Rep. Rangel (NY) Wrangles 4 Rent Controlled Apartments for Offices / Penthouse
Update: July 15, 2008, 10:05 a.m.- Congressman Charlie Rangel is moving from the 4 Rent controlled Apartments turned offices
Hard to find an apartment in NY when you are a low income family? Talk to New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel who has four (4) of them. These Rent Controlled properties are for low income families and are specifically allocated as a primary residence, but when you are a powerful Democratic Congressman, and Chairman of the House and Ways and Means Committee, I guess the rules do apply to you. So as we speak 4 low income families are without housing because Charlie needs them for his offices as he is only worth upwards of 1.3 million dollars. I can't imagine how he can live on that!
New York Times -While aggressive evictions are reducing the number of rent-stabilized apartments in New York, Representative Charles B. Rangel is enjoying four of them, including three adjacent units on the 16th floor overlooking Upper Manhattan in a building owned by one of New York’s premier real estate developers.
Mr. Rangel, the powerful Democrat who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, uses his fourth apartment, six floors below, as a campaign office, despite state and city regulations that require rent-stabilized apartments to be used as a primary residence.
Mr. Rangel, who has a net worth of $566,000 to $1.2 million, according to Congressional disclosure records, paid a total rent of $3,894 monthly in 2007 for the four apartments at Lenox Terrace, a 1,700-unit luxury development of six towers, with doormen, that is described in real estate publications as Harlem’s most prestigious address.
The current market-rate rent for similar apartments in Mr. Rangel’s building would total $7,465 to $8,125 a month, according to the Web site of the owner, the Olnick Organization.
The Olnick Organization and other real estate firms have been accused of overzealous tactics as they move to evict tenants from their rent-stabilized apartments and convert the units into market-rate housing.
Tensions are especially inflamed in Harlem, where the rising cost of living and the arrival of more moneyed residents have triggered anxiety over the future of the historically black neighborhood. And Vantage Properties, a company established by Olnick’s former chief operating officer, has attracted billions in private equity financing by promising investors that it can aggressively convert tens of thousands of rent-stabilized apartments, many in Harlem.
Yet Mr. Rangel, a critic of other landlords’ callousness, has been uncharacteristically reticent about Olnick’s actions.
State officials and city housing experts said in interviews that while the law does not bar tenants from having more than one rent-stabilized apartment, they knew of no one else with four of them. Others suggested that the arrangement undermines the purpose of rent regulation.
“There are families who manage to get two, when one tenant marries another, things like that,” said Dov Treiman, a lawyer who publishes The Housing Court Reporter, a legal trade publication. “But I’ve never heard of any tenant managing to get four.”
Mr. Rangel’s use of the fourth apartment as an office, in addition to his 2,500-square-foot residence, was especially troubling to some advocates, given the city’s chronic shortage of housing for low- and moderate-income residents.
“Whether it’s an elected official or not, no one should have four apartments, especially when one is being used as an office,” said Michael McKee, treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee, who was not aware of Mr. Rangel’s situation when he was interviewed.
Mr. Rangel, who was first elected to Congress in 1970 and is one of the city’s most recognizable elected officials, has written and spoken extensively about his devotion to his home in Harlem, but does not appear to have ever publicly acknowledged that he has been permitted to lease four rent-stabilized apartments there. According to a public records database and interviews with neighbors, he has lived in the building since the early 1970s, but it is not clear when he amassed the four units.
Mr. Rangel, 78, declined to answer questions during a telephone interview, saying that his housing was a private matter that did not affect his representation of his constituents.
“Why should I help you embarrass me?” he said, before abruptly hanging up.
Olnick officials declined to discuss when or why they decided to permit Mr. Rangel to lease multiple rent-stabilized units. Asked why he had been allowed to use one as an office, Jeanette Bocchino, a spokeswoman for the company, replied: “This is a private matter for the Olnick Organization and Mr. Rangel to evaluate.”
Mr. Rangel is not the only prominent resident with a rent-stabilized apartment at Lenox Terrace. Gov. David A. Paterson told The New York Sun in May that he pays $1,250 for a rent-stabilized two-bedroom apartment in the complex that rents for $2,600 or more at market rates. Basil A. Paterson, the governor’s father, pays $868 per month for his apartment there, in the same building as Mr. Rangel’s apartments, according to state records. (Source New York Times )
Who is Congressmen Rangel? A Decorated War Here
Charles Bernard "Charlie" Range (born June 11, 1930) is an American politician. He has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1971, representing the Fifteenth Congressional District of New York (map). Rangel's district, the smallest in the country in geographic size, encompasses Upper Manhattan and includes such neighborhoods as Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, and part of the Upper West Side, as well as a small portion of Queens in the neighborhood of Astoria. In January 2007, he became chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He is the first African-American to chair the committee. Rangel earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service in the Korean War.
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