Residents of two of the tallest apartment buildings in the Bronx may soon receive a steep increase in rent.
RY Management, the managing agent for Tracey Towers on 20/40 W. Mosholu Parkway, has filed an application with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to raise rents by at least 60 percent over the next two years.
The complex is Mitchell-Lama regulated, which means its rents are kept fixed to provide affordable housing to middle-income residents. Tracey Towers tenants say a rent hike that steep would be a violation of those ideals, while RY contends the increase is needed to keep up with maintenance costs.
A public hearing with HPD at the Towers in scheduled for Monday, June 6. A ruling on the rent increase is expected shortly thereafter.
Sam Gillian, vice president of the Tracey Towers Tenants’ Association, has lived in a two-bedroom apartment in the rental-only complex for 31 years. The complex has existed for 35 years.
“If it’s Mitchell-Lama regulated, it’s supposed to be affordable housing,” said the 72-year-old Gillian. “We’re saying the increase would actually destroy the middle class here.”
According to RY Management, rent would go up 25.53 percent this July, another 20.39 percent in July 2012, and finally 16.9 percent in July 2013.
Gillian hypothesized that the company’s technique is to name such a high figure that it would make a lower increase seem like a good compromise.
“Technically I can tell you that in my personal opinion, I don’t think the landlord is trying to get that high an increase,” Gillian said. “If they put in those three increases, they figure they’ll get 33 percent and we’re supposed to be happy with that.”
Residents have repeatedly said the increase would not only force them out of the building, but out of the neighborhood.
The tenants association is enlisting local elected officials to hold HPD to the Mitchell-Lama standard, a technique it has been used in the past.
Senator Gustavo Rivera and Councilwoman Naomi Rivera hosted a town hall meeting at Tracey Towers on Wednesday, May 25 to discuss the proposed increase and possible courses of action.
According to RY Management spokesman Don Miller, Tracey Towers rents average about $1,290 per apartment, compared to an average of $1,610 per room in Mitchell-Lama buildings citywide.
“The increase is based on what it costs to run the building,” Miller said. “Nobody wants to pay higher prices for anything. The price of heating oil has gone up and most of the increases are to address health and safety issues.”
Tracey Towers residents, meanwhile, have until Monday, June 6 to make their case.