2006-08-18 / Community

Ocean Village Residents Decry Plans To Raise Rents

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

A large crowd turns out for the hearing.
A large crowd turns out for the hearing.

In response to a perspective rent increase looming over them, residents of Ocean Village attended a hearing sponsored by the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal to air their objections to any rent hikes proposed by RY Management.

The July 28 hearing is part of a biannual process where upon a management company proposes a new budget, which could include rent increases, to the state.

"There still are deficiencies in Ocean Village that are not being addressed...it needs major improvements," said Assemblywoman Michele Titus speaking for the tenants.

Titus concluded by saying that any raise in rent for the residents of Ocean Village would be harmful.

Also taking up the cause for the residents was Donovan Richards, the district manager for City Councilman James Sanders Jr. Richards has a unique perspective, since he also lives in Ocean Village.

"I moved in last November...there was no heat, no hot water...they didn't know I worked for an elected official...I gave them the benefit of the doubt," said Richards. "When I let them know who I was, the problems were [fixed].

Representatives from maintenance (left) and security listen as tenants complain about services from their departments.Representatives from maintenance (left) and security listen as tenants complain about services from their departments. "That should be for everyone. Tenants should have heat and hot water when it is cold."

He went on to say his fellow tenants could not afford the proposed increase. In addition, Richards said those living there should receive improved services for what they pay.

"I hope RY [Management] will work better to insure tenants receive what they deserve," concluded Richards. "I hope we can work toward a fair increase, if there is going to be an increase."

As the hearing wore on, and one tenant after another rose to address the rent increase - tied to it, they talked about the persistent problems that have faced Ocean Village.

Michelle Johnson and Barbara Daniels were typical of those who talked about the problems in the apartment complex.

Johnson, a 20 year resident, complained about leaks in new windows that are supposed to be leak proof, glass in the basketball court, cabinets that are falling apart and more.

"The quality of life is down," said Johnson. What are you doing about it? You want to charge more, increase the quality of life."

To loud applause Daniels said, "The quality of life in Ocean Village is not there any more. I'd like to ask our management to take turns living here for at least one month and come back and tell us what you think."

Responding to the tenants the president of RY Management said, "It is difficult asking for any rent increase. Like any household we need money to address certain things. We got hit between gas and electric, it blew the budget out of proportion...we proposed certain numbers...we're targeting [a new] playground, we've done the elevators...next is the lobby...the intercom system...we've spoken with the Tenant Association...we have a way to go."

As Vaccarello listened to the problems, and promised to look into certain things, he also said that the company does checks on incoming tenants and RY is trying to get undesirable tenants out.

One tenant pointed out that the increase would hit the working poor living in Ocean Village hardest and asked if the management company could "help get subsidies or look for someplace [to help]."

Vaccarello said, "There is no nice way of saying it, we need to generate cash to operate too. We'll try, but the building doesn't have many subsidies."

In addition to residents' comments, the tenants association hired CPA Steve Greenberg who submitted his own suggestions to turn any increase into an affordable one for the tenants.

"The earliest this could take effect is November 1," said Denise Snyder, a senior housing management representative for the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. "There will be a review by the commissioner in August, then a review...by HUD and then you get at least a 30 day notice [about any increase].

"The commissioner, when looking at the numbers, will take into consideration your comments, the tenant association's [comments] and the effects of the increase on tenants."

Snyder said some people would not be affected by any increase such as those who are on Section 8. People on senior rent exception will not see an immediate change.

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