Tenant Emergency: Don’t Panic. Do organize.

Posted by paulnewell on June 15, 2015
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tenant emeregency



As you probably have heard, rent regulations are set to expire today if the NYS legislature does not come to a deal.  We are still pushing hard for stronger rent laws before midnight, but if Albany fails to do so, here’s some of what you need to know.

1)   If you are a rent stabilized tenant, do not panic.  Your current lease is still valid.  If your lease expires before September 13, 2015, you are entitled to a renewal under current laws.  Most likely a deal will be reached in the next few days that will cover any retroactive periods.  Do not move-out or vacate the apartment.

2)   If your landlord is harassing you, threatening to raise your rent, or invalidate or not renew your lease he or she is breaking the law.  Call 311 immediately to report the harassment.  You can also call the Met Council on Housing at 212-979-0611 or Public Advocate Letitia James at 212-669-7250 with any questions.

3)   If you are a rent controlled tenant (as opposed to stabilized) you are protected under NYC laws which do not expire until 2018.
Finally, while it is grossly irresponsible of Albany to put NYC tenants through this high-stakes stress – it is essential that we keep the pressure up.  Please call Governor Cuomo now at 518-474-8390 to demand stronger rent laws – including the full repeal of Vacancy Decontrol.  Then contact your Assembly members at http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem and your State Senator at http://www.nysenate.gov/senators to demand the same.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted as this vital fight progresses.


UPDATE: The NYC Dept. of Housing, Preservation & Development has posted a useful “what you need to know” for tenants worried about the rent law expiration. – http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/renters/tenants-rights.page

Paul Newell rallies to strengthen rent laws


Paul Newell speaks at rally to strengthen rent laws

Tell Albany: Protect Tenants & Close the LLC Loophole

Posted by paulnewell on May 29, 2015
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Albany’s legislative session is scheduled to close on June 17th.  Below I highlight two related issues still in the balance that can have a huge impact on the lives of New Yorkers.

Strengthen Tenant Protections

Most essential, especially in Lower Manhattan, is renewal and strengthening of rent regulations.  2.5 Million New Yorkers depend on these protections.  Our neighbors and our neighborhoods need these laws to be strengthened this year.

The Assembly has passed an excellent package of rent reforms.  Now they must stand firm in the face of opposition from big real estate donors (see below).  Please contact your Assembly member today at http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/ to tell them not to compromise on this vital issue.  The GOP-led State Senate has been less friendly to tenants.  Please contact your State Senator at http://www.nysenate.gov/senators to ask them to pass real rent reform.

Most legislators really do respond to hearing from their constituents.  In fact, on June 9th, we’ll be traveling to Albany to tell them in person.  Buses will be departing at 7AM from all over the city to flood Albany with tenants demanding protections.  If you can make it, please contact Mia McDonald at mia.r.mcdonald@gmail.com to RSVP or for more info.  I hope to see you there.

Close the LLC Loophole

Yesterday, the NY State Senate again blocked a vote on a bill championed by our State Senator Daniel Squadron closing the so-called “LLC loophole”.  This enables Limited Liability Corporations – the preferred corporate structure of NY’s real estate industry – to make unlimited contributions to elected officials.

The same billionaire named in the indictments of legislative leaders of both parties this year also doles out millions via the LLC loophole.  Make no mistake: these are smart business people.  They are spreading this cash to raise your rent and raise your taxes.

Please sign this petition today to support Sen. Squadron’s bill to close the LLC Loophole.

There are many other issues on the table as well, including key ethics reforms.  I’ll continue to keep you posted as we work for an honest, progressive government for all New Yorkers.  Thank you.

Join me to Celebrate my 40th Birthday on May 20th

Posted by paulnewell on April 22, 2015
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I want to invite you to join me on the evening of May 20th as I celebrate my 40th birthday with friends and neighbors.  While I’m looking forward to kicking off a new decade, I’m even more excited that our neighborhood, and our State, are poised to enter a new era of inclusive political representation.  

