2000-01-08 / Letters

S.H.A.F.T. Responds

Dear Editor;

In the past, S.H.A.F.T. has ignored the utterances of The Wave regular writers, David Zukerman and Howard Schwach. But enough is enough. S.H.A.F.T. was formed five years ago because things were not right when it came to the condition of the buildings and the concerns of the tenants. It has been a long and tedious five years. The leadership of S.H.A.F.T. has lived here for almost 20 years. Many of the tenants and members are first, second, and in some cases third generation families who have lived here all their lives. They have paid their rent, followed the management rules. In other words, were working along with the landlord under the assumption that the landlord was doing the right thing by fulfilling financial obligations, making repairs and improvements when necessary and generally maintaining the building complex. At this time we would like to acknowledge the work of the maintenance staff who have been doing their job cleaning and maintaining the buildings as best they can.

Over the last five years, S.H.A.F.T. had meetings, wrote letters, made telephone calls to anyone who would listen. Some politicians responded immediately like Assemblywoman Pheffer and staff and the borough president and most recently Congressman Weiner with his help with HUD. Other politicians gave lip service or didn’t want to rock the boat or are "johnny come lately". From the mayor’s office on down, to HPD, to DHCR, to even the DOB and HUD we have met obstacles, our concerns falling on deaf ears. The system and agencies that were established to protect tenants were, by their inaction, protecting the landlord. Only as recently as this summer because of a rent strike and Channel 4 News coverage was any serious attention been given to the concerns regarding the condition of the buildings.

What people are losing sight of is that S.H.A.F.T. is a group of tenants who have been forced to give up part of their private life, collect dues from tenants, hire "tenant advocate" lawyers in order to get and keep their homes and families safe and comfortable. We have hired lawyers in order to speak the same language of the landlord and their lawyers. Our lawyers are working for peanuts as compared to the Manhattan based real estate lobby lawyers the landlord has hired. The money they have been spending in legal fees could probably fix a couple of parapets, or windows. In some areas we are now at the mercy of the court system awaiting a judgment.

What Mr. Zukerman fails to represent is that the landlord never once acknowledged our concerns. That they have fought every document, every complaint in court. That they in fact are trying to get rent increases for Major Capital Improvements as we speak. What a joke! That they want money for improvements. While we live with scaffolding around our building going on their fourth anniversary. That the brickwork and parapets present a danger. That the windows which date back to the 1960’s allow the elements into tenants’ apartments. That they have charged tenants for real estate taxes when the issue has not been resolved. Not once do you hear that tenants now have their windows barricaded with plywood and netting because the repairs required are that far-gone and serious. That even when dangerous conditions like bricks and parapets falling and terraces questionable, they resort to fighting the violations in court instead of doing the work.

In reviewing the activities of S.H.A.F.T. for the last five years, enough has been said, enough has been documented, enough has been seen. Ample opportunity was given to the Zukermans to do!

S.H.A.F.T. has been forced to DO!





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