NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other elected officials joined tenants of Stuyvesant Town on the East Side Friday, at a rally to demand that affordable rents be preserved under a pending sale.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, 450 residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village packed the steps and plaza of City Hall, chanting their determination not to be pushed out of their apartments by another sale of the sprawling complex.

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“New York cannot become a city of the very rich and the very poor,” Schumer said at the rally.

He added, “Your fight is not just a fight for your own apartments, your fight is for the heart and soul and future of New York City.”

Councilman Daniel Garodnick (D-4th) said action needed to be taken.

“We are here today to say that we’re not going to hope, we’re not going to wait, we’re not going to sit idly by as this thing slips out of our reach,” he said.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer said the sale and what happens to the rents as a result is a defining moment for affordable housing in the city that will determine the future.

“As Stuy Town and Peter Cooper go, so does this city,” he said.

The 11,000 apartments of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village – a sprawling compex bounded by First Avenue, Avenue C, 14th Street and 20th Street – have housed middle-income New Yorkers in the decades since they were built for returning World War II veterans in 1947.

Original owner MetLife sold the complex for $5.4 billion in 2006 but the new owners defaulted.

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CW Capital Asset Management LLC, which has controlled the 80-acre property since 2010, announced plans last month to sell the complex.

Tenants fear that a new owner will force moderate-income residents out and turn the complex into luxury housing.

Schumer said that in an effort to preserve affordable housing he secured commitments this week from mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that they will not finance any sale that Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper tenants don’t support.

“We are part of the way there already, because without Fannie or Freddie’s backing it will be very hard for lenders to come in and change the whole way Stuy Town is,” said Schumer, who said he spent “many happy days” at Stuyvesant Town visiting cousins who lived there.

Nearly half the units at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village have already been converted to market rate, with rents about $4,200 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Elected officials at Friday’s rally said the rest of the complex must remain accessible for people who can’t afford market-rate rents.

Garodnick vowed to fight “any predatory deal” for the complex, where he lives.

“To the sharks in the water: These are the people that you’re looking to push out of their homes,” Garodnick said. “These are the parents, the grandparents, the hardworking New Yorkers of this city, and guess what? They’re not afraid of you.”

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