Community Highlights – Changes to Squatter Laws Announced After Efforts from Councilwoman Inna Vernikov and Other Elected Officials


Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, Senator Scarcella-Spanton, Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo, Manhattan Beach Community Group, Brooklyn residents, and other state and local elected officials hosted a press conference last month regarding the change in state law excluding squatters from tenant protections, as was signed into law by the governor in the new budget.

The new language defines a squatter as someone staying on a property without permission from its owner or the owner’s representative. This wording will make it easier for police to intervene in squatting cases, sparing homeowners months or even years in housing court.

This is a bipartisan issue that is prevalent in both the councilwoman and senator’s overlapping districts, specifically with several cases in Manhattan Beach, including the squatters at 178 Mackenzie St and 72 Beamont Street. Both elected officials have been speaking out about this issue and have been working together, as well as with other elected officials and community stakeholders for common sense solutions.

“Finally, we may see some effective change that will help remedy the squatter situation that is plaguing so many of our neighbors in Brooklyn. I applaud the fact that this will take some handcuffs off of our police force and allow them to do their job in an effective way. I thank Senator Scarcella-Spanton for advocating for our community on this issue in Albany. This isn’t the end of the fight but it’s definitely a good step towards restoring normalcy to our community and neighbors,” said Councilwoman Vernikov.

The bill proposes measures to exclude squatters from tenant protections, double the time period for tenancy rights from 30 to 60 days of possession, incorporate squatting into the definition of criminal trespass in the third degree, and enhance lease provisions.

Enacted Budget Invests in Holocaust Curriculum in Public Schools

Speaker Carl Heastie, Education Committee Chair Michael Benedetto, and Assemblymember Nily Rozic announced the State Fiscal Year 2024-25 Budget invests $500,000 to review and update curriculum on the Holocaust as anti-Semitism continues to rise across the state. The Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic incidents rose by 110 percent last year, with incidents of harassment up 226 percent in New York.

“With anti-Semitic attacks on the rise across our state, this funding arrives at a critical time for our children,” said Speaker Heastie. “This review will ensure that our students are accurately and completely taught the lessons of the Holocaust so we can ensure history never repeats itself.”

“Hate does not exist in a vacuum; it is the result of ignorance and misinformation. This vital funding will help ensure that our state curriculum represents a true and accurate account of Holocaust history,” said Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein. “Now more than ever, it is essential that we educate our young people about the horrors of the past. Only then can we ensure a more tolerant future. I thank Speaker Heastie for recognizing the significance of Holocaust education, especially during these troubling times.”

“With the number of Holocaust survivors dwindling, it is imperative that New York memorializes the horrific events of the Holocaust,” said Assemblymember David Weprin.

“According to a recent poll, one in five Americans aged 18-39 think the Holocaust was a myth. We need to bring a standards based curriculum to all New York public schools. Learning about the Holocaust can promote kindness in our youngest students while our middle schoolers can learn about words and symbols connected to hate, and our high schoolers learn about historical events and antisemitism. We cannot raise a generation of Holocaust deniers. There are lessons from the Holocaust that are applicable in all areas of our lives. We must remember so we can be better.”

This funding will ensure New York’s Holocaust curriculum is fully reviewed and updated to adequately prepare our students for the future.