Bushwick tenants protest alleged neglect, abuse
by Meghan Sackman
Oct 24, 2018 | 7620 views | 0 0 comments | 321 321 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents of 431 Bleecker Street in Bushwick joined their neighbors and elected officials last week to protest unsafe living conditions they say have been created by their landlords.

The residents also expressed complaints of unfair treatment from the landlord, who they say is trying to push out tenants in favor of new people who can pay higher rents.

Lucy Hunter said that the poor conditions began in November 2017, and the problems weren’t addressed until the following July.

“It got down to about 50 degrees inside our apartment, so we were freezing,” she said. “We can’t get ahold of management.”

While tenants suffered in the cold during the winter, they were still paying the bills. They tried to go on a rent strike, but the landlord pushed back.

They aalso say construction workers walked through their apartments without permission.

“We are finding debris inside of our shoes,” Hunter said. “We are finding muddy boot prints all over our apartments, destroying our belongings.”

Melinda Cochado has lived at 431 Bleecker Street with her family since 1980. She has noticed a significant decrease in the quality of life .

“They’ve been offering me buyouts so I can move, I don’t want to move,” she said. “I can’t afford to move at this minute.”

She said after they came into supposedly fix the boiler, Cochado came back to find her home destroyed with plaster and dust. She had to clean the mess up even though she is an asthmatic.

Assemblywoman Maritza Davila said she raised her own kids on the block, and knows what it is like to live in these conditions.

“We’re waiting for the new attorney general to be sworn in, and this is going to be the first building in her hands,” she said. “We will not allow any landlord in this district to get away with harassing tenants and taking away what little power they have in their homes to protect their children.”

Yea Sarpong, an attorney representing the tenants, said the landlords are trying to file any case they can against the tenants, including a case against the rent strikes, even though they have a legal right to these actions.

“They have a right to organize, so basically I think the tactic is to file as many cases against us, hoping that we’re going to get tired,” Sarpong said. “But we’re not tired, we’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to keep doing this work for these tenants.”
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