Dozens of Bronx tenants who say they are being forced out of their apartments because of predatory lending to slumlords rallied Thursday in Midtown. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Angry and fed up, tenants and activists from several Bronx buildings rallied Thursday in front of the Midtown offices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They say the government mortgage agencies have to stop lending money to bad landlords.
"This entity is called on to protect us and we demand that they do it and we demand that they do it now," said Reverend Doug Cunningham of the New Day United Methodist Church.
The tenants say many landlords are getting inflated private and government mortgages to purchase buildings. But they say the purchase prices are way above the actual values of the buildings. And now, many landlords can't pay the mortgages and maintain the properties.
"We are living with rats. We are living with huge holes in ceilings, painting has not been done in 10 years," said Bronx tenant J. Ahleezah Sims
The tenants say many banks as well as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae lend money to landlords knowing that the goal is to increase the rents for apartments. The residents say along with a lack of repairs they are often harassed by landlords trying to force them out.
"When people move out, now what they are doing is leaving the apartment empty. They are warehousing the apartments so that when two years comes they can rent them at three times the value," said Bronx tenant Harold Dell.
"Where else are the people supposed to go if they can't afford it? On the streets or in the shelters? That is not right," said Bronx tenant Angel Seymore.
Organizers of the rally say they are especially concerned about SG2 Management, a realty company that owns several buildings they say need major repairs. Freddie Mac tells NY1 it is working with SG2 to ensure it has enough money to make those repairs and address code violations.
Meanwhile, tenants say they will continue to fight for better housing and fairer mortgages in the Bronx.
They say they want Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae as well as private banks to lower the mortgage payments and values of buildings so the properties won't be in danger of foreclosure or disrepair. They also say they want any bad landlords forced out.