By Kavitha Surana: More than 100 Chinatown residents and their supporters crowded onto the sidewalk in front of 83 and 85 Bowery yesterday afternoon, marching around the block and gumming up traffic. The rally was part of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown’s ongoing effort to draw attention to tenant harassment cases and push for height limits and rent stabilization in the neighborhood.
What: Tenants Call for Prosecution of Slumlord for Refusing to Make Repairs; Community Rallies to Protect the Neighborhood from Luxury High-Rises
When: April 12, 2016 at 4pm
Where: 83-85 Bowery, between Canal and Hester Streets
Details: Hundreds are expected to rally in support of residents of 83-85 Bowery to demand the City bring criminal charges against millionaire landlord Joseph Betesh, real estate mogul and owner of retail chain Dr. Jays.
Tenants and community members will be joined by the New York City Public Advocate, Letitia James.
In April 2015, Betesh sued one of the tenants, in hopes of evicting all residents of the two buildings. Recently, the tenant’s legal case has progressed favorably. The landlord dismissed the housing court eviction case and was told by the judge to pay the tenant’s lawyer’s fee. However, the landlord has refused to fix the building, instead using the disrepair as an excuse to harass and evict all of the tenants. The tenants have come together, vowing not to give in until they win.
83-85 Bowery tenants are in a similar situation as most residents in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. Due to recent discriminatory zoning policies, the neighborhood has become ground zero for displacement. Even many residents with rent-stabilized units are being forcibly displaced by landlords who use various underhanded tactics to evict tenants. That is why supporters are calling on the City to adopt the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan. This plan would introduce protections such as contextual height limits to stop slumlords like Betesh and corrupt companies like Extell Development Corp. from building high-rises in the community. It would stabilize rents and real estate taxes, and enable the tenants of 83-85 Bowery and other low-income tenants in the community to stay.
The Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side has invited all of the presidential candidates, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, to attend.
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