Rangel Latest Exposed Lining His Own Pockets
While aggressive evictions make rent-stabilized apartments increasingly scarce in New York, Rep. Charles Rangel, (D-NY) is enjoying FOUR of them, with 3 adjacent apartments in a sprawling penthouse overlooking Upper Manhattan, courtesy of one of New Yorks premier real estate developers. One of them is used, against the rules, as his campaign HQ
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, six-tower luxury development with doormen that is described in real estate publications as Harlems most prestigious address.
The current market-rate rent for similar apartments in the 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 them 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 Olnicks 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 boisterous critic of other landlords callousness, has been uncharacteristically reticent about Olnicks actions.
State officials and city housing experts interviewed by The New York Times said that, while the law does not prohibit 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 Ive never heard of any tenant managing to get four.
Mr. Rangels use of the fourth apartment as an office, in addition to his 2,500-square-foot penthouse, was especially troubling to some advocates, given the citys chronic shortage of housing for low- and moderate-income residents.
Whether its 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 the particulars of Mr. Rangels situation when he was interviewed.
Mr. Rangel, who was first elected to Congress in 1970 and is one of the citys 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 governors father, pays $868 per month for his apartment there, in the same building as Mr. Rangels apartments, according to state records.
Percy E. Sutton , the former Manhattan borough president and a longtime ally and friend of Mr. Rangels, also lives at Lenox Terrace, though records about his rent were not available.