Displaced Tenants of 85 Bowery to Resume Hunger Strike

Posted on: May 22nd, 2018 at 5:00 am by

Hunger Strike, Feb. 2018

Displaced tenants of 85 Bowery – whose personal belongings were publicly trashed curbside several weeks ago – remain in exile exactly four months after the city issued a full vacate order on the destabilized tenement. With homecoming delayed indefinitely as landlord Joseph Betesh completes renovations, a resumption of the prior hunger strike is now planned for next week.

“The tenants of 85 Bowery are going to resume the hunger strike, given no guarantee has been made to make sure they can return home,” advocates from the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the LES noted in a public statement. “This time, the hunger strike will be in front of City Hall to denounce Mayor de Blasio’s collusion with landlords like Joseph Betesh, as well as his role in pushing for pro-developer housing and zoning policies across the