Mitchell-calmer: Clinton Hill co-op residents vote against privatization

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The results are in — and “in” is the result!

Residents of a Clinton Hill Mitchell-Lama co-op on Thursday voted against the chance to sell their apartments for hundreds of thousands of dollars by leaving the below-market-rate housing program, opting instead to keep their digs cheap for future generations, according to local officials.

To move forward with privatizing the St. James Towers at St. James Place and Lafayette Avenue, two-thirds of the building’s 326 units needed to say “aye” at the vote, but that didn’t happen, according to a spokeswoman for Public Advocate Letitia James, who had been urging the denizens to say “nay.”

Under Mitchell-Lama — a program created in the 1950s to encourage middle-income New Yorkers to stay in the city — co-op shares are fixed at a dirt-cheap five-figure sum, but the units at St. James Towers could go for around $800,000 on the open market.

Thursday’s result followed a heated rally that morning, where residents of faced off waving placards and trading jibes, with those in favor of leaving saying they wanted the opportunity to benefit from the windfall, and “stay” voters arguing that opting out would rob the gentrifying neighborhood of much-needed affordable housing and push out seniors who can’t afford to pay higher maintenance bills.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:35 pm, February 24, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Ian from Williamsburg says:
This is complete nonsense. If these people wanted to sell their apartment well below market, then do so and allow other residents to improve their lives and sell at market. Dumb people were clearly manipulated by Letitia James or are likely renting at market.
Feb. 24, 2017, 9:46 pm
Bob from Gravesend says:
The residents don't agree with Ian from Williamsburg, so they must be dumb. lol
Feb. 24, 2017, 10:33 pm
Bobbie from Bk says:
Yes, these people are tards. Do you want money? No, let's vote against that...
Feb. 25, 2017, 4:42 am
Fingeling Van Gina from Park Slope says:
I respect these people. They moved into their housing project when this neighborhood was just a trash dump full of crime. Times may change, but not these people. They hate change, they will just keep everything the way it was because they're unable to venture from their comfort zones. Even a little bit.
Feb. 25, 2017, 8:43 am
Judi from Cobble Hill says:
Wow! To turn down the chance of instant wealth on the principle of keeping a neighborhood affordable, forever? These residents should be commended and celebrated. Brava Tish James, too, for helping them come to the right decision, for now and for future generations. Sounds like a great place to live - a real community. I wish I could say the same for my community which has become unaffordable for so many, especially the young and the very old, with the new wealthy in Cobble Hill running down a chance to make it better, with more affordable units (however flawed the plan was for the LICH site). The deBlasio way of negotiating with communities and his flaws "affordable" policies are ruining neighborhoods without any assurances the so called "affordable" units are actually affordable for those who currently live there (a huge flaw in the AMI calculation for "affordable") nor will they remain affordable but for a handful of years (when presumably Dollar Bill will try to take a turn in the White House). Holding on to Mitchell Lama, and having that decision VOTED on by those who actually live there, is the right step for democracy, too. Congratulations to these courageous and generous people!
Feb. 25, 2017, 10:34 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Maybe they voted against selling their apartments because they didn't know where else in the city they could live at their income. Ever since both Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg became mayors, the cost of living has gone up in numerous NYC neighborhoods. Housing such as this is one of the few places they can afford to live. Also, the amount they would be compensated for selling them wouldn't even be enough to move back there as whoever would have had it after being privatized. To some, living somewhere good for making a lower income is more important than money. On a side note, I guess those that are mad at their decisions probably don't like the hard working and want to continue both the idea of Giuliani and Bloomberg to gentrify them out by raising rents on what was once affordable. At least Bill de Blasio seems to care about them and advocates for more affordable housing rather than less.
Feb. 25, 2017, 4:22 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
One important value in our society that insures happiness overy time is the idea that "money isn't everything." These people and their kin will be enjoying Brooklyn while the nay sayers above are living in nowhere Jersey. Good for these coop owners; good show!
Feb. 27, 2017, 8:32 am
Al from bed stuy says:
Mitchell Lama privatization should be illegal, it is robbery off the backs of taxpayers who have been subsidizing this housing for decades. Big up to St James for staying affordable in the ML program!
Feb. 27, 2017, 9:22 am
Can see from Can read says:
"Fingeling Van Gina" -- reported 3X. Bet it won't be removed.
Feb. 27, 2017, 9:28 am
John from Bushwick says:
Good for them for voting to stay affordable. However, I do wonder what the press response would have been if they had decided to privatize. I don't see anything inherently wrong with them deciding to monetize a valuable asset and make a ton of money that will have a real impact for them and their family, but at the end of the day (for M-L conversions going forward), how does that make them any different than a developer who wants to convert affordable housing into market rate rentals, or knock down an existing building to build luxury condos? Hard to complain about one decision and not the other.
Feb. 28, 2017, 2:27 pm

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