On December 18, 2009, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Council Member Dan Garodnick, State Senator Tom Duane, staff members from U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s offices, and Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association (ST/PCV-TA) President Al Doyle and Vice President John Marsh sat down with the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) Deborah VanAmerongen and two members of her staff. The meeting was the result of a series of letters that the elected officials had sent to the DHCR Commissioner on the subject of the Major Capital Improvement (MCI) rent increase process, particularly as it pertains to ST/PCV.
Kavanagh, his elected official colleagues, and ST/PCV-TA had requested the meeting with DHCR in order to receive answers on past and pending applications, the approval, notification, and review process, and measures that can be taken by tenants and the TA to substantiate their claims when they determine that MCI rent increases are unwarranted.
VanAmerongen agreed to begin a practice whereby DHCR will send copies of the materials it receives from ST/PCV’s landlord in support of a particular MCI application directly to the TA on a regular basis so that tenants are kept apprised of developments and have the opportunity to review the materials and weigh in regarding the substance and validity of the applications. This is a large step forward, as one of the greatest obstacles to effective tenant input in the MCI process has been the difficulty involved in obtaining information about the applications under consideration. Kavanagh and the other elected officials also urged the agency to modernize its technology so that owners can submit their applications electronically, which would facilitate access to and distribution of the applications and supporting materials.
Though DHCR asserted that it was not legally permitted to discuss pending applications, the attendees did achieve a greater understanding of how applications and appeals are considered. Though they appreciated this progress, Kavanagh and his colleagues will continue their attempts in 2010 to work with DHCR to improve the transparency, fairness, and convenience of its processes.