While attention is being paid to recent news that CWCapital will be foreclosing on ST/PCV, making way for a sale, perhaps to its parent company Fortress Investment, a basic truth still remains despite the hopes and wishes of tenants, the TA or local politicians: Affordable housing will continue to evaporate in ST/PCV. About the only potential stoppage to this would be powerful and fairly immediate outside involvement from lawmakers and the city (sorry, not Dan Garodnick) which would mandate the cessation of renovating apartments in the complex once a long-time tenant moves out or dies, or separate such renovations from a landlord's ability to charge market-rate prices for the finished apartment. Both possibilities are unrealistic. There is still an outside chance that the city could compel our future landlord to set aside a portion of units in ST/PCV as "affordable housing," but you can bet that portion will be relatively small to the amount of affordable units that are available now. Perhaps some other strategy exists that hasn't been much discussed, something so devious and unexpected that would shake the assured plans of a landlord, but that is unknown at this point and perhaps just a pipe dream.
While local politicians may make crowd-pleasing speeches about compelling CWCapital or Fortress to keep a stock of apartments affordable, the truth is that the long-time RS apartments ARE affordable (to the degree that they can be) because those apartments are under rent-stabilization protection. So if Fortress does become the owner of this complex, it can't just remove long-time RS tenants at will. There are tenant-protection laws on the books, needing to be periodically renewed, of course, that grant RS tenants the protections they need.
Organized and involved tenants in ST/PCV have always been a problem to the landlord. Though the trajectory has been, and will be, for the landlord to win most of the battles here, the absence of an organized and concerned tenant base will give a landlord free rein, and this is something we can't allow. That's why, despite the disappointment some tenants feel with the TA's goals and results, I believe it is an organization that still should be supported by the tenants.
But I also believe that each tenant holds the opportunity to put a landlord's "feet to the fire" and that individually we still haven't used the power that exists in the law books to our advantage. This, I think, should be our goal: to be aware of our power and, importantly, to use it to make sure we have a quality of life that makes living here pleasant and relatively trouble-free.
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