Left in Limbo: Choosing Between Safety and Keeping Our Homes at 159 Stanton [OP-ED]

Posted on: March 7th, 2017 at 9:38 am by

159stanton-croman-1_wm

The following piece was written by a vacated tenant on behalf of the 159 Stanton Street Tenants Association.

On Saturday, February 25, 2017, two apartments at 159 Stanton Street, were vacated due to “imminent danger” to people and property in the building. Several residents, including a 12-year-old child, were displaced. We have been left in limbo, feeling as though we have to choose between safety and keeping our homes.

Our landlord, Steve Croman, and his company, 9300 Realty, have repeatedly demonstrated disregard for people’s safety in their buildings. During the summer of 2015, 9300 Realty demolished six vacant apartments at 159 Stanton Street. They conducted this work dangerously, creating hazardous dust and causing overhead light fixtures to shatter and ceilings to collapse in multiple apartments.

But their disregard for our safety did not end there, leading us to file an HP action. We have discovered that, for 18 months, we lived with serious structural problems in the building. We have also learned of multiple fire safety violations on the part of 9300 Realty and Steve Croman. During the demolition, workers illegally removed all fireproofing material from gutted apartments, rendering the building a tinderbox. When we received glossily printed fire safety plans from 9300 Realty this winter, it felt like a sick joke.

159stanton-croman-2_wm

And yet they have created additional fire safety hazards!

In September, a tenant was taken to the hospital and the fire escape window and security gate were broken. During the two days it took Croman’s 9300 Realty to board up the window, an intruder broke into her apartment. After the tenant returned later that month, 9300 Realty left the fire escape window boarded over for four months, despite repeated complaints. In January, the Housing Preservation Department’s Emergency Response Team removed the board and measured the window to be installed. They put in a plywood door to enable access to the fire escape. If a fire had broken out before this was done, it could have been a death sentence for the tenant.

While the fire escape access was being restored, management removed stairs to the roof, obstructing another fire exit. By this time, we wondered whether Steve Croman and 9300 Realty were actively planning to kill us. We have also learned that someone chained the doors of vacant apartments on one floor just before a recent inspection by the Department of Buildings.

Croman shining light at a tenant to prevent filming

Croman shining light at a tenant to prevent filming

The City has ordered fireguards for our building. Fireguards are specifically trained to survey for fires and help people evacuate. They patrol the halls and check vacant apartments hourly. The fireguards at 159 Stanton Street are professional and we welcome their presence. At the same time, we long for a safe building, with fireproofing installed in a legal and workmanlike manner. We wish this not only for our building, but for all of Steve Croman’s holdings, as we have reason to believe this is a common modus operandi of 9300 Realty, engaging in construction as harassment and destabilizing buildings in order to force rent-stabilized tenants from their homes. For these reasons, we strongly hope that the City Council will enact the twelve Stand for Tenant Safety bills soon, before it is too late for tenants in other tinderboxes.

Recent Stories

Clayton’s Corner: Rivington’s Falafel Guys Fighting City to Survive

I understand many people believe New York City is a nicer, safer place now that international corporate capitalism has homogenized, standardized, and washed away so much of what made it edgy. They applaud such sentiments on the Lower East Side, where drugs and crime have largely been eliminated from public view. I am not one […]

Hotel 50 Bowery is an Insult to Chinatown with its Insensitive ‘Opium Den’ Themed Club [OP-ED]

The following opinion piece was written by Chinatown activist Karlin Chan. Many Chinatown residents are disgusted that 50 Bowery’s Joie De Vivre glass hotel towers over the turn-of-the-century neighborhood, arguing how out of character it is compared to the surrounding area, while others show concern it may further fuel gentrification and displacement. Yet, the announcement […]

There is a New Beastie Boys Mural at Ludlow and Rivington

Hold it now, the Beastie Boys mural on Ludlow Street is updated. Danielle Mastrion, the street artist who painted the original artwork on the Wolfnights facade three years ago, was tapped for an encore this weekend. The predecessor was swiftly erased with blue paint and reborn. The small sidewalk party and mural painting was essentially a PR […]

Seward Park Co-op Building Had a Fire in its Boiler Room Yesterday [Updated]

You may have noticed the extreme response of fire engines on Clinton Street yesterday morning, just outside Fine Fare. Apparently, there was a fire in the boiler room of Seward Park Co-op at 175 Clinton. No one was asked to evacuate, by FDNY or otherwise, but a few residents did so of their own volition […]

Southbound M15 Bus Service Restored to Allen Street at East Houston

Downtown bus service is finally restored to the top of Allen Street. As of this week, the southbound M15 and M15 Select Buses have resumed pickup and drop-off service just south of Houston. The ticket terminals reappeared yesterday after a two-year absence from the block. You’ll recall that the M15 line was previously re-routed, beginning in January 2015, via […]