Reserve your tickets today at: http://NewellNYC.org/40 
It’s going to be a great time, with great people.  I’d love to celebrate with you.  Details are below.


Villager Op-Ed: Funding challenges in a new political landscape

Posted by paulnewell on April 22, 2015
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As scandals continue to shake the status quo in Albany, it’s vital that we respond as a state and as a community.  A few months ago, I wrote an Op-Ed for the Daily News about a new ethical approach for Albany.  Today, I have a piece in the Villager newspaper’s annual Progress Report about how some of these changes will impact Lower Manhattanites – and what we can do about it.

You can see The Villager story below, or at  http://thevillager.com/2015/04/16/funding-challenges-in-a-new-political-landscape.

Growing through these changes will be a communal process, so please let me know your thoughts by replying to this email or commenting on my Facebook page.



Funding challenges in a new political landscape

BY PAUL NEWELL   |  For the past two decades, Lower Manhattan’s impressive network of nonprofits and social service organizations has benefitted from representation at the highest levels of New York State government. That era appears to be at an end. It is essential that we find new and creative ways to fund these programs. Equally crucial is that we advocate for a better and more equitable funding system for the future.

Though many of us recognized the system’s flaws, having our assemblymember as one of the “Three Men in a Room” has brought significant tangible benefits to our community. That dynamic has already begun to change as new leadership in the Assembly prioritizes other needs and other communities. Vital institutions like Gouverneur Health, venerable century-old settlement houses and Manhattan Youth, as well as smaller community groups, are rightfully concerned. Changes in Albany could lead to the loss of important programs, contracts and revenue. Indeed, the Lower East Side-based Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty — one of the largest social service agencies in the city — is likely to disband this year.

Surviving these changes — and growing through them — will be one of the premier challenges facing Lower Manhattan in the years ahead. In the short term, there will be hard work and hard choices. Leaders like state Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Brian Kavanagh, and Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez will have to redouble their efforts and advocacy. Unfortunately, stingy Republican leadership makes it unlikely that Congress will step into the gap. One key area where the feds must be pushed is on long-term storm resiliency for Lower Manhattan and New York Harbor.

Most of our community organizations will have to significantly step up their efforts to secure private and foundation funding — a process that many of them are already engaged in. Where shortfalls remain — and some will — organizations may have to consolidate services and, in some cases, cut them back. This will involve real pain for our neighbors and for these groups’ dedicated staffs.

Fortunately, we still have a great deal going for us in Lower Manhattan. As one of the world’s most dynamic communities, located in the heart of our nation’s economic engine, the importance of a thriving Lower Manhattan cannot be denied by leadership in Albany or Washington.

Leveraging these strengths will require energetic advocacy and innovative solutions. We will have to persuade the dozens of Fortune 500 companies based in our neighborhood that the continuing health of the surrounding community is in their interest. We’re also going to have to be more creative in how we work with real estate developers to support local programs. One coming test of this will be securing the South St. Seaport Museum’s sustainable operation plan without compromising the historic character of the district.

So, there will be pain, but there will also be solutions. Lower Manhattanites have time and again proven ourselves resilient, and this time will be no different.

As we go forward, this must also become an opportunity to push for a better model of social service funding for all New Yorkers. Our current pickle is yet more evidence that allocating government resources based on who sits in what chair in Albany is arbitrary, irrational and poor policy. An even playing field — where social service funds are distributed to organizations based on community needs and provable outcomes — will serve Lower Manhattan and all of New York far better over the long term. Many of us have long known this. Now it is in our neighborhood’s interest to fight for it.

This Week: Stengthening Rent Regs & Love Saves the East Village

Posted by paulnewell on April 14, 2015
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I wanted to invite you to two important community events I’m involved in this week.

Tomorrow evening, I’ll be speaking at a panel on New York’s rent regulation laws – and the grave danger our community faces with their pending expiration this June. Rent regulation is the single largest piece in New York’s affordability puzzle. Along with NYCHA, Mitchell-Lama, and other housing programs, rent regulation is what makes it possible for working and middle class New Yorkers to survive here. Their potential expiration is nothing short of an existential threat to our neighborhoods.

