PRESIDENT'S CORNER: We Need You to Take Action On Co-Op Disclosure Bill!

Barry Kramer | July 2018

HGAR’s Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act earlier this month was a great success. We had two excellent panels of speakers representing local fair housing advocates and NAR’s Fair Housing partners. A special thank you to Crystal Hawkins Syska for moderating, and to our sponsors who make these events possible.

On the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, we joined the National Association of Realtors in reflecting on the progress made, and the work that still needs to be done to end discrimination in housing and promote housing opportunity for all. At the conclusion of the celebration, I offered a resolution in support of fair housing. I expect the resolution will be officially adopted at the September HGAR Board meeting.

Related to our Fair Housing efforts this year is our advocacy for co-op transparency legislation. We need your help to contact the Westchester County Board of Legislators and let them know you support the proposed Fairness in Cooperative Ownership Law. I know we’ve been asking for your support to this legislation in e-mails and other postings, but the time is now critical to move this legislation forward. Many of us have been attending committee meetings and speaking in favor of this legislation that if passed would require that a co-op board give a reason when an applicant is rejected and would establish a time frame for the transaction. Similar legislation has passed in other areas, and we believe that now is the time for Westchester County to pass this law.

We need you to take action! You can help us in several ways. Send a letter to any or all of the County Legislators and let them know you support this legislation. If you can give an actual example or story about a rejected application it would strengthen our position. It doesn’t matter whether you were representing the seller or buyer, just let us know what happened. It would be helpful if you can identify actual co-op rejections. Let us know the actual property that was under contract, and then went back on the market due to the applicant’s rejection by the co-op board. If you can identify any of these properties please send an e-mail or letter to the County Board of Legislators. As an alternative you can send the e-mail to me at Barry@WestchesterChoice.com and I will forward your message to all the legislators.

You can attend committee meetings or public hearings when they begin. While the opportunity to speak at committee meetings is limited, just attending shows your support. Once the legislation moves out of committee it will be open for remarks at a public hearing to be held by the Board of Legislators. That’s when we’ll be looking for speakers!

Our opponents are out in force. They are asking managing agents to send letters and e-mails to shareholders opposing the legislation. We need to let the Board of Legislators know this legislation is the right thing to do and that as Realtors we believe this legislation will make co-ops better.

While we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and have advocated for transparency in co-op transactions, I am reminded of the importance for your support of RPAC, and the work RPAC does to advocate for fair housing legislation.

We have begun our RPAC250 campaign, which will be tracking RPAC contributions between August and the end of November. We are asking each and every HGAR office (not firm) to participate in RPAC by giving at least $250. More is even better. If every member office gives a minimum of $250 we will meet our RPAC goal for 2018. We are keeping track of all office contributions and will recognize the top RPAC donors at the end of the year with a special reception in their honor.

This summer we continue our celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Let’s work together to expand its protections by supporting RPAC and making co-op transparency the law in Westchester County.

Have a great summer!

Barry Kramer
Barry Kramer is 2018 President of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc