Tenants living in 6 buildings in Ridgewood, Queens are caught in the middle of a complicated foreclosure and bankruptcy case which will determine the future of their homes. While the courts continue to drag out the 5-year-and-counting foreclosure, tenants suffer from horrible living conditions with no one to turn to. Check out Friday’s video from Channel 11 News demonstrating the unsafe living conditions tenants face on a daily basis.
Here are tenants allies and adversaries in the fight for affordable housing preservation:
Steven Kates, Landlord: Mr. Kates is fighting the foreclosure in bankruptcy court. However, he never could be trusted: he lied about the number of units in the 6 buildings to take out an unreasonably large mortgage! Tenants are fighting to make sure that he does not get to keep these buildings.
Stabilis Capital: The original lender, Washington Mutual, collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis. Chase, who took over the failed bank, sold the debt to Stabilis — a private equity company we’ve seen lend on other severely distressed properties. We hope that Stabilis will come to the table to meet with residents and advocates to work out a deal that will benefit tenants and NYC’s affordable housing stock.
CATCH: Tenants have asked CATCH, a nonprofit preservation developer to purchase their buildings, rehab them, and rent them at affordable levels. Tenants want to have a voice in the way their buildings are managed, and CATCH runs buildings they own through “mutual housing,” which ensures resident-input. However, in order for CATCH to buy the buildings, they will have to purchase the note at a discount and wind their way through bankruptcy court.
Elected Officials: Tenants have found a great deal of support from their elected officials, including Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and City Councilwoman Diana Reyna. They hope that through political pressure, Stabilis will discount the mortgage on these six properties (which they likely bought for a discount from Chase) and sell them to CATCH. With the help of Councilwoman Diana Reyna, tenants are asking HPD to remove these buildings from the lien sale list. The liens are a crucial tool that will give the tenants some serious leverage in the bankruptcy case.
Queens Legal Services: Tenants are represented by Queens Legal Services to help make sure that immediate repair needs are met. While the bankruptcy case has made legal matters a little confusing, attorneys are strategizing to get repairs done as soon as possible.
Stay tuned on this exciting fight to preserve affordable housing in Ridegwood, Queens!