Leonard Grunstein was recently quoted in a newspaper and blog dedicated to the community around Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village located in Manhattan, commenting on new claims that a court could re-settle a case in which funds were awarded to tenants of the Stuy Town apartments.
“I don’t think that can change,” said Grunstein. “Anything is possible, but it doesn’t sound realistic. You would have to prove that they are overcharging new tenants.” Tenants of Stuy Town at the time of the settlement were granted funds after overpaying rent for unregulated apartments.
Grunstein was hired by the Tenants Association to aid in a tenant-led bid against complex regulators. He discovered that landlords benefiting from J-51 tax abatements could not deregulate apartments, ultimately leading to a victory for the buildings’ residents.
Developer Gerald Guterman recently stated a desire to see the case re-settled, pending participation by current Stuy Town tenants. Gutterman is attempting to generate support from tenants by preparing a letter discussing quality of life issues and questioning whether residents had in fact received the full amount in return for their overpaid rent.
Leonard Grunstein recently wrote a letter to the editor responding to a New York Times front page article, Public Housing in City Reaches a Fiscal Crisis.” Grunstein cites the articles as being further proof that the NYC Housing Authority can no longer rely on its current financial model.
According to Grunstein, the deficit faced by the agency is too great to solve the city’s current housing problems. “Rather than using costly government grants and subsidies to keep a flawed agency on life support, the city needs to tap into the power of capital markets.” Grunstein identifies a few options for taking advantage of capital market wealth, including relying more on public-private partnerships such as that of Battery Park City rather than relying fully on public funding.
To read the full response, “Money for Public Housing,” click here.
Leonard Grunstein has released a plan to resolve New York’s affordable housing crisis. Recently published in the spring 2014 edition of the Real Estate Finance Journal, the plan proposes a new mixed-income, mixed-use model of affordable housing that enables the free-market to fund the development.
The proposed plan would let the market play a larger role in New York’s housing policy, urging reforms to lower the cost of land in order to attract free-market financing and equity through the capital markets. This would enable development of unused city land and encourage developers to lease the ground where new projects are built, generating rents from the luxury component of the mixed-use complex.
Grunstein also encourages using the additional funds from these rents for the creation of self-funded “sticky” rent vouchers that would empower struggling families by letting them rent an apartment. He believes the answer to low-income affordability is more income, not more structurally flawed low-income projects.
To put these ideas into action, Grunstein is urging the city to create an Affordable Housing Authority, which can resolve issues using a public-private partnership model.
Leonard Grunstein attended a reception earlier this spring honoring the new Bergen County graduates of Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (REITS). Grunstein and his wife Chanie have long been generous supporters of Yeshiva University, from which his three children, daughter-in-law and sons-in-law all graduated. In July 2013, Grunstein was named a board member of Yeshiva’s Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. The school has also praised Grunstein for his analysis of Jewish banking laws, which appeared in the Banking Law Journal in 2013.
The reception celebrated the seminary’s 50 new Bergen County graduates. This year’s REITS cohort, 230 graduates in total, is the largest graduating class in the school’s history. The reception in Teaneck preceded the REITS ceremony and featured Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, a professor at the school and renowned former chief rabbi of England.
Sacks, the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva, served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from September 1991 until September 2013. He is known as one of the most prolific and well-regarded Jewish thinkers in the world and has been called an “intellectual giant” by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. At the reception, Sacks elaborated on the role of the rabbi in the Jewish community, saying the training of new students is the most important thing one can do in the Jewish world.
Leonard Grunstein expressed his excitement at having Sacks speak at the ceremony, calling him “a brilliant man and speaker.”
Leonard Grunstein and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Lady Elaine Sacks and Chanie Grunstein at Bergen County graduate reception
Rav Benjamin Yudin, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Rav Herschel Schacter and his son, Rabbi Shai Schacter
Dean of REITS at YU, Rabbi Menachem Penner and Rabbi Ari Zahtz, assistant Rabbi at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck