Help SmithStone Family Stay in Their Home
$7,615 raised
99 contributors
105 Weeks running


2016 Thanks Giving  at the SmithStones

SmithStone Family (The Villager, Dec 2015)

This family's battle will impact affordable Housing in all of New York City

The Toledano Tenants' Coalition is reaching out to you on behalf of the SmithStone family.  Craig Smith and Elise Stone have lived at 233 East 5th St in NYC for the past 13 years in a rent stabilized apartment. Here they have raised their family, Kerem, Tesfahun and Hakima SmithStone, and in 2015 Elise’s mom Sandy joined them.  All six in a 2-bedroom apartment with a single bathroom in the heart of the East Village of NYC. Along with raising their children, they run an award-winning nonprofit East Village theatre company now in its 13th season, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble. 


"I'm worth a fxxxload of money, Bro"

-Raphael Toledano (The Real Deal, June 2016)

In 2015 Rafael Toledano bought their building, part of a large East Village portfolio purchase.  In a very brief time the 26 year-old Toledano has the dubious distinction of being named to the worst landlords list by the tenant advocacy group, Stabilizing New York.  (accessed 7/10/16 @ ). 

And he's in the news a lot:

Tenants in New York Press the Record Button in a Dispute With the Landlord ”  - New York Times, 10/18/2015

Toledano to pay $1M-plus in settlement of EV tenant harassment suit”  The Real Deal– May 16,  2016

Toledano has been accused of harassing tenants as well, and appeared in New York City Housing Court Tuesday for civil and criminal contempt after failing to pay a settlement…” Lo-Down, June 21, 2016

Toledano has hired Donald Trump's lawyer Jeffrey Goldman to fight this case.


This case is a battle over how and when a landlord can transform a previously-affordable rent stabilized apartment into a market/luxury rental.

  • Toledano and his attorneys argue that because the rent in the SmithStone’s apartment exceeded the “threshold” rent for de-regulation in 2003, the apartment is no longer protected by rent stabilization, and the family can be evicted despite having lived in the apartment for 13 years.
  • The prior landlord treated the tenancy as rent-regulated but as soon as Toledano bought the building, he started an eviction case against the SmithStone family.
  • In 2015, a case called Altman v. 285 West Fourth St, LLC confirmed that the SmithStone tenancy should be rent stabilized.
  • The law is currently on the tenants’ side, and in April of 2016, the SmithStone family won the right to stay in their home.
  • But Toledano's attorneys immediately appealed and they are back in court.  12 months of litigation -- and no end in sight. 

 The real estate lobby is watching the SmithStone case closely.  This case has been in court  for approximaately 12 months at considerable expense to this family.  However, if the Smithstones  prevail  THOUSANDS OF MARKET RATE APARTMENTS IN NYC SHOULD RETURN TO RENT STABILIZATION .

What can I do?

1) Donate today to support the success of this lawsuit and click the Contribute button above.

2) NYC tenants: Find out if your apartment was illegally dergulated.

3) Write to elected representatives and let them know that rents are out of control and rent regulation needs to be implemented on regulated and market rate housing across the board.

The East Village is this family’s home – their theatre is here, their church is here, their schools are here, their friends and neighbors and their culture is here. Do not let Toledano tear them from their home.

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church 

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister,

Middle Collegiate Church

  “Craig and Elise and their family are long-term members of Middle Collegiate Church. We have observed with sadness the systematic removal of families from affordable housing in our neighborhoods. We ask that you join us in this important effort to support this family and keep them in their home and in their community.” –Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church, NYC

"Mr. Smith’s battle is nothing short of heroic"              .                  S. Rudolph, Esq. Urban Justice Ctr

Craig Smith’s legal battle to defend his home extends far beyond his family, potentially influencing thousands of NYC renters and undercutting the business model of predatory landlords who buy up rent stabilized housing with the specific intention of destroying communities to make way for luxury development. Mr. Smith’s battle is nothing short of heroic; few tenants have the funds let alone the stomach for years of litigation. I applaud Mr. Smith’s heart but a battle such as this takes an entire village.” –Stephanie Rudolph,  Esq., Urban Justice Center



The Toledano Tenants' Coalition is asking you to support this family with a donation of any size – besides an important contribution to this family’s case it can have a long-term impact on thousands of NYC tenants.  

Thank you, 

The Toledano Tenants' Coalition                                                                                        representing 24 apartment buildings in the East Village 

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