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Ex-housing official key to law firm.

The law firm of Finkelstein, Borah, Schwartz, Altschuler & Goldstein, P.C. has a secret weapon to help clients trudge through the bureaucratic quagmire that comes with owning, building or managing housing in New York ... and it's not a high-powered attorney.

He's Manuel Mirabal, a non-attorney who packs 17 years experience in government and housing. In his former assignments, which include assistant commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development, and rent administrator and deputy commissioner of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, he forged a number of the policies that guide residential owners and managers in the private sector.

When a client has a problem with the city or state government, Mirabal can use his know-how and contacts, in part, to intervene on the client's behalf at the administrative level and hopefully avoid litigation. Lawyers usually get involved, he said, on the "counsel-level" when there are talks of a law suit.

"There's sometimes a little more you can do by getting both parties to understand eachothers needs and limitations," said Mirabal.

Mirabal offered this example. A client is seeking a J-51 allowance. The work has been done and the application has been filed. Before the application can be complete, however, the Buildings Department must sign off that all housing violations have been cured. But as the deadline nears, the Buildings Department has yet to schedule its inspection. Mirabal may contact the agency or call the borough chief and tell them the application will be terminated if the inspection is not conducted.

In some cases, he said, the owner must deal with the frustrating situation of having had inspections completed but they have not been registered.

"It's a matter of expediting the bureaucratic functions," he said. "That kind of work for a lawyer is out of their field."

Mirabal's work for clients also includes: Analyzing state and city regulations, preparing opinions on agency compliance requirements, formulating legislation analyses, and reviewing and preparing real estate proposals.

His efforts, he said, are critical to all the firm's clients, which range from small management companies to some of New York's major owner/managers.

"The bureaucracy rarely distinguishes between one or the other," he said.

Policy Shaper

Mirabal left government in 1987 and, after doing some consulting for a private management firm, joined Finkelstein, Borah in 1989.

"After three and one-half years of DHCR and working with the rent program it took a toll," he said.

Looking back, Mirabal said, each one of his achievements required the coordination of a lot of different city agencies.

"I developed a good grasp of a lot of city departments that interact with |the other side' -- the owners," he said.

As a New York State rent administrator and deputy commissioner of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, from 1984 to 1987, Mirabal was responsible for the implementation of the Omnibus Housing Act of 1983. That duty included: The transition of rent regulatory authority from New York City to New York State and the integration of the three sets of staff; the computerization of all of the rent data from New York State rent registration computer information system, forming the largest rental housing data system in the nation; and the development of "rent registration", whereby all rents are registered with the state.

In, 1987, as also mandated by the law, he supervised the rewriting of the Rent Stabilization Code for 1 million apartments. The code had not been rewritten for 11 years and it took seven months and a team of eight lawyers to revise it.

"Doing the code created a lot of hostility," he said. "It still hasn't been rewritten. I don't think anyone would touch it with a 10-foot pole."

Mirabal was assistant commissioner of Community Development and Neighborhood Preservation for HPD from 1978 to 1984. During this time, the agency built or rehabbed 50,000 residential units. This work led to some pioneering building techniques for the public housing in Charlotte Gardens in the Bronx and Nehemiah Houses in Brooklyn. He was responsible for planning and implementation of City Urban Redevelopment Projects, and he has to his credit 11 parks in the city.

Mirabal served as an assistant commissioner in the office of Property Management from 1976 to 1978. At 29, he was the youngest assistant commissioner the city had ever had. In 1977, when the city took its first large vesting under its then new one-year in rem delinquency program and took control of 35,000 units. Mirabal set up the operations and maintenance of those units. He developed and implemented the Office of Property Management's In-House Vacant Apartment repair program for in rem buildings.

He restructured the emergency relocation shelter program, and created and implemented the city's Senior Citizen's Heatline to created emergency services to the elderly and handicapped residents of handicapped buildings.

From 1975 to 1976, he worked on charter revision implementation as it applied to housing. Also, during this time, he developed the "early warning system" for in rem buildings using data from city planning, housing code violations, tax delinquencies, etc. He was district manager for Community Board 9 in Manhattan, from 1974 to 1975, where he supervised the housing planning task force and community capital improvement projects.

"I take a lot of pride in having a lot of the things I've done become a permanent part of government," he said.

Mirabal continues to work as a consultant on housing issues to the government. He helped the Civil Court Housing Court, on a pro-bono basis, create a computer link to DHCR and he helps the city conduct seminars on housing policies.

He has also been a legislation advisor for the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), an expert witness for law firms, and a frequent lecturer for owners, community groups, and The Bar Association of New York.

Political Advisor

Mirabal, who also has a background in political consulting, is currently on leave from the law firm and working as a "getting out the vote" coordinator for Attorney General Robert Abrams.

Mirabal got his political feet wet as a district coordinator for Bella Abzug in 1974 helping to rally the Hispanic contingent. He later worked on the re-election campaign of Governor Cuomo and Lucy Cruz' successful bid for New York City Council.

Civic Leader

When he is not discussing housing issues or gathering votes, Mirabal devotes his time to the Hispanic community. He is currently president of one of the city's largest cultural organizations, New York Puerto Rican Day Parade. He also serves on the board of the Puerto Rican Business and Labor Alliance and Ballet Hispanico of New York. He is also a founder of the Puerto Rico Disaster Reconstruction Fund and Mother Teresa/Missionaries of Pone/Puerto Rico.

He also does consulting to groups that want to stage Hispanic cultural events. He recently worked with the Univision Group, which staged a parade this Labor Day weekend along 7th Avenue between 34th Street and 42nd Street. According to Mirabal, he helped them package an application that would address the city's concerns.

"I've made a lot of friends in a lot of different sectors," he said. "And I use my technical skills to make a living."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Hagedorn Publication
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Title Annotation:profile of former New York City and State housing official Manuel Mirabal, of Finkelstein, Borah, Schwartz, Altschuler and Goldstein P.C. law firm
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Biography
Date:Sep 16, 1992
Previous Article:77 River Street sold.
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