Happy Friday, almost-Memorial Day and 3-Day Weekend!
- The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the immigration bill on Tuesday evening. After many days of revision and negotiation, the bill passed 13 to 5. Of the 300 amendments offered to the immigration bill, the committee debated more than 200. While gaining the Senate Judiciary Committee approval is instrumental in passing the bill into law, the newest version omits integral reforms, including support for bi-national same-sex relationships. The bill will be debated on the Senate floor starting in early June. Stay tuned for more updates!
- On Wednesday, 50 people gathered for a rally in Williamsburg, denouncing Mayor Bloomberg and his administration’s lack of progress in creating affordable housing. Eight years ago, the city signed an inclusionary zoning agreement that would set aside 3,500 units for affordable housing in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Since making that agreement, less than a quarter have been built. With housing prices rapidly increasing, longterm residents are worried that new landlords will force them out with exorbitant rent. While this is illegal in rent stabilized units, landlord want to avoid defaulting on their loan as well as make a profit will likely resort to un-kosher tactics. As a new mayor takes office, we hope that they will follow through on Bloomberg’s initial promise.
- Tenants of 1469 5th Avenue also gathered for a protest this week, demanding that their new owner stop harassing residents. Two months ago, Liberty Place Property Management (LPPM) bought their property as well as five other rent-stabilized buildings in Harlem and the South Bronx. Soon thereafter, the management company began demanding that residents provide documentation of citizenship and employment, and failure to comply would result in an eviction. However, this is illegal — rent-stabilized tenants that have a lease are not required to show proof of citizenship, identification, or even income information to a landlord. We stand with the tenants of 1469 5th Avenue as well as other tenants that are experiencing harassment from LPPM!
- A tour company that promised sightseers a glimpse of NYC’s “ghetto” has been shutdown this week. Real Bronx Tours, a company popular with European tourists, brought folks to the South Bronx to give them an inside look at poverty, including soup-kitchen lines, housing projects, and a “pick-pock hang-out” spot. This vantage point severely misrepresents the neighborhood by recuperating the borough’s darkest history, while failing to accurately illustrate the progress that’s been made. On Monday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito wrote an open letter to the company, demanding that they stop mis-portraying the borough and profiting from residents’ suffering. Since then, the company has canceled their tours and their website is no-longer accessible!
Have a fantastic, long, relaxing weekend!!