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FYI: In the latest round of the battle between Mitchell-Lama tenants and landlords seeking to buy out of the program, the 894 tenants of the Phipps Plaza West apartment complex on Second Avenue between 26th and 29th Streets are suing the owners, alleging that Phipps Houses is trying to back out of an agreement to provide affordable housing until 2011. According to a complaint filed in State Supreme Court in April, Phipps Houses entered a 40-year agreement in 1971 to keep rents down in exchange for tax breaks and other government incentives under the Mitchell-Lama law. Although owners can buy out of the Mitchell-Lama program after 20 years, the tenant association claims that the original 40-year agreement would prevent a buy-out until 2011. The suit, which seeks $1.3 billion in damages in addition to keeping the housing affordable, also says that Phipps Houses misrepresented their intention to convert the apartments to luxury housing when tenants signed leases. [6/20/03]

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