Lawmakers, Advocates Push For Loft “Clean Up” Bill

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State Sen. Martin Dilan (D-Greenporint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, East New York), Assemblymember Maritza Davila (D-Williamsburg, Bushwick) and City Councilmembers Stephen Levin (D-Northern Brooklyn) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Bushwick, Greenpoint, Williamsburg) yesterday joined NYC Loft Tenants in Bushwick to rally for proposed bill number S6828, also known as the Loft “Clean Up” Bill.

State Sen. Martin Dilan introduced the new measure that would give loft tenants more housing rights. Photo by William Engel

Dilan was the prime sponsor of the measure, which was created to repeal the changes introduced by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg to 2010’s Expanded Loft Law (which Dilan also sponsored). Said changes created obstructions that excluded certain loft tenants from the law’s protections, such as protection from eviction and mandated rent stabilization. Bill S6828 will also lengthen the eligibility period for applying for loft status, and remove the application deadline.

State Senators Jesse Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn), Kevin Parker (D-Flatbush, Midwood) and Brian Kavanagh (D-Northern Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) are co-sponsors on the new measure.

The electeds spoke in front of an impassioned crowd at Our Lady of the Rosary Pompeii, 225 Siegel Street in Bushwick, who punctuated each elected’s speech by cheering and banging on percussion instruments.

“I am honored and privileged to be your state senator, and I am looking forward to fighting very hard in the senate to make sure that this bill passes,” said Dilan.

Reynoso noted that the bill has already been passed in the assembly – a big step, but not the final one by any means.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of bills that pass in the assembly and just sit there and wither away in the cold offices of Albany,” said Reynoso.

To demonstrate the importance of the new loft bill, the NYC Loft Tenants gave the floor to loft tenant and activist Ximena Garnica, who told the story of how she and her partner were denied loft status because of a mere technicality.

The rally drew a lot of artists and musicians, who have come to make the lofts of Bushwick and Williamsburg their homes. Photo by William Engel

“One night, at 7 p.m., we were working, when our roommate got an eviction notice,” said Garnica. “So we’ve been fighting really hard, and our case is a bit of an absurd case… according to the loft laws, since our windows face an ‘interior space’, I therefore cannot be covered by the loft law. Why is this? It’s absurd, right? But it’s happening.”

After Garnica spoke, Zefrey Throwell of NYC Loft Tenants summarized a “three-point plan” that he and his group have for getting the bill passed.

“The first branch is on the city level, with city council members that are here working with the city’s office,” said Throwell. “The second branch is on the New York State legislature, with the assembly and the senate. The third branch of that is with the governor’s office. We’re woking on each of these parts all the time. All volunteer work.”

Throwell strongly encouraged those in attendance to make time for the cause, since his organization depends heavily on the efforts of volunteers.

“Now, I know it’s New York, everyone’s busy, you don’t have a lot of time,” said Throwell. “We, the volunteers here, could definitely use some help, but if you can’t give that, please give us a little bit of money so we can spend our time up in Albany making sure that these guys listen to us, and that we can stay in our homes, which we deserve.”

Davila made sure to remind the rally-goers that the state budget bill passes next week, on March 29. If they want to get Bill S6828 added to the budget, the time to act is now.

“This is not the time to step back; this is the time to put the pressure on,” said Davila. “I’m able to handle pressure. I’m good with that, as you can see. I know that it’ll be tough, but it’s not impossible. Thank you, loft tenants.”

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