Bronx landlord violates state rent subsidy program, tenants say – New York Daily News

A landlord in the Bronx is in violation of the state’s emergency rental program, say tenants who claim they are being squeezed by the wealthy property owner.

But the landlord claims that this is simply not the case and that the situation is more complicated than their tenants let go of.

These tenants claim that an important part of the program – which came into force in June last year to help people with pandemic-induced financial problems – is being neglected to kick them to the curb.

At 3245 Perry Ave. in Norwood, two residents told how they applied for and were approved for the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, also known as ERAP. They also claim that their landlord – a company under the umbrella of Glacier Equities, which is controlled by Myles Horn – received money through the program.

But the landlord, they say, did something strange.

Eric Urquiza and Jose Ramos said that when they called the state’s ERAP hotline, they found out that their landlord returned the funds sent by the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which administers ERAP.

“They just want me out of there,” said Urquiza, who has lived in the building for 17 years.

His neighbor, Ramos, recalled an exchange with Glacier’s Chief Investment Officer, Rachel Brill, in which he claims she told him Horn wants him and Urquiza out so he can sell their apartments.

“That’s why he does not take the money,” Ramos claims, Brill told him, adding, “He wants you out.”

Brill said that was not exactly what she said, but confirmed the basics. She told the Daily News that Glacier is rejecting the ERAP money because the company does not intend to renew Ramos’ lease.

“Nothing would make us happier than helping him buy his apartment,” she said. “We will go to great lengths to help tenants buy.”

But Ramos says he can not afford the bid price, which is around $ 170,000.

The State Emergency Rental Assistance Program was created by Albany lawmakers as a way to help tenants pay rent arrears that have arisen after losing their jobs due to COVID-19 closures. It was also designed to help landlords who did not receive rent payments.

By signing up for the program, landlords must agree not to evict people for no reason for at least one year after the tenants’ first payment, and they are prohibited from raising the rent during that time.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democrat representing the Bronx neighborhood where Urquiza and Ramos live, said he had never heard of a situation like the one the two tenants are now in, describing it as “disgusting” and counterintuitive in consideration of the intent of the law. which he voted for.

The purpose of the law as he described it is not only to protect the tenants but to prevent landlords from going bankrupt.

“Actions like that are what cause further cases of homelessness,” he said. “That building is a nice building. It’s not a luxury building, but I’m sure the apartments can be sold for a considerable sum of money. I do not detest people who try to make money, but I do if they try to serve it on the backs of working people, especially at the risk of making people homeless. “

Brill claims that Glacier does not accept the ERAP payments because they did not log on to the program in that building. She also pointed out that because the Perry Ave. building is a cooperative, Glacier has no intentions of renewing the leases on the apartments whose shares the private equity firm owns.

But under state law, both the tenant and the landlord must participate in the ERAP application process, according to Anthony Farmer, a spokesman for the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which administers ERAP. Until both parties participate in that process, a payment cannot be issued, he noted.

Brill claims that Glacier’s participation in the process was essentially equivalent to the company sending OTDA an acknowledgment that it owns the property – a letter which also contained its intention not to participate in ERAP because the building is a cooperative.

When Farmer was asked for details of Urquiza and Ramos’ cases, Farmer refused to provide them because the agency is prohibited from sharing the information with the public.

Glacier, Brill claimed, has made “fantastic” offers to sell the units to their tenants – with financing of up to 95%.

“We are not evil landowners. We are not bad people,” she said. “We are not allowed to renew their leases. This is not a rental building. “

She said units occupied by tenants should now go to co-op members to help pay for repairs desperately needed in the building, and she also accused Urquiza of “playing the system”, pointing out that he appealed his own already approved ERAP Application.

Urquiza, who lost his job at LaGuardia Airport during the pandemic and now works for the West Bronx Housing and Neighborhood Resource Center, an advocacy group for renters, said he used his savings to pay his rent, but when the money dried up he was out able to maintain its payments.

He claims he appealed his ERAP award because it was not enough to pay his rent.

The alternative that Brill has offered to buy his home is to move out – and Urquiza said it leaves him with few options because he can not afford the payout or is being approved for a mortgage.

“They are not giving us any deal,” he said.

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