Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Empire Zone 5/23/2007

From the Empire Zone:

Hands Across the Complex

It has been 21 years since Hands Across America, when on May 25, 1986, some five million people joined hands in a line to Long Beach, Calif., from New York to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness.

A similarly minded endeavor is planned for this evening in Manhattan. At least 7,000 people are expected to join hands and form a ring around Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, from East 14th to 23rd Streets on First Avenue, at 5:15 p.m. today to protest rising housing costs. Nearly 100 housing, labor and political groups, including the New York City Central Labor Council, the Working Families Party and Acorn (the Association of Community Organizations Reform Now), joined the New York Is Our Home! Affordable Rent Campaign, said Evan Thies, a spokesman for the coalition.

Fifty state legislators have endorsed the campaign and at least 2,000 residents of Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town are expected to attend the rally. After holding hands for up to 30 minutes, the group is scheduled to march toward Union Square.

In October, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company agreed to sell the two giant complexes Tishman Speyer Properties and the real estate arm of BlackRock for $5.4 billion. Although most of the 25,000 residents are protected by rent stabilization laws, city officials have expressed concern that the new owners, by investing heavily in improving the properties, could speed up the process of removing units from the protection of those laws.