The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

Friday News Round Up!

This is what happened while we all watched the Olympics:

  1. Travelers looking to avoid expensive and dull hotels can turn to Airbnb to rent unique accommodations on a per-night basis. Its growing popularity has many New Yorkers, looking to earn a few bucks, posting their apartment for “micro” subletting on the website. It’s a great deal – I recently returned from vacation myself and we booked many of our accommodations through Airbnb. The only problem is that in New York it is illegal. State law requires that those living in residential “Class A” dwellings must stay for a term of at least 30 days. The law was initially designed to crack down on slum landlords turning their properties into dirty and dangerous hotels. Read more at The Atlantic Cities.
  2. If you are familiar with New York City Predatory Equity you are familiar with Larry Gluck. This notorious landlord is perhaps most well known for his role in overleveraging the historic Riverton Houses in Harlem, but we have run into him all over Bronx and Brooklyn as well. Gluck has been on a selling spree. Several months ago he sold 111 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg for $56M, and this week he sold 122 unit Stevenson Towers in the Bronx to a private investor who we believe is named Abraham Greenspan. Greenspan paid $14M for this building – $114,000 a unit. Most buildings in the Bronx go for about $70,000 – $90,000 a unit, according to Crain’s NY. The building has a $10M mortgage with J.P. Morgan Chase.
  3. Public employment is on the rise again, after a long and painful decline. However, these numbers exclude public school teachers, whose ranks continue to shrink. Jordan Weissman of The Atlantic suggests that this inconsistency is a hidden casualty of the housing crisis. Property taxes, which disproportionately fund public education, have fallen in the past several years. Read more.
  4. In the wake of Sunday’s attack in Wisconsin, City Comptroller John Liu has called on Mayor Bloomberg to allow Sikh members of the NYPD to wear religious gear. In a letter delivered to the Mayor this morning Liu writes, “Our City can enact meaningful inclusion of this community by changing NYPD rules to allow Sikhs to serve without having to forsake their turbans and beards.” Washington, DC has recently changed their rules to allow religious garb while on duty, and NYC law requires that workplaces foster supportive environments for all religious practices.

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading – and be sure to tune in next week for a guest post from former Surreal Estate and UHAB Organizing employee Elyssa White!

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