Tenants Take it To the Streets in Bushwick
Deliberate code violations, wanton demolitions, and pernicious repairs, as a means of making living conditions near squalid are just a few examples of what some tenants say they are subject to.
And all because they are low-income tenants, in an neighborhood speedily racing toward gentrification.
Last Sunday, as a means of protest, a select number of tenants, elected officials and Bushwick housing advocates took it to the streets. It was what they called a “march against the worst landlords”.
The plan was simple. March through a few of the rapidly gentrifying blocks in Bushwick, stopping at buildings identified as owned by landlords who use violation of housing codes and mistreatment of long-standing and low-income tenants as a means to evict them.
The group gathered at 1418 Dekalb Avenue, where they held a press conference.
Maria Pucha, a low-income tenant at 1418 Dekalb Avenue, during the conference said,
“Today I march because I need the protection of my city so that my apartment gets repaired, so that I feel safe in my building and so that I do not get displaced like other families in my building. Bushwick is my home, and I am here to stay.”
The march then moved northwest 4 blocks to 171 Irving Avenue and then southwest nearly 8 blocks to 324 Central Avenue, where marchers held a direct action to publicly decry the predacious tactics of those building’s owners.
As the march stopped at 98 Linden Street, the building that Michelle Navas, a low-income tenant lived, she spoke frankly to the crowd.
“I live at 98 Linden Street, Apt 1L and have been there for 24 years. Ten months ago, my landlord came into the apartment to repair the kitchen and bathroom, but instead he demolished it. Since then, my family has had to use the neighbor’s bathroom and kitchen. This is no way to live and I am urging our city to crackdown on ‘bad actor’ landlords so that more families don’t have to go through what we are going through.”
During those stops, residents described mistreatment by landlords and the need for city government to do more to stand up for the rights and needs of tenants.
New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal walked with the tenants. After the march he said, “The great vision of a city with affordable housing must be coupled with a determined will to preserve all units of affordable housing. We cannot talk of building new units of affordable housing without doing the work of preserving existing units of affordable housing.”
In addition to Espinal, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, and members of Make the Road New York and members of the Real Affordability for All campaign walked with the tenants too.
The march was organized by Make the Road New York and Real Affordability for All, a citywide campaign focused on real affordable housing for low-income and moderate-income New Yorkers.
It set out to dramatize the affordable housing plight of facing scores of Bushwick residents and New Yorkers Citywide. In part, march was meant to urge Mayor de Blasio to pursue greater housing code enforcement and other actions that will help protect tenants and preserve affordable housing in Bushwick.