Please join at this important panel tomorrow night, Wednesday, April 15th, from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at D.C. 9, 45 W. 14th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues.   The panel is free, though donations are being accepted. Please RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-rent-is-too-damn-high-tickets-16179312760.

Billed as a “A No Holds Barred Discussion On The Expiring Rent Laws” the panel is organized by Shiftspark, and will be moderated by State Senator Gustavo Rivera. I’ll be joined on the panel by Ilana Maier, Program Director of Metropolitan Council on Housing and Delsenia Glover, Campaign Manager at Tenants and Neighbors. We’ll also hear from Assembly member Keith Wright, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, on where the fight stands in Albany and Jon Reznick of Competitive Advantage Research on the real estate industry’s pursuit of political influence through political contributions.

Then, this Saturday, April 18th from 11AM-7PM, I am co-hosting LOVE SAVES THE EAST VILLAGE, a community benefit event for the people displaced by the 2nd Avenue Fire. It’s being hosted and organized by La Palapa Cocina Mexicana at 77 St. Marks Place (just west of 1st Ave). We’ll have live music all day from some of NYC’s best artists. La Palapa’s famous Antojitos will be served all day as well. Tickets are $25 at the door and will benefit the work of our neighbors at Good Old Lower East Side with help from The Little Missionary Day Nursery and Middle Collegiate Church. All proceeds from the cash bar will also go to the effort.  More information at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1589978147887020.

I hope to see you at one or both of these important events for our community.

I Am Because You Are – The Story of Ubuntu

Posted by paulnewell on March 15, 2015
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I am because you are

Before I was a District Leader, I worked for six years with Ubuntu Education Fund to help break the cycle of HIV, abuse and poverty in South Africa.  Ubuntu is one of the most effective and remarkable organizations in the world – committed to the concept that all children deserve the resources needed to succeed.

Now my good friend and Ubuntu Education Fund founder, Jacob Lief, has written a book about Ubuntu, the communities we work in, and how to build a better model for development.  It is beautifully written, and a must-read for anyone concerned with fighting global poverty and disease.  The book, I Am Because You Are, has a foreward from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and is available for preorder at: http://www.iambcyouare.com.

Ubuntu’s model of development is different from many others.  It doesn’t seek to distribute a few resources as widely as possible.  Rather, Ubuntu recognizes that every child is worthy of investment.  And the results have been stunning.  I Am Because You Are sketches this path beautifully.  Please pre-order a copy today.  You won’t regret it.  Thank you.

NYCHA Albany Takeover – Monday, March 16th

Posted by paulnewell on March 13, 2015
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NYCHA Lobby Day 3-16-15

More than 600,000 New Yorkers live in NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) homes. It is an essential part of our affordable housing network. Here in the Lower East Side, NYCHA is a vital bulwark for keeping our neighborhood as the diverse, dynamic place we love. And, of course, it is woefully underfunded. A recent New York Times study showed $18 Billion in unfunded capital needs.

This Monday, March 16th, many of us will head to Albany to demand that NYCHA’s urgent fiscal needs are addressed in this year’s NY State budget. The “Lobby Day” will include a rally and meetings with our elected officials and their staffs. Organizers will train you and give you information for those meetings. Nothing moves legislators so much as a busload of angry constituents.

Organized and funded by our friends at GOLES and the Tenant Associations of Smith, Rutgers, Vladeck and Baruch Houses in the Lower East Side, free buses to join the “Lobby Day” will leave at 7:30 AM Monday morning from the following locations:

Gouverneur and Madison Streets
Delancey and Columbia Streets
54 Catherine Street (at Madison Street) and
Avenue C. and East 6th Street

Some food will be provided, and you should be back in the neighborhood by 6PM. The organizers need to know by the end of Sunday, March 15. if you can make it. To reserve a seat or for more information, contact the Vladeck Houses Tenant Association at 9177639271 or VladeckTA@aol.com or Ginger Lopez at GOLES at  212-358-1231 or mayzabeth@goles.org.

Together, we can improve all of our homes and our neighborhood.


Happy Year of the Ram! – How to celebrate in Chinatown NYC!

Posted by paulnewell on February 19, 2015
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Wishing you and your family
a joyous, healthy and prosperous
Year of the Ram 4713!

Chinese New Year
Below are a few events around Chinatown NYC where you can join the celebrations.

Today, February 19th, 11 AM – New Years Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival – Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, Grand Street between Chrystie and Forsyth Streets – This is the official firecracker ceremony celebrating the Year of the Ram. Organized by our friends at Better Chinatown USA and the Chinatown Partnership. After the ceremony is over, check out the cultural festival booths.

Today, February 19th, 12:30 PM – Lunar New Year Performances62 Mott Street, Basement – Cultural performances by young students and others at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association

Sunday, February 22nd, 1PM – Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival
Begins at Canal/Mott Street and ends at SDR Park (Grand Street) – The largest Lunar New Year parade in America, line up early along the parade route to get a good view of lion and dragon dancers, performers, floats. Afterward, check out festival booths at SDR Park, or just walk around the neighborhood for more dances and celebrations. Route and details at:

Parade Route:

parade route

Saturday, February 28th, 11AM-4PMMOCAFAMILY: Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street. Family fun with lion dances, participatory Lunar New Year crafts and more. Tickets and details at: http://www.mocanyc.org/visit/events/lunar_new_year_family_festival_0.

Sunday, March 1st, 12PM – United Fujianese American Association Lantern Festival –
88 East Broadway to Chatham Square. – A parade and street performances in the Fujianese tradition.

Sunday, March 1st, 12:30PM – Chinatown Tenants Union Lunar New Year Banquet – Foo Chow Restaurant (68 East Broadway) – Celebrate the new year with the Chinatown Tenants Union and CAAAV. Eat an amazing meal and support some of NYC’s most fearless and effective tenant and community advocates. For tickets or more info, contact Wai Yee at wpoon@caaav.org or call at 212-473-6485.

March 5-7th, 7PM – Lantern Festival Performances at the Chen Dance Center – 70 Mulberry Street, 2nd Floor. Tickets and details at: http://www.chendancecenter.org.

The Downtown Express has a good roundup of street closures at http://www.downtownexpress.com/2015/02/17/transit-sam-week-of-feb-19-2015-lunar-new-year/

As always, I encourage you to celebrate by eating at some of Chinatown’s amazing restaurants. Walk around and see what grabs your fancy, or email me for some of my personal recommendations.

Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Healthcare Deadline: February 15th

Posted by paulnewell on February 03, 2015
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PN MetroPlus

The deadline for most of us to apply for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (also known as “ObamaCare”) is Sunday, February 15th. If you already have insurance through the ACA, Feb. 15th is also the deadline to switch plans this year.

This is not the last day anyone can sign-up for ObamaCare. It’s the last day for “open enrollment” this year.  If you have a qualifying “life event” that requires you to change you coverage you will be able to sign up later.

But for most of us, now is the time to act. If you’re uninsured or want to change your plan in New York, sign up today at https://NYStateOfHealth.ny.gov/ If you’re not in NY, start your search at HealthCare.gov. You’ll be surprised at how affordable many of the plans are. The vast majority of New Yorkers who applied were eligible for state-funded Medicaid plans or significant federal subsidies. On the flip-side, many people will be subject to tax-penalties if they remain uninsured.

Health insurance is a complicated thing. If the application process seems daunting, I recommend you contact a certified Health Care Navigator (it won’t cost you a penny). In Lower Manhattan, you can find one at the Henry Street Settlement, the Chinese-American Planning Council, the LGBT Community Center, or find one through the NY State of Health site. You can also call NY State of Health at 855-355-5777 (but expect a long wait time there).

A few years on, the Affordable Care Act is a smashing success – one that I am proud to have played a small role in bringing about. Well over a million New Yorkers have gotten health insurance through the law. More than 25,000 of them are here in Lower Manhattan – including me. Nationwide the percent of Americans without insurance has been slashed, healthcare related financial-stress is down, and the costs have come in well below predictions.

But too many of us are still uninsured. If you can help spread the word about ObamaCare to uninsured neighbors, please join me, Downtown East for Change, Get Covered, and others on Tuesday, February 10th from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM. RSVP and info at: https://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/gs8bm5.

Living uninsured puts you, your family, and our communities at risk.  Please take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity before the deadline. Thank you.

To your health…


Daily News Op-Ed: Shelly’s arrest has a silver lining

Posted by paulnewell on January 26, 2015
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In response to the arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, I wrote the following Op-Ed for the Daily News.  You can read it below, or at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/paul-newell-shelly-arrest-silver-lining-article-1.2089963.


Shelly’s arrest has a silver lining:
Maybe the turmoil will finally move the needle toward reform in Albany

The culture of corruption in Albany is well known. For a generation, we’ve watched dozens of legislators arrested and tawdry headlines dominate coverage of our state capital. As the longest serving member of the fabled “three men in a room” club that dominates New York government, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been a central figure in that culture. The old story continued on Thursday as Silver was arrested on charges of official corruption, mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion.

If true, the charges are a shocking betrayal of New Yorkers.

Silver’s role may finally be coming to an end. Or not. He would hardly be alone as an indicted member of the Legislature. But our goal should be not to purge a few bad actors, but to end the culture of corruption as thoroughly as possible. Not just because corruption is immoral, but because it impoverishes all of us.

As a district leader in Silver’s lower Manhattan district, I see this every day. District leaders are elected, unpaid hyper-local representatives. The position has little formal power, but can be a powerful force for organizing communities. Much of the work involves advocating for tenants in danger of losing rent protection, parents seeking quality schools and residents in need of livable streets.

Time after time, our community and others around the city and state organize to oppose or improve massive luxury real-estate projects. Every time, elected officials say progressive, pro-community things in public forums. And virtually every time the developers and landlords get their way behind closed doors.

Opening those doors is not just about a few million dollars allegedly paid to an Assembly speaker by walthy interests with business before the state. It’s about a government that serves all of us.

The policies governing 20 million New Yorkers are largely written in secret. Not only by the three men, but by the people who buy their way into that room. Unsurprisingly, those policies routinely leave New York’s tenants, low-wage workers, children, parents and homeowners behind.

Consider the secret, last-minute exemption of five luxury Manhattan towers from most property taxes — including one where a condo just sold for over $100 million. The legislation doing so was slipped into a must-pass budget bill just hours before the vote.

The tab for this hundred-million-dollar giveaway will be paid by you and me for decades.

We can no longer afford this kind of governance. Silver’s arrest opens a window of opportunity. We may finally have momentum to end corruption in Albany both legal and illegal. The recipe is well known:

A ban on all outside income for New York’s legislators. We can even offer legislators a pay increase to sweeten the deal. Given the millions we lose to corruption, such a raise would be cheap at twice the price.

Public financing of elections. Billionaires like the mysterious “Developer 1” in Silver’s indictment (said to be Leonard Litwin, who has given millions to the state’s politicians), give elected officials virtually unlimited campaign contributions. In return, they get millions in special breaks not available to the rest of us. Only by publicly financing elections can we break our legislators’ dependency on the rich few.

An open and transparent legislative process. Working people will never get a fair shake in secret meetings. Legislation must be openly and honestly debated — and last minute insertions should be severely restricted. That’s basic civics.

There’s more to be done, but these reforms would go a long way to giving New Yorkers our government back.

It is said that the three top reasons for a New York State legislator to vacate his or her seat are death, indictment and retirement, in that order. Let’s seize this opportunity to end that culture of corruption. New Yorkers deserve a Speaker whose tenure closes with the clinking of champagne glasses, not of handcuffs.