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Housing in the News

25 January 12

New Brooklyn Tenant Lawyers Network Co-Chaired by SBLS's Michael Weisberg

A new coalition of lawyers who work on behalf of tenants has formed in Brooklyn, with South Brooklyn Legal Services Housing Unit Co-Director Michael Weisberg serving as group co-chair.

From Reuters:

“Last week, the attorneys announced the official launch of the Brooklyn Tenant Lawyers Network, which includes lawyers from private firms and each of the major legal-aid organizations operating in Brooklyn, according to a statement from the group and its two co-chairs, Karen Bacdayan of Legal Services NYC and Michael Weisberg of South Brooklyn Legal Services Inc.

Some tenant-side lawyers have been meeting privately and informally to discuss tenant-specific legal concerns since 2003, Weisberg said. They ultimately decided to break away and form a separate group, which met formally for the first time in December.”

Read the full article at Reuters.


23 January 12

South Brooklyn Legal Services Has Unfair Mortgage Deal Overturned

South Brooklyn Legal Services’ representation recently led to an “unconscionable” forbearance agreement between a homeowner and a bank being overturned.

From Reuters:

“In a ruling dated January 6, Kings County Supreme Court Justice Marsha Steinhardt slammed the forbearance agreement struck between Brooklyn homeowner Jaime Arroyo and the company that bought his mortgage, Rossrock Fund II LP, saying the company and its counsel took advantage of the unrepresented homeowner to draft a one-sided deal.


But Steinhardt noted that Arroyo was unrepresented during the forbearance discussions and was given just a brief window to sign the only deal he was offered, which was drafted entirely by Rossrock’s lawyers.”

For the whole story, visit Reuters.


17 October 11

South Brooklyn Legal Services Filing Appeal of Appellate Division Decision Upholding "Inadequate" Rezoning of Sunset Park

South Brooklyn Legal Services and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund are appealing the Appellate Division First Department’s September decision upholding the New York City planning department’s inadequate environmental review of the neighborhood’s 128-block rezoning.

The Brooklyn Eagle reports:

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association, five churches and two Sunset Park residents who originally sued to halt the rezoning of more than 25 acres in their neighborhood, an area roughly bordered by Third Avenue, 28th Street, 63rd Street and Eighth Avenue, claiming it would ultimately displace low-income Latino and Asian immigrant communities.

Because two of the five appellate court justices who heard the case agreed that the review was inadequate and submitted dissenting opinions in September, petitioners have the automatic right to appeal the decision to the state’s court of last resort, AALDEF announced Friday.

Read more about the appeal at The Brooklyn Eagle and Crain’s New York Business.


16 September 11

SBLS Attorney Sues Bank for Repairs of Foreclosed Park Slope Home

South Brooklyn Legal Services’s Housing Unit Co-Director Brent Meltzer was highlighted in a hard hitting article concerning the plight of tenants in multi-family buildings going through foreclosures.

South Brooklyn represents 6 tenants in a building that has fallen into disrepair after the National Bank of New York City provided a massively overleveraged mortgage to the owners thereby precluding any chance of rental money being used for repairs.

From the article:

“No one should be living without heat or hot water, especially elderly and disabled tenants and especially in New York City,” Meltzer said.

The Park Slope tenants, he said, have earned their homes. “Don’t forget, this was a different neighborhood 10 years ago. This wasn’t Park Slope, this was Gowanus. These are the people who stabilized the neighborhood when New York was falling apart. They lived there in the ’70s and ’80s when people who are living there now wouldn’t dare to,” he said.

Read the full story at Gotham Gazette.


14 August 11

SBLS Joins Other Groups to Urge Feds to Scold Chase Bank for Racially Disparate Lending

South Brooklyn Legal Services and five other New York-based advocacy groups have asked the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to rate JPMorgan Chase as “less than satisfactory” in its upcoming exam under the Community Reinvestment Act.

From City Limits:

“[SBLS and] the groups claim that Chase engages in ‘racially disparate lending,’ leading to mortgage redlining. The letter references a report entitled Paying More for the American Dream, which NEDAP and six other organizations compiled in May 2010.

The report found that Chase increased its prime refinance lending to New York City homeowners in predominantly white neighborhoods by 25.3 percent from 2006 to 2008, while decreasing the same kind of lending to homeowners in communities of color by 22.2 percent, the letter stated. From 2008 to 2010, the report found that applications to Chase for refinance loans increased 64 percent in predominantly white neighborhoods, while decreasing 10 percent in communities of color.”

Read the full story at City Limits magazine.


29 April 11

South Brooklyn Legal Services to Offer Free Advice at Assemblyman Brennan's Housing Fair on May 19

South Brooklyn Legal Services (SBLS) is co-sponsoring an upcoming informational housing fair organized by Assemblyman Jim Brennan (44th AD, D-Brooklyn).

“Housing Matters: Issues and Answers for Homeowners, Cooperators, Renters and Home Buyers” will have staff attorneys from SBLS on hand to provide legal advice, information and consultation on a wide variety of housing issues.

In addition, the public can get all their legal questions answered by representatives from nearly 30 other organizations and agencies, including the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and Housing Court Answers.

Spanish, Russian and Bangladeshi interpreters will be available.

Date: May 19, 2011, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Location: Ditmas Junior High School, 700 Cortelyou Road (entrance at East 7th St.), Brooklyn, NY

For more information, please call (718) 940-0641, or email campbells@assembly.state.ny.us.
Free and open to the public. All are welcome.

  • For homeowners, the fair will address issues such as foreclosure prevention, mortgage check ups, and no-cost or low-interest loans for home repairs, as well as weatherization and tax abatement information.
  • For renters, the fair will address tenants’ rights, eviction prevention, how to form a tenants’ association, complaint enforcement, SCRIE and DRIE programs and affordable housing options.
  • For cooperators, the fair will address getting advice on building management, shareholder board relations and tax abatement programs.
  • For home buyers, the fair will provide information regarding credit health, down payment grants and first-time home-buyer programs and assistance.
  • Issues that pertain to all, such as burglary prevention, graffitti removal, dealing with bed bugs and energy efficiency will also be addressed.


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