Published: Autumn 2013
To be successful in promoting
the needs of housing cooperatives
and condominiums and
protecting their interests, CNYC and
its sister organizations seek consistently
to make lawmakers and government
officials aware of our issues,
and of how important cooperatives
and condominiums are to the stability
of their communities and the City
as a whole. When a number of organizations
work together, their impact
is increased and a group effort can
often accomplish what one organization
could not have done alone.
MAYORAL CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS
In April, six key New York City organizations
for cooperatives and condominiums
met to decide how best
to learn what candidates for Mayor
thought about issues important to
New York City cooperatives and condominiums
and their residents.
The group invited each of the candidates
to a one-on-one video interview.
CNN journalist Myron Kandel agreed to
moderate these interviews, and candidates
were contacted with many choices
of studio time. Naturally, they all have
busy schedules, and sometimes conflicts
arose at the last minute to prevent scheduled
In the end, five Mayoral candidates
came to meet with us. Please visit the
CNYC website at www.CNYC.coop and
spend some time viewing the interviews
that Mr. Kandel did with Sal Albanese, Adolfo
Carrion, John Catsimatidis, John Liu
and Christine Quinn.
Included with the invitation to each candidate
was the position statement in the
box to the right, which you may find helpful
as you prepare to be the best possible advocate
for your cooperative or condominium
when talking with Mayoral hopefuls as
well as with candidates for City Council,
for Borough President or for Comptroller
or Public Advocate.
Once election day has passed,
CNYC will begin the task of getting to
know newly elected officials and the
staffs that they will appoint, and will
try to help them become familiar with
and responsive to these key issues
and others that arise that are important
to cooperatives and condominiums.
Your help in doing the same will make
us all the more effective.
WHY WE NEED MAYORAL CANDIDATES TO THINK ABOUT
HOUSING COOPERATIVES AND CONDOMINIUMS
Housing cooperatives and condominiums are the home of more than
500,000 New York City families, at every level of the economic spectrum.
Today, cooperatives and condominiums are found throughout the City, providing
opportunity for home ownership that is affordable: shared space and
building systems bring economies of scale, enable members of cooperative
and condominium communities to live comfortably at reasonable cost, and
provides each shareholder and unit owner with the opportunity to participate
in the governance of their home. Another benefit of cooperative living is more
modest energy demand and thus a smaller carbon footprint as compared
with individual private dwellings.
But cooperatives and condominiums are indeed multiple dwellings, and,
as such, we are subject to many requirements, filings, registrations, all well
intentioned, of course, but many placing significant financial burdens on the
resident owners. It is our hope that the next administration will address
these unfunded mandates, and will seek ways to mitigate their impact. Ways
need to be found to distinguish this form of owner occupied and governed
housing from rental buildings.
For decades it has been acknowledged that the property tax system currently
in place in New York City imposes property taxes on home owners in
housing cooperatives and condominiums that are considerably higher than
the taxes paid by owners of one, two and three family homes of comparable
value. It is our hope that the next administration of the City of New York will
take a careful look at property taxes and seek a more equitable system.
It is vital to the long term vibrancy and viability of New York City that affordable
housing be consistently available to New Yorkers who work at the
modest jobs that fuel our tourist industry, our vast public transportation system,
the maintenance of our buildings, our roads, our bridges, and tunnels,
and those employed by government itself. New York cannot be allowed to
devolve into a city of the very rich and the very poor. We strongly believe that
cooperative and condominium home ownership – self-governing, energyconscious,
strongly committed to this city and to the local community – can
and should be an important part of the answer to this need. As a candidate
for Mayor of the City of New York, we ask you to share your views with our
- The Action Committee For Reasonable Real Estate Taxes
- The Association of Riverdale Cooperatives (ARC)
- The Coordinating Council of Cooperatives (CCC)
- The Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC)
- The Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives and Condominiums (FNYHC)
- The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB)
NEED OUR SUPPORT
Recent events have made us aware of
problems where change must be made
to bring improvement. Three examples
follow that are vitally important to CNYC
members. Through the National Association
of Housing Cooperatives (NAHC),
CNYC is working on these important
goals. To enhance our effectiveness,
we work with several Washington based
partners including the Community Associations
Institute (CAI) and the National
Cooperative Business Association (NCBA
CLUSA). Their broad constituencies are
helpful in gathering support for our goals
and in dispelling the concept that any of
these is purely a New York issue.
FOR FEMA RECOVERY GRANTS
Prior to tropical storm Sandy, very few
housing cooperatives or condominiums
have been victims of natural disasters
where FEMA rushes in to provide relief.
Last fall, it was learned that cooperatives
and condominiums could not get FEMA
grants to restore or replace building systems
that had been devastated by Sandy.
