Last night Cea and I proceeded to have a building meeting at 602 W 139 Street after a menacing conversation with “Ralph”.
About 25 minutes into our meeting, a gruff looking man with a lot gel in his hair (presumably “Ralph”) interrupted the meeting to let us know that Cea and I had no legal right to be in the building.
After handing “Ralph” the law which says that we do in fact have the right to organize, he continued to insist (without even looking at the paper) that we were illegal intruders, and he proceeded to call the cops.
Cea and I politely encouraged him to do so, and handed out more copies of the law to the tenants.
Apparently this pesky “Ralph” is also the Missing-In-Action super for the building – and tenants hilariously used this opportunity to recommend that he make more repairs. This was followed by a bout of shouting, and then…
The cops arrived.
This was followed by a polite conversation in which Cea and I informed them of the law, handed them a copy of it, and explained that we were invited into the building for this meeting. Tenants agreed and explained that we were invited guests. The policeman asked “Ralph” if he had seen a copy of this law and “Ralph” of course said no. The policeman turned to the tenant’s and said “this guy really shouldn’t be giving you a hard time”, and “Ralph” sauntered away quietly.
Not that I’m keeping score or anything, but as of yesterday it looks like: Tenants: 1 Management: 0
Wondering what it looks like to protest New York Community Bank? One week ago, tenants from all over New York City showed up outside of the NYCB annual shareholders meeting. They demanded that the bank practice more responsible lending. One tenant who was in attendance lives with her husband and two daughters in a NYCB building that was recently destroyed by an electrical fire. NYCB is demanding $1.1M for the incredibly distressed property. ”I’m here because this is our life,” she said.
While we took this video and chanted with tenants outside, our allies at Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition and National People’s Action brought tenants inside the shareholder’s meeting to directly appeal to the NYCB executives and shareholders. They were denied the opportunity to speak at the meeting. Thanks to Amanda, we have a video of what happened inside.
By 10 AM this morning, at least 80 tenants and advocates from distressed buildings all over New York were already blue in the face, protesting New York Community Bank’s irresponsible lending practices at their annual shareholder meeting in Queens.
We asked shareholders to intervene, and tell NYCB to stop selling loans to irresponsible landlords, adhere to sound underwriting standards, and sell loans to responsible landlords who promise to maintain buildings in safe and decent condition.
Shareholder’s got this flyer:
Despite the fact that the police were out in full force, and the hotel tried to create a wall of vehicles between the tenants and the shareholders, the tenants prevailed. Not only did a group of us interrupt the shareholder’s meeting to discuss the issue and say a prayer (before we were escorted outside), but we chanted outside the hotel for almost two hours – causing a very peaceful raucous. This is what it looked like:
Let’s hope that as the weekend approaches, NYCB reconsiders its lending practices and decides to proceed in a responsible way. If not, I guess we’ll be back soon.
Many thanks to all of the wonderful tenants and activists who came out today. Big ups to all the folks at: ANHD, Tenants and Neighbors, Pratt Area Community Council, North West Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, and Community Action for Safe Apartments!
Van Cortlandt Village
In the latest in a series of note sales on distressed properties by New York Community Bank, it has unloaded the mortgage on three foreclosed Bronx buildings riddled with code violations, and once again drawn the ire of city officials, politicians and housing advocates.
Read more at Crain’s New York Business