Congresswoman Velázquez Calls on DA to Investigate 85 Bowery
When workers hired by landlord Joseph Betesh (aka 8385 Bowery, LLC) last Wednesday cleared out 85 Bowery, and discarded personal items belonging to its displaced tenants, the disposal immediately touched off a firestorm of animosity on both sides. Outcry continues apace, snowballing into a larger story, with politicians now swarming the scene.
To recap: Betesh, purportedly under recent court order and ahead of asbestos abatement activity, had granted access for tenants to retrieve possessions from 85 Bowery. Any remainders would then be transferred to an offsite storage unit at the landlord’s expense. Only perishable items would be trashed. Instead, personal belongings were recklessly discarded on the sidewalk, forcing owners to dumpster dive to retrieve their belongings.
Betesh admitted through a spokesperson that “mistakes were made” by the workers.
On Friday afternoon, U.S. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez weighed in, beckoning Manhattan District Attorney Vance in a letter to investigate the incident further. The congressional representative believes that the actions undertaken by the landlord at 85 Bowery “may potentially constitute tenant harassment,” and that Vance should launch an inquiry.
Her letter summarizes the toxic tenant-landlord situation, and specifically cites a relevant passage from New York’s Housing Maintenance Code Section 27-2004, which defines tenant harassment. The code identifies “removing the possessions of any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of such dwelling unit” as an example of such harassment.
“I remain deeply concerned that 8385 Bowery, LLC continues operating in a manner aimed ultimately at displacing these tenants, rather than living up to its legal obligation of appropriately maintaining these properties,” Velázquez wrote.
Below is the full letter to Vance: