Leonard Grunstein recently shared a slideshow highlighting the Jewish world in and around New York City. Focusing mainly on the Crown Heights community in Brooklyn, NY, the video shows locations such as the Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters, the Congregation Kol Israel synagogue, and The Jewish Children’s Museum.
In addition to touring the neighborhood, Grunstein was also able to pay a visit to the Chabad-Lubavitch Library’s exhibition hall, which is currently home to a collection of rare Jewish manuscripts and books.
Grunstein’s visit was inspired by a colleague at the YIVO Institute, a research institute on Eastern European Jewry to which he has been a prolific donor. In April, the Grunstein family contributed a generous gift to the organization that allowed it to launch an online archive of Jewish life in Poland before World War II.
Grunstein’s family lived in Crown Heights for a few years when they first moved to New York from Wisconsin in the late 1950s. Said Grunstein of the new exhibit, “It was thrilling to see ancient texts that were printed many hundreds of years ago and to talk to the extremely knowledgeable librarian. It is an amazing resource that should be experienced.”
The full slideshow of his experience can be viewed below as well as on Vimeo.
More on Leonard Grunstein.
Leonard Grunstein recently contributed to Crain’s New York Business, suggesting rent vouchers as an answer to New York’s affordable housing crisis and the recent “poor door” controversy. The “poor door” concept, which suggested a separate entrance for subsidized tenants at an Upper West Side luxury building, was a widely criticized suggested policy.
According to Grunstein, suggestion of this policy should come at no surprise. Having affordable and luxury housing units on the same site would allow developers to receive tax abatements so long as 20% of a building’s units are kept below market rate.
This does not need to be the only solution; however, and Grunstein suggests the use of rent vouchers to help families struggling to afford it. Rather than requiring more affordable units, the city must address the underlying problem: rents are out of reach for many hardworking families. This can be alleviated with rent vouchers that low-income tenants would use at apartments throughout the city like any other tenant, instead of being relegated to “poor units.”
The budget for the vouchers could be funded by requiring developers to pay into a city-administered trust fund, with contributions that were comparable to the cost of constructing affordable units. This change can more effectively align housing policy with need.
Leonard Grunstein was recently quoted in The New York Daily News Voice of the People segment, weighing in on New York City’s current affordable housing crisis. Grunstein urges Mayor de Blasio, who will soon be implementing a new housing plan for the city, to consider another alternative plan found in an op-ed by Edward Glaeser.
The plan advocates for the use of housing vouchers, an under-used resource that provide New Yorkers with the means to afford a home where they choose. A system such as this one would prevent the need for segregated buildings and better allocate city resources.
Mr. Grunstein’s full Voice of the People segment can be found at the New York Daily News.
In a recent op-ed, Leonard Grunstein commented on a Furman Center study which suggested that more compact apartment units would better suit current NYC housing needs. Grunstein believes that this study should serve as an indication for city leaders to build a form of housing that is more suitable for today’s NYC residents.
A lack of space for single and two-person households have forced single residents to move into larger apartments, therefore limiting space for larger families. This trend is unsustainable, and more single-room occupancy (SRO) apartments are needed to house a new generation of NYC residents. However, outdated regulations are preventing developers from building these structures – classifying them as hotels rather than residents. Regulations regarding the number of windows, square footage and appliances must be re-evaluated to allow construction for more SRO’s, freeing larger spaces to accommodate families.
Smaller units should be considered when looking at options for solving the city’s current housing crisis.
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.