It is no news that finding housing in this city is not easy under the best of circumstances. Should those circumstances change, here are some resources to help you stay in your neighborhood and avoid shelter. We write regularly about housing, so check back here for the latest stories and resources, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a story to tell. Please do share this with your friends and neighbors.
The basics of being a tenant. A little while ago we compiled a comprehensive list with the Flatbush Tenants Coalition that will tell you things you should know and rights you have, as well as who to turn for help and advice, if you’re like most people in Brooklyn and rent your apartment. Here are the highlights:
- Find out if your building is rent regulated. If you signed a lease that looks like this, then your apartment is rent stabilized. Also, any building built before 1974 with six or more units in it is generally rent stabilized.
- Get your rent history. If your apartment is rent stabilized, you have the right to obtain a history of rent charged for your apartment. When an apartment is vacated, landlords are only allowed to raise the rent by a certain percentage, but there’s very little oversight. And if rent reaches $2,500/month, the apartment becomes unregulated, so they have an incentive to cheat. By obtaining your history, you can try to determine if your landlord is charging you an illegally high amount.
- Research whether your landlord has any current housing court cases.
- Find out if there’s a tenant association in your building. If there isn’t, consider starting one.
- Know the difference between rent stabilized and rent controlled.
- Know what “affordable housing” really means.
- Know your rights as a tenant.
- Understand that the conditions you live in may not be the conditions your neighbor in the next apartment over lives in.
Flatbush Tenants Coalition is an excellent resource should the landlord be trying to get you to move. Their role is to support and help build tenant associations, and educate residents about their rights as tenants. It operates under Flatbush Development Corporation. They may be able to help if what you need is:
- Helping tenants organize their buildings
- Providing peer mentorship and support, where FTC members share their experiences & knowledge with other member buildings
- Providing tenants-rights and political education, including information about national, state, and city housing agencies, regulations, and laws; and the role of elected officials and community boards
- Working with tenant associations to develop building campaigns to obtain repairs, maintenance, and/or address other issues
- Helping tenant associations obtain pro bono lawyers
- Helping tenant associations document their successes
- Collaborating with other organizations on joint workshops and actions
- Conducting outreach in other buildings to grow the FTC
- Holding neighborhood-wide tenant meetings to provide information and call to action
- Identifying, planning, and taking part in neighborhood, city, state, and national tenants’ rights campaigns
- Fair Housing Justice Center – http://www.fairhousingjustice.org/
- South Brooklyn Legal Services – http://www.sbls.org/
- Legal Aid – http://www.legal-aid.org
- South Brooklyn Tenant Union – http://www.carrollgardensassociation.com/employing-a-childcare-provider/
Homebase is the City’s homelessness prevention effort, and there are offices in all 5 boroughs. In Brooklyn, and in our neighborhood CAMBA is one of the main providers of the services, helping find solutions that work for the individual or household in need. Among the services that may be offered are:
- Services to prevent eviction
- Assistance obtaining public benefits
- Emergency rental assistance
- Education and job placement assistance
- Financial counseling and money management
- Help relocating
- Short-term financial assistance
Here is a map of the locations, with contact numbers. CAMBA can be reached at 718-408-5766 in Flatbush or 718-408-5756 x37100 in Bedford Stuyvesant.
Reach Out Before You’re Forced Out of Your Home
- Find your nearest Homebase office at 311 Online
- Download the Homebase map
- View the schedule of Homebase information sessions
- Read the Homebase brochure in English and Spanish