LOWER MANHATTAN — City Councilwomen Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez have set aside nearly $150,000 of their discretionary funds to protect tenants from landlord harassment, according to budget documents.
The earmarked funds will benefit organizations that educate constituents about their rights, help residents organize against bad-acting landlords and provide legal assistance to tenants, they said.
Both councilwomen's districts have seen an increase in housing complaints from their constituents — over such issues as utility outages, evictions, delayed repairs and potentially unsafe construction work — as the neighborhoods in their territories gentrify, according to their offices.
“That is the biggest problem I’m having in my district,” aside from noise complaints, said Mendez, who set aside $97,500.
According to Chin’s office, about half of all the cases that come to her office are housing related. Chin allocated $52,000 of her discretionary dollars.
The combined $149,500 in earmarked funds will be distributed among several tenant advocacy organizations, including the Cooper Square Committee, Good Old Lower East Side, the Committee Against Asian-American Violence and Asian Americans for Equality.
“These badly needed funds secured by my office for legal services and tenant advocacy will go to help some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, who too often have been the victims of unscrupulous landlords looking to clear their buildings of rent-regulated tenants,” Chin said in a statement.
“In a city where the crisis of affordability grows more acute with each passing year, this funding will help fight tenant harassment and let people stay in the neighborhoods they helped build.”