This because FEMA, with its limited
experience with this form of home ownership,
interpreted the Stafford Act–its
enabling legislation – to categorizes cooperatives
and condominiums as businesses.
Many CNYC members were affected
by the storm. Basements and ground
floors were flooded, destroying boilers,
lifting fuel tanks and water heaters from
their moorings, Roofs, skylights and
windows ere damaged or destroyed,
downed trees further damaged buildings
or blocked paths and roadways. Salt water
corroded electrical wiring and subsequently
destroyed more building systems.
FEMA came quickly and worked hard to
help disaster victims. Grants were readily
available to individuals to fix the insides
of their units, but these were of little use
when the building itself was uninhabitable
due to the destruction of heating plant,
electrical system, roof, etc. But no funds
were forthcoming from FEMA to make the
buildings themselves operable again.
Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative
Steve Israel sprang into action..
Mr. Schumer arranged for HUD to
dedicate millions of dollars of block grants
to help fund recovery. Mr. Israel rallied
25 colleagues in Congress who wrote
to FEMA and to the head of Homeland
Security, asking for a change in policy.
It was soon determined that legislation
would be needed to modify the Robert T.
Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency
Assistance Act to recognize cooperatives
and condominiums as homes eligible for
FEMA recovery grants.
On July 29th, Representative Israel
introduced H.R. 2887 to correct this inequity.
Many New York legislators are
cosponsors of this important legislation.
If your representative is not among them,
please ask that they support this legislation.
Senator Schumer introduced companion
legislation (S.1480) in the Senate
on August 1, 2013.
It is important that Congress not consider
this a New York/New Jersey law.
There are cooperatives and condominiums
all across the nation that should support
this legislation. If you have friends in
other states who live in cooperatives or
condominiums, please call their attention
to H.R. 2887/S. 1480. Have them ask
their lawmakers to support this legislation.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks
on September 11, 2001, insurance costs
rose steeply and it became virtually impossible
to insure some buildings against
acts of terrorism, particularly in likely target
cities such as New York and Washington.
In response, Congress passed the Terrorism
Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) in 2002.
It requires private insurance companies
to provide terrorism insurance at reasonable
rates, but protects them from massive
losses by creating this 'backstop' program
which would fund a significant portion of
payment due in the event of massive acts
of terrorism. Fortunately, the program has
never had to be implemented, but its existence
has enabled buildings to be insured
against acts of terrorism. TRIA was reauthorized
in 2005 and again in 2007, but it
is now due to sunset at the end of 2014.
If this were to occur, terrorism insurance
would likely again become unavailable or
On May 23, 2013 Representative
Michael Capuano of Massachusetts introduced
H.R. 2146, the Terrorism Risk
Insurance Reauthorization Act. It has
30 prime cosponsors from 15 states all
across the nation. It will extend TRIA
through December 31, 2024 and requires
reports in 2017, 2020, and 2023 on the
findings of the President's Working Group
on Financial Markets pursuant to an ongoing
analysis regarding the long-term
availability and affordability of (market
conditions for) terrorism risk insurance.
The sooner the extension can become
law the better, so that insurance
premiums don't skyrocket in anticipation
of the loss of this back-up program. Representative
Carolyn Maloney is a prime
co-sponsor of this legislation. She testified
before the City Council Committee
on State and Federal Legislation in support
of a resolution urging the Congress
to pass and the President to sign H.R.
2146. Representative Maloney encourages
similar Resolutions from other cities
and states to spur extension of TRIA.
CNYC regularly receives calls from seniors
on fixed income who are struggling
to pay the maintenance on their cooperative
units. If they lived in private homes or
in condominiums, they would be eligible
for reverse mortgages, whereby a lender
provides funds based on a percentage of
the value of the home, applies interest to
what is owed, but doesn't seek to collect
any payment until the borrower leaves
their home. Reverse mortgages enable
seniors to live on in their homes as long
as they are able.
Through the efforts of the National
Association of Housing Cooperatives
(NAHC), Congress passed legislation
in 1999 authorizing reverse mortgages
for cooperatives. HUD was to produce
regulations governing these transaction.
The HUD regulations would make the
loans saleable to the secondary market.
We still await them.
There was a time when some lenders
were making reverse mortgage loans on
cooperative shares, but none have been
available for the last three years.
As the NAHC continues its efforts to
persuade HUD to put forth the necessary
regulations, it is felt that specific
personal stories may help make the
case. If you or someone you know could
benefit from a reverse mortgage on their
cooperative, please send CNYC a brief
description of the situation, with specifics
including name and address. This
information will be held confidential and
will be shared only with those government
officials whose help is needed.