Mayor Bloomberg appointed Legal Aid attorney Adriene Holder to fill the vacant seat on the Rent Guidelines Board last Tuesday (despite predictions of other candidates reported in last week’s City Limits Weekly [“He’s Back, Too?” May 6]). Given the title just two hours before the board was scheduled to take its preliminary vote on new rent guidelines for the city’s 1 million rent-regulated apartments, Holder asked the mayor to postpone the meeting to give her time to review the latest data on rent stabilized housing and to read recent tenant and landlord testimony on the matter. Mayor Bloomberg obliged, and rescheduled the preliminary vote for Monday, May 20. The board will take its final vote on June 27.
Holder is no stranger to tenant issues. A lawyer at the Legal Aid Society since 1991, she has worked on the case battling community service requirements for public housing residents, and she is currently defending Section 8 tenants who claim the Housing Authority took too long to help them relocate after their landlord lost his federal funding for keeping his building in constant disrepair.
As for her position as a member of the RGB–a post she describes as worthy of “congratulations and condolences”–she said she is continuing to review the material and has yet to decide what kind of rent increase, if any, she supports. But, she added, noting a rise in landlord profits and a drop in expenses, “If tenants don’t get a break this year, I don’t know when they ever will.”
A longtime leader in the city’s settlement house movement will step down from her post this summer. Emily Menlo Marks has decided to retire after 14-and-a-half years at the helm of United Neighborhood Houses, an umbrella group of 36 community centers across the city. At the age of 65, she said, there are other things–like her three grandchildren–on which she would like to refocus some of her energy.
She will not, however, stray far from her work advocating for better youth services and child care. “I want to continue to be involved in the things that I care about,” she said, noting that she hopes to work part-time offering management assistance to some of New York’s nonprofits.
Exactly when she will pack up her office is unclear: The UNH board is currently conducting a search for a new executive director, and Marks said she will stay on until that person is hired.
Meanwhile, UNH plans to honor Marks at its annual meeting on June 3 at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House.