At City Hall with the 85 Bowery Hunger Strike [PHOTOS]
Displaced tenants of 85 Bowery gathered yesterday on the steps of City Hall to protest their plight. The rally was a resumption of the media-friendly hunger strike meant to humanize the frustration due to the ongoing displacement and delays in building repairs. And to put an end to Mayor de Blasio’s so-called “displacement agenda.” Seven tenants are fasting.
Demands of Hizzoner are as follows:
- Guarantee on paper a deadline by which the tenants can return home to 85 Bowery
- Stop having City agencies evict tenants on behalf of landlords
- End pro-developers displacement agenda; instead, pass community-led rezoning plans like the Chinatown Working Group plan
Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, a staunch political advocate, remains on the front line of this battle.
“It has been almost half a year since these tenants were evacuated, and still, [landlord Joseph Betesh has] no clear idea of when they will be able to return home,” Niou said in a public statement. “It has been one delay after another. “85 Bowery tenants were initially supposed to move back into their apartments at the end of March, now, there’s a chance that some work will not be complete until late in summer. I urge the city and the landlord to provide a transparent and clear timeline that includes a date for tenants to move back in. I continue to stand with the tenants of 85 Bowery, and I hope that we can work together to bring these families home swiftly.”
Landlord Joseph Betesh, meanwhile, maintains that work is moving as fast as possible.
“Our team has been working every day for months to make 85 Bowery safe and to correct dangerous conditions which predated our ownership, and which caused the Department of Buildings to order the building repaired because the ‘public is at risk,'” a Betesh spokesperson tells us. “Our expenditures so far have included an architect selected by the tenants with whom we and the DOB have been working on a plan to rehabilitate the apartments, work which we expect to finish as soon as the building is safe. Throughout this time, we have provided quality hotel accommodations in Chinatown at our expense for families of 85 Bowery to ensure they are able to remain in the local community while the work continues. Additionally, we are providing storage space for the residents’ belongings.”