TENANTS RENT ON ENDORSEMENTS: Alan Hevesi has been touting himself as the “tenant’s candidate” for mayor ever since he was endorsed by Tenant PAC, a political action committee that focuses on tenants’ rights.
Until a few weeks ago, On August 2, Mark Green might have been able to claim that title, too, care of another affordable housing advocacy group. But then, with one statement, he lost some important support: On August 2, in an extended interview in the New York Times, Green said he favors deregulating apartments whose tenants earn more than $175,000 a year. Put like that, it could mean immediate eviction for the current tenants, and a permanent price hike on that particular apartment thereby diminishing the affordable housing stock.
“I had already written the endorsement for the newsletter,” said Kenny Schaeffer of Metropolitan Council on Housing, a tenant advocacy group with 3,500 members, noting that Green was the first of the mayoral candidates to call for a rent freeze during the Rent Guidelines Board debates this spring. Then the Times piece came out and, recalled Schaeffer, “we needed clarification.”
Green and his staff have since explained to Met Council members that under his plan there would be no evictions, and rents would rise to an established fair market level. Those clarifications have not satisfied some of the group ‘s board members, however, and Met Council is therefore making no endorsement in the primary.
Depending on which candidates from tomorrow’s primary end up in a likely September 25 runoff, however, a Met Council endorsement is still not out of the question. “If it’s Green or Hevesi versus Vallone, we will probably endorse,” said Jenny Laurie, executive director of Met Council, noting the group’s strong disapproval of the City Council Speaker; as council speaker, she noted, Vallone pushed laws weakening rent and lead paint regulations.
If it’s Green v. Hevesi? “I don’t know,” she said. Hevesi is backing a planned omnibus bill in Albany to make the state rent regulation laws more tenant-friendly. But Schaeffer contends that he did not use his post as city comptroller to scrutinize city housing programs like code enforcement.
Meanwhile, Green can at least call himself the “public housing tenant candidate”–last Thursday he picked up the support of the New York City Housing Authority Residents Association, NYCHA’s Council of Presidents, and the Residents District Chairs from every borough but Manhattan.
Anyone interested in boning up on all the mayoral candidates’ positions on affordable housing–well, everyone but Republican Herman Badillo, who declined to participate–can pick up ANHD, Inc.’s “Election 2001: Where They Stand.” Call 212-463-9600.