Displaced Tenants of 85 Bowery Call BS on Timing of Asbestos Discovery

Posted on: March 28th, 2018 at 5:15 am by

The struggle between landlord and displaced tenants of 85 Bowery continues to intensify. Still homeless over two months after the city-mandated eviction, affected families are calling bullshit on the discovery of asbestos while replacing the unstable staircase.

“This discovery, coming just days before the tenants were supposed to be allowed home, is suspiciously timed,” says the latest press release from tenants. “Construction has been allegedly going on for over two months, but somehow asbestos is discovered in this old tenement building just days before the deadline.”

Since the January 18 vacate order, the battle with landlord Joseph Betesh has been fought not only in court, but in public. Betesh maintains they’re doing everything possible to rehabilitate the building for tenants’ return; the other side claims posturing.

To that end, advocates are holding another rally outside DOB headquarters later today (280 Broadway, 4pm) to “protest Department of Buildings’ inability to prioritize the safety of the tenants over the greed of the landlord.”

Meanwhile, the city partially rescinded the vacate order on 85 Bowery earlier this month after the completion of the new staircase.

More from the advisory:

When this [initial 2-week] deadline passed without any repercussions for the landlord, eight elderly tenants went on hunger strike outside the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. After 5 days of sitting in the freezing cold and rain, the tenants were promised they could return home by March 28th. But yet again, they were lied to.

On March 21st, during a scheduled court date, after weeks of saying they were on schedule, the landlord, Joseph Betesh pushed back the deadline saying asbestos was found in the building. This discovery, coming just days before the tenants were supposed to be allowed home, is suspiciously timed. Construction has been allegedly going on for over two months, but somehow asbestos is discovered in this old tenement building just days before the deadline.

March 28th is another deadline missed by City officials to ensure the safe return of the 85 Bowery tenants to their homes. For two years, the City failed to hold the landlord accountable to make court-ordered repairs to the building. This neglect resulted in the mass removal of all 75 tenants on January 18th. Now two more deadlines have come and gone with no consequences for the landlord despite repeated calls for his prosecution.

However the Mayor’s developer-friendly agenda that has City agencies helping landlords displace tenants has drawn anti-displacement groups from across the City to the sides of the tenants. The Mayor is at the head of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) that failed to enforce its own order for the landlord Joseph Betesh to repair the building, and the DOB, which is now further delaying their return.

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