By Lauren Springer
My name is Lauren Springer, and I’m a tenant leader with Catholic Migration Services (CMS) in Queens. I’m writing today to ask you to sign our petition to Mayor DeBlasio to support tenant organizing in New York City.
In 2006, my rent-regulated building was one of 80 buildings bought by a predatory equity landlord who promised high rates of return to his investors, which could only be achieved by pushing long-time tenants out of their homes. Afterward, the landlord began harassing my neighbors—many of whom were seniors, immigrants, and non-English speakers. The landlord falsely accused them of not paying rent, incorrectly claimed that tenants’ homes were not their primary residences, and tried to prevent them from renewing their leases. As such, he managed to clear out his buildings of many long-time residents. In 2008, CMS helped us form a tenants’ union across a majority of the 80 buildings, and with their help, we were able to organize and fight back. Though litigation and organizing efforts, we put a stop to our landlord’s predatory practices.
Through this experience, I’ve seen firsthand the power of tenant organizing. In August 2017, through organizing efforts, we won the right to legal representation in housing court, but we need to do more. We need to strengthen Right to Counsel to fund community and tenant organizations in their outreach efforts to ensure that tenants know their rights so they can exercise them, build tenant power, and thereby, hold landlords accountable. Support tenants’ rights and sign our petition to pass Intro 1529!
Watch me speak at our press conference introducing Intro 1529: