Working Families offers free rent to someone in “rental hell”

June 01, 2009 12:29PM

The Working Families party is trying to call attention to poor rental
conditions in the city and will award one person’s “rental hell” video with a
month of free rent.

The political party is calling for video submissions for its “Rental Hell Video Contest” of
rental horror stories in the city, like buildings with broken heating and landlords
who are impossible to get in touch with (see sample video below). The deadline for submissions
is Saturday. The winner will receive a month of free rent — up to $1,999
— paid by the party. And a group of finalists will have their
videos posted on the Working Families’ Web site.

The group, which includes community organizations, neighborhood activists and labor unions, is hoping the contest will draw attention to the need for
stronger rent laws, like repealing vacancy decontrol and protection for
former Mitchell-Lama building tenants. The videos are expected to go up
on the group’s Web site next weekend, according to Charles Lenchner,
director of online organizing at Working Families, and the winner will
likely be announced 10 days later.

All the videos have to include a call for rent reform in the city,
the contest’s rules state. And Lenchner said the contest is set up to
bring awareness to rental issues between now and June 22, when the New
York State Legislature will make a decision on passing several housing
bills. TRD