Trish Anderton, Goddard Riverside
Some 40 tenant activists and allies served Larry Gluck of Stellar Management, one of Manhattan’s Worst Evictors, with an “eviction notice” today at a boisterous rally outside his 156 William St. offices.
Over a recent two and a half year period, Stellar filed 630 lawsuits in an area of Manhattan where it rents to 1423 families – nearly one lawsuit for every two families.
“That’s abusing the system. That’s abusing Housing Court,” said Stellar Management tenant Sue Susman. “If you sue only because you think you’re going to win because the tenant doesn’t have a lawyer, that’s abusing the judicial system.”
Susman credited New York City’s groundbreaking 2017 Right to Counsel law, which guarantees low-income tenants a lawyer in Housing Court, with helping prevent evictions. “Because we have the Right to Counsel we have a better chance of keeping tenants in their homes now.”
Susman volunteers with the Goddard Riverside Law Project, which is a member of the Right to Counsel Coalition and represents RTC cases in court.
The Right to Counsel was signed into law in August 2017 after a three-year campaign by housing activists. New York is the first city in the nation to establish such a right, and other cities are now considering following suit. The model has proved powerful and almost everyone who fights their case with an attorney, wins.
Tenant activists across the city are highlighting some of New York’s Worst Evictors in events throughout the week to publicize the Right to Counsel and encourage tenants to fight evictions.
Tenant activist Sue Susman: “When [Gluck] went after one tenant; he said wasn’t living here because he had another address in the bronx, and he took him to court. He neglected to find out that that tenant’s previous house had burned down years ago. We won. Another tenant, born in our building, raised in our building, when both of her parents died within a year of each other he took her to court saying she didn’t have the right to succession. Almost 4 years of fighting later, she won. We win when we fight.”
Tenant activist Felix Ureña: “I cannot say enough about the Right to Counsel. This is the beginning of something big in NY because people will organize behind the right to counsel and they will win the battle. Organize, Organize, and never give up, never give in!”
Sandra Contreras, tenant organizer, Goddard Riverside Law Project: “Throwing families out on the street should not be a normal way of doing business. But in this city at this time, it’s part of a predatory business plan. We have Right to Counsel to help stop evictions, to organize to build power and to hold our state and city officials and the Housing Court accountable. But we need more! We need to expand Right to Counsel and we need to expand our organizing capacity. We’re calling on the city and the state to investigate these worst evictors.”
For more than 100 years, Goddard Riverside has been committed to investing in people and strengthening community by meeting New Yorkers’ most essential needs. Through 27 programs across 22 sites, Goddard Riverside provides comprehensive educational, cultural and recreational programs for New Yorker of all ages, including early childhood education, after school, employment support, college access, youth programs, homeless outreach, senior centers and legal assistance.