Updates & Victories

GOLES is engaged in several multi-year campaigns around our main areas of work, and we’ll post periodic campaign updates and wins on this page. If you don’t find the information you’re looking for here, you may want to look at our most recent newsletter  or coverage of our work in the media.

Historic Rent Laws Victory – 06/2019

Governor Cuomo signed into law a historic package of rent regulations that cover all of New York State. GOLES is excited about this important victory by NY tenants and advocates. The law includes protections for existing rent-regulated tenants, as well as for all residential tenants across the state of New York. For a breakdown of the rent laws and what it means for you, please follow this link. If you have any questions about this new legislation, contact GOLES for more information.

Even with this victory, the fight is still not over. The bill is not perfect and, as members of the No More MCIs coalition, GOLES is disappointed that the law does not eliminate this program, which allows landlords to increase rents and displace tenants. There is still work to be done – we will continue to organize, mobilize, and fight around housing justice in our community and throughout all of NYC.

However, this is a historic victory, only made possible by the tireless advocacy of the tenant movement. It was also made possible because, this time around, we had true allies in the legislature. We are thankful to our local elected officials, Yuh-Line Niou, Deborah Glick, Harvey Epstein, Brad Hoylman and, of course, Chair of the Committee on Housing, Brian Kavanagh. We look forward to seeing the positive impact that the law they helped pass today will have in our community, and in other low-income communities of color across the city and state.

“I want to abolish MCIs,” said Lynne Timko, a member of GOLES “but it’s a great step in the right direction.”

“32 years I’ve taken part in this fight against mega developers, bad landlords, and our people being displaced,” said Debra Medina, Housing Counselor at GOLES. “We are overjoyed that our legislators finally stood up for us.”

“We the tenants are powerful and we won today! Imagine what else we can accomplish to protect our families from being evicted” said Patricia Ramirez Tenant Association leader of 444 east 13th street.

“I will never forget today in my whole life.” said Walter Quinones, resident of the Lower East Side. “The tenants are taking control of our housing by repealing vacancy decontrol and limiting rent increases! Power to the people.”

Land Use Update – 06/2019

Since 2017, GOLES has taken important steps in the fight to stop the three proposed luxury developments in the Two Bridges area.

The proposed developments are a sign of gentrification reaching the LES waterfront. In response – not just to these megatowers but also to other towers that may be proposed in the future – GOLES, along with allies CAAAV and TUFF-LES, applied to the NYC Department of City Planning to rezone the Waterfront based on the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) plan that community members worked on for nearly a decade. In 2017, GOLES and other local groups formally demanded the NYC Department of City Planning to overturn their decision to allow these developments to skip the usual review process, and instead go through a simpler special process. The Land Use Committee of Community Board 3 also voted in 2017 to become co-applicants in this rezoning application.

Despite strong community support, the NYC Department of City Planning decided not to support CWG rezoning. As a result, GOLES, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Tenants United Fighting for the Lower East Side (TUFF-LES), the Land’s End One Tenant Association, and the La Guardia Houses Tenant Association, filed a lawsuit against the NYC Planning Commission, with the support of the Community Development Project.

In response to lawsuits against the NYC Planning Commission, State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron heard the case and issued a winning decision on Jun. 5, 2019, imposing a temporary restraining order against the four luxury towers proposed for the Two Bridges area of the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

“It gives us hope,” said Grace Mak, member of TUFF-LES and Two Bridges Tower Resident Association, “and demonstrates that this under-represented Two Bridges community with limited resources have a fighting chance against developers with unconditional power and wealth. All it takes is countless hours of dedication, team work, passion and drive. We understand the battle is not yet over but we will continue to strive on the prime principals of what is important for residents who live in the Two Bridges community.”

Judge Engoron will make a final ruling in August and we will provide more updates then.

Separate from the lawsuit to stop these towers, GOLES, CAAAV and TUFF-LES are calling for a community-led rezoning of the waterfront, based on the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) Plan on which community organizations, residents, and elected officials worked on for over a decade.

Steven Croman Predatory Landlord Update – 12/2018

In October 2017, rent regulated tenants in the LES, and all over the city, celebrated a major victory when notorious predatory landlord Steven Croman was sentenced to spend a year in prison at Riker’s Island on criminal charges. Mr. Croman has been called one of the city’s “Worst Landlords” and was known for harassing rent-regulated tenants in order to displace them. GOLES and the Stop Croman Coalition it supports reached out to and organized tenants from Mr. Croman’s 150+ buildings in preparation for the for the civil lawsuit brought by the Attorney General on behalf of the hundreds of tenants harmed and harassed by Mr. Croman.

Croman is now required by New York State to pay $8 million to a tenant-restitution fund and the first payments will be submitted before the end of 2018.