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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Baez's Housing Bill Dead

A controversial housing bill is dead, says the Daily News, after its sponsors - Bronx Council members Maria Baez and Joel Rivera - climbed down amidst stern opposition and claims that the legislation would threaten affordable housing. The bill's defeat seems to have cleared the path for a different bill, the so-called Tenants Protection Act, which is supported by tenant rights groups and the majority of the City Council. A hearing on this bill is set for Dec. 17.

If passed, the Tenant Protection Act will allow tenants to sue landlords for harassment in housing court. (Anti-harassment legislation is needed, say advocates, because landlords are increasingly trying to force out long-term tenants so they can bring in new tenants with deeper pockets. Baez's bill would have allowed tenants to sue for harassment, but, crucially, it would have empowered landlords to sue tenants for the same thing.)

For more about these two bills, pick up the December issue of the Mount Hope Monitor (it's not yet online as we're having Web issues). The story's also going in tomorrow's Norwood News. Also, if you haven't already, read what Tom Robbins of the Village Voice had to say. Robbins suggests, among other things, that Rivera threw his weight behind Baez's bill because the real estate industry is helping to fund his (expected) run for borough president. There was also an earlier Daily News piece on these bills, and something on WNYC.

All of this media attention led off from a protest outside Baez's district office on Nov. 27 (pictured), which was organized by Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA). At the time, Baez's office issued a statement in which Baez said, "We are having a healthy discussion and debate about both bills."

With today's news, the debate, it would seem, is now officially over.

(Photo by James Fergusson)


  1. November 28, 2007


    Bronx, NY - Bronx Community Activist and 2009 City Council Candidate for the Northwest Bronx, Haile Rivera, calls upon its current representative, Councilwoman Maria Baez to explain to her constituents her motives for not supporting Intro. #627 proposed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, 30 other Council members as well as the Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.

    "Intro. 627 is a much-needed legislation that seeks to protects tenants from being harassed by landlords who are looking to kick them out of their apartments. I have serious concerns as to why our Councilwoman is not supporting this legislation and would urge for her to provide her motives," said Rivera.

    "I can not imagine any Council member or elected official from the Bronx opposing or not supporting laws to protects tenants from harassment. I also question the real motives behind Intro. 638 which seeks to protect landlords instead of tenants. I think our community has had enough of elected officials protecting landlords and not tenants."

    "I commend Speaker Quinn, the 30 Council members, particularly those from The Bronx, and the Public Advocate for drafting Intro. 627 and I strongly urge Councilwoman Baez to support this legislation for the sake of the residents of the Northwest Bronx and the entire City of New York. Enough is enough. Basta Ya," concludes Rivera.

  2. I agree... and Rivera needs to be held accountable for this when he runs for Borough President. Hopefully Bronx residents will remember this when that election comes around.


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