Caretaker, Part II

In what promises to be a long tale, Margaret Hearn, a caretaker for two deceased sisters who has laid claim to their $291 a month, rent-controlled three-bedroom apartment on East 12th Street (see below), has given up her own $747 a month rent regulated apartment in Gramercy Park. She may be thinking that this move will help solidify her succession claim, but it is reminiscent of the days when squatters moved into vacant property and dared anyone to remove them.

                                     – Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association 

(Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)

 

Caretaker, Part I: “Can You Really Claim Two Rent Controlled Apartments?”

 

Margaret Hearn Gives Up $747-a-Month Apartment

By SUZANNE ROZDEBA

 

Margaret Hearn

Margaret Hearn has given up the $747-a-month Gramercy pad she was holding on to as security, while continuing to fight for her $291-a-month, rent-controlled three-bedroom on East 12th Street.

“I don’t want to be there, it’s not home to me,” Ms. Hearn said of the 300-square-foot alcove studio in Gramercy that she has kept for 20 years. She said it was a financial burden to pay for both apartments, and that “nasty comments” from those who read about her living situation persuaded her not to renew her lease, which expires Oct. 31.

Last month, she told The Local she was fighting to keep her East Village apartment because she believes she is the rightful heir to the two sisters who in 2008, she said, asked her to share it with them.

“Win or lose, this is my home. Not because I feel entitled to it, or that I earned it, or anything like that. This is where I’m connected because of my relationship to the ladies. They were my family, and the neighborhood is my family,” she said yesterday.

Among her naysayers is Gregory Bronner, founder of NYC Renters’ Alliance for Housing Choice, who told The Local that Ms. Hearn’s fight is “a travesty for New York,” and that rent regulations should be phased out, with moderate subsidies given to the “truly needy.” He believes rent-regulated apartments “should be available to all New Yorkers” when they enter the market.

“We believe that that apartment should no longer have succession rights. She should go back to her apartment in Gramercy. She should not be allowed to inherit. From a moral perspective, it would be better used for a middle-class family looking for housing,” he said.

Ms. Hearn shot back, “First off, this apartment would be chopped up into tiny bedrooms, and would charge $5,000 a month, I believe. It’s not a question of apartments’ availability; it’s the price of apartments that makes low-income tenants feel that we’re being pushed out. Mayor Bloomberg wants us to live in a box smaller than my college dorm room.”

Ms. Hearn disagreed with Mr. Bronner’s argument that rent-regulated apartments should be phased out, arguing that many “could never afford to live in the neighborhood they grew up in, the neighborhood they have roots to” if not for the right to inherit apartments from their parents. “They’re the shopper in the community, the people that come together when the community needs them, and they bring their different cultural influences to the community,” she said.

Ms. Hearn and a lawyer for her landlord are scheduled for a deposition on Oct. 26.

Source: The Local East Village

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