|File photo by Adi Talwar|
By Alex Kratz
Residents at Tracey Towers, the twin concrete high-rises (one of them looms in the background of the photo to your right) on Mosholu Parkway, are bracing for another battle with management over their desire to raise rents up to 77 percent over the course of the next three years.
In a recent letter to tenants, RY Management, which has run the 869-unit apartment complex since the early 1980s, said the current rent rates do not cover the cost of maintaining the buildings and they had applied for a rent increase with the city’s department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD). Because it was built under the state’s Mitchell-Llama program, HPD must approve any rent increase.
Tracey residents claim RY’s problems are the result of mismanagement and they shouldn’t be the ones to shoulder all of the burden.
In the past, tenants say, RY has squandered funding that tenants have paid for. A few years ago, RY received a $4 million loan to repair the roof and do some work on the façade, which was cracking and causing leaks. They paid to erect scaffolding, but instead of doing the roof and façade work, RY used the money to replace the boilers. Meanwhile, the scaffolding remains at a cost of $5,000 a month even though it isn’t being used.
The unattended roof and façade work has led to significant leakage. Tenant Association leader Sam Gillian said several apartments cannot be rented because they are in such disrepair from water damage.
At the Tracey buildings, where a Chinese delivery man once spent four days trapped in a broken-down elevator, there are more than 800 open housing code violations. “Instead of taking care of the violations, they just pay the fines,” said Lorraine Stuart, a Tracey tenant for 35 years.
The services at Tracey are “awful, worse than they’ve ever been,” Stuart said. “We fought for heat and hot water all winter.” RY did not return calls seeking comment for this article.
Like other Mitchell-Llama developments, Tracey was built in 1955 as a bastion of middle-class housing. But tenants like Gillian say RY’s proposed rent increase, if approved, will imperil its middle-class aims. In order to pay for the increase, Gillian says he would have to start dipping into the money he puts aside for groceries and prescription drugs.
HPD was scheduled to hold a hearing about the rent increase at Tracey Towers, 20 W. Mosholu Pkwy. So. on June 6, but the hearing has been postponed until July 14.
Gillian said the results of the hearing will be telling. “Is the state giving up on Mitchell-Llama and other affordable housing? That’s the question.”