of the prior year, which often exceeds their energy consumption.”

Tenant Association Concerns: “Manhattan Park management has recognized a tenant association for 2-4 River Road and has provided the opportunity for a public meeting to take place in common space on the property.”

Tenant Appreciation Day: “All Manhattan Park residents, including those at 2-4 River Road, were invited to the Tenant Appreciation Day and in fact many residents from the property in question attended the event. Notices were posted in every building throughout the complex with significant notice.”
Will update when more info available.