Tenant Audrey Smaltz – City Council Hearing Testimony

At a City Council hearing in January, Audrey Smaltz, a rent-stabilized tenant at 15 West 55th St., testified about the safety, security and quality of life concerns she and her neighbors have experienced as a result of illegal hotel activity in their building. Her testimony read, in part:

“That building has been my home and its tenants have been my neighbors for over 35 years.  For many years, everyone in the building knew one another, and there was a genuine sense of safety and community.  Now, things have changed a lot.  My friends and neighbors are being replaced by strangers and tourists thanks to websites like Airbnb and others who allow people to rent out their apartments.  Of the 37 apartments in my building, only seven are currently inhabited by rent stabilized tenants.

The landlords are running an illegal hotel business.  We don’t want that.  We are all senior citizens.  I am a woman of a certain age, and I want to live in the same safe peaceful building we have always lived in.  Not only have we lost our sense of safety, but the landlord has chosen to ignore our requests for necessary repairs.  Instead, they are doing extensive renovations to make the vacant apartments more appealing to short term tenants because they make a lot of money with short term stays.  Not long ago one of the tourists staying in our building wandered onto my terrace.  It was a terrible, frightening experience, about 11 o’clock in the evening, that made me realize just how vulnerable a position my landlord has put me in by choosing to profit over the safety of our tenants and community.”

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