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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

Catholic Migration Services’ Proposed Tenant Protections Endorsed by New York Times

This week the New York Times Editorial Board endorsed several measures that Catholic Migration Services and Queens tenants have been advocating to Albany legislators.  These proposals would eliminate some of the loopholes in state laws that currently allow landlords to impose significant rent increases that often make rent regulated apartments unaffordable.  Catholic Migration Services has been working closely with tenants and coalition partners to advocate for the critical changes now supported by the Times.  These changes include restricting how landlords can eliminate “preferential rents” and eliminating the incentive to evict tenants (“vacancy bonuses”).

Read the full story in the New York Times: Voters Can Keep Housing Affordable 

Queens Immigrants Attend Resource Fair and Legal Clinic

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, District Attorney Richard Brown, and the Queens Immigration Task Force held their Annual Immigrant Know Your Rights Week Resource Fair and Legal Clinic on Thursday, June 28th at Queens Center Mall. Over 30 organizations and agencies participated in the resource fair and connected Queens immigrants with information for city services, nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups. A free legal clinic provided confidential consultations in areas of immigration, housing, employment, and domestic violence. Attorneys from Catholic Migration Services were available for legal consultations and an outreach team informed New Yorkers about the organization’s legal services.

 

Queens residents stop by the Immigrant Resource Fair for a chance to learn about new services, organizations, and agencies.

Queens immigrants chat with the outreach team of Catholic Migration Services to learn about the legal services and know your rights education available through the organization.

Katz announces inaugural Know Your Rights Week campaign

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s Immigration Task Force is organizing a series of free informational “Know Your Rights” workshops and confidential legal clinics for immigrants from June 25 to June 29 and Catholic Migration Services has partnered with with the Borough President to bring these much needed services to the community. Taking part in a resource fair and one-on-one consultations, immigrants are encouraged to attend, seek resources and legal advice on immigration, housing and workers’ rights.

Read the full article via the Times Ledger: Katz announces inaugural Know Your Rights Week campaign

Free Immigrant Workshops 6/25-29

In a joint effort with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Catholic Migration Services will participate in Know Your Rights Week in conjunction with U.S. Congressmember Gregory Meeks, U.S. Congressmember Grace Meng and in partnership with State Senator Michael N. Gianaris, State Senator Jose Peralta, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, State Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry, City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, and City Councilmember Rory Lancman.

Thursday, June 28th – Immigration Resource Fair
Queens Center Mall, Macy’s Wing at 90-15 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst
4:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.: Level 3 – Legal Clinic on Housing and Employment
4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.: Level 2 – Organization Resource Tables
Walk-ins only
Languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin, Bengali, Korean, Russian, Tagalog, & Croatian

Friday, June 29th – One-on-one Consultations for those in Removal Proceedings or Seeking Asylum
Catholic Migration Service, Queens Office at 47-01 Queens Blvd., Suite 203B in Sunnyside

Read the full story via the Queens Chronicle: Free Immigrant Workshops 6/25-29
Click here to download the event flyer as a PDF.

Queens Town Hall on Right to Counsel Well Received in Elmhurst

Right to counsel coalition members, tenants, and community leaders gathered for town hall forum on legislation signed into law August 2017.

On Thursday, April 12th right to counsel coalition members, tenants, and community leaders gathered for a Town Hall Forum in the gymnasium of St. Bartholomew Catholic Academy in Elmhurst, New York to address legislation signed into law on August 11, 2017. Right to Counsel mandates universal access to legal representation for low-income tenants in New York City and is the first City in the nation to establish this type of legislation.

Coalition members, tenants, and community leaders highlighted the history of Intro 214 and its amendments originally introduced in March of 2014 by Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson. Approximately 150 Queens tenants packed the school gymnasium to learn why the Right to Counsel is so important, the eligibility requirements, how to find an attorney, which Queens zip codes will begin implementing RTC, and how to build tenant power.

Queens tenants raise their hands during interactive forum.

After learning that 11433, 11434, and 11373 are the first Queens zip codes to implement RTC, tenants later broke out into small groups facilitated by attorneys and organizers for an opportunity to ask questions, discuss ways to protect themselves and their neighbors, and to complete commitment cards asking tenants to start taking action and ownership of this new tool.

Intro 214-B, the final bill that passed last year, ensures at the end of 5 years, all income eligible tenants will be ensured an attorney when fighting their eviction in housing court. Tenants who are over income, have the right to a consultation with an attorney. The bill also provides for NYCHA tenants whose cases happen in administrative hearings, to have representation as well.

The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is made up of tenant organizing groups, tenant advocates, homeless advocates, senior advocates, disability advocates, academics, legal services organizations and more! We led the campaign that resulted in the passage of Local Law 136, which ensures that low-income tenants are represented in eviction cases by attorneys when they defend their rights and their homes. The Coalition is actively organizing and advocating while this law is being phased in.