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Tenant Protections Backed by Catholic Migration Services Passed by Lawmakers in Historic Rent Regulations Deal

Last month, the New York State Legislature passed a historic package of rent regulations called The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 that will strengthen and restore a series of important rent laws that were weakened over the course of 20 years. The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“the Act”), signed into law days after lawmakers reached a deal, will preserve the affordability of about one million regulated apartments in New York City.

For Catholic Migration Services and its allies, this is a win that was years in the making. The Act addresses an affordable housing crisis caused in part by rollbacks of tenant protections, and by certain landlords who exploited loopholes and weak laws to put profit before tenants. 

Catholic Migration Services, joined by coalition partners and tenants alike, advocated for years on behalf of New Yorkers to restore equity amid this statewide housing crisis. Carlos Ortiz, Tenant Organizer with the Tenant Advocacy Program picked up as lead organizer at Catholic Migration Services for this initiative shortly after the 2016 laws expired. It was during that time that he and other organizers at Catholic Migration Services began to get into campaign mode to mobilize tenants in need of housing reform. After a statewide coalition was formed joining advocates throughout New York State, they began to strategize and mobilize.

According to Ortiz, “Queens experienced one of the greatest mobilizations in the effort, and Catholic Migration Services was a big part of that. We consistently brought people from the borough, and dedicated tenant leaders who were part of the planning and strategy meetings sacrificed their time, and that of their families.” 

New York tenants were kept abreast about these efforts through coordinated forums, community meetings, public platforms, rallies, and press conferences organized by partner organizations and coalition members. The rollback and new set of laws makes it much easier for tenants and their advocates, removing obstacles, and closing some loopholes that oftentimes threatened the homes and stability of New Yorkers. For Ortiz and other advocates, the historic legislation is a great step in the right direction but there is still work to be done, especially the elimination of the existing Major Capital Improvement (MCI) provisions that contain a loophole through which certain landlords can continue to increase rents dramatically and unfairly.  

Catholic Migration Services is a unique legal service provider in the community. In addition to providing high quality legal assistance and Know Your Rights education to low-income individuals, Catholic Migration Services assists immigrants with immigration legal services, tenants in Queens with housing legal services, and low-wage workers with employment legal services. The staff includes attorneys and organizers.  “We help solve problems from a legal position and in other good ways that are needed,” said Andrew Lehrer, Managing Attorney for the Tenant Advocacy Program. “There is value in having organizers and involving the client community. “It’s remarkable what tenants were able to achieve by coming together to advocate for these reforms,” said Lehrer.

Read the full press release from Assemblymember’s Office here: Assembly Passes Historic Affordable Housing Protections to Bring Stability to Tenants Across New York State

Attorney General James and Governor Cuomo Announce Lawsuit Against Queens Landlord for Violating Rent Stabilization Laws And Tenant Harassment

Earlier this month Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a lawsuit against Zara Realty Holding Corp., its principals, and affiliated entities for repeatedly violating rent stabilization laws and harassing tenants at their Queens apartment buildings. The defendants, who own and manage at least 2,500 rent-stabilized apartments in 38 buildings in and around Jamaica, Queens, have taken advantage of their tenants, who are largely immigrant middle- and low-income families, by charging them illegal fees and rents, and requiring that they sign illegal leases.

The complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court, alleges that Zara Realty has spent years evading and circumventing rent stabilization laws in order to scam tenants out of thousands upon thousands of dollars. Zara Realty often illegally demands and charges new tenants illegal key money, room reservation fees, advanced rent, and excessive security deposits. Tenants who continue to reside in Zara Realty buildings are often illegally charged late fees and fees for services to which they are entitled to for free such as regular apartment maintenance.

For years, Catholic Migration Services has represented Queens tenants who have fallen victim to the harassment and unscrupulous tactics of Zara Realty. Providing legal, advocacy and organizing resources, Catholic Migration Services continues to combat predatory landlords and represents low-income New Yorkers living in Queens free of charge.

Read the full press release from the New York Attorney General’s Office: Attorney General James and Governor Cuomo Announce Lawsuit Against Queens Landlord for Violating Rent Stabilization Laws And Tenant Harassment

Nunca es tarde para que un inmigrante aplique por la ciudadanía

Durante el reciente taller de naturalización el pasado 9 de Marzo junto al Abogados de Nueva York para el Interés Público (New York Lawyers for the Public Interest/NYLPI en inglés), Servicios Católicos de Migración ayudaron Residentes Legales Permanentes con sus aplicaciones para solicitar la ciudadanía estadounidense. En este taller, ambos organizaciones contaron con la participación de voluntarios y intérpretes de Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, y Goldman Sachs. Tilda, una clienta de Servicios Católicos de Migración comparta su experiencia y como llegó a conocer la organización y sus servicios.

Lea la historia completa en El Diario: Nunca es tarde para que un inmigrante aplique por la ciudadanía

Unity Through Christ on Migration Day

On Saturday, December 1st the faithful of the Diocese of Brooklyn gathered for the Annual Diocesan Migration Day Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph. Immigrants from Brooklyn and Queens celebrated the richness of their faith and diversity dressed in traditional attire and carrying banners from their respective countries and home parishes. It was truly a multicultural experience for those in attendance.

Media Coverage:
Read the full story in The Tablet: Unity Through Christ on Migration Day
See Current’s NET TV’s news segment: Migration Day Mass

 

The Immigration Conundrum

The issue of immigration reform has caught the attention of our country because of the unfortunate practice of separating children from their parents as they approach the border. Some of the people are seeking asylum or a safe haven escaping difficult situations in their home countries, especially violence and oppression. Others come seeking to improve their economic condition fleeing a life of poverty. In his weekly column Put Out Into the Deep, the Most Reverend Bishop DiMarzio revisits the President’s State of the Union address and the four pillars announced as the necessary elements for immigration reform.

Read the full column in The Tablet: The Immigration Conundrum

Becoming a U.S. citizen: Immigrant New Yorkers reveal why they want to become Americans

Since the new administration took office in January 2017, eligible green card holders have expressed an increased demand and interest in becoming U.S. citizens. Catholic Migration Services and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest have teamed up with partnering firms to offer free naturalization clinics. The next clinic is scheduled to be held on Saturday, July 28th at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. Individuals interested are encouraged to call our free and confidential hotline at (212) 225-4400 or text (718) 866-3687 to be pre-screened and determine eligibility.

When: Saturday, July 28, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: LaGuardia Community College located at 31-10 Thomson Avenue, E Atrium, Long Island City, NY 11101.

Click here to download the workshop flyer as a PDF in English en Español.

Read the full story via amNewYork: Becoming a U.S. citizen: Immigrant New Yorkers reveal why they want to become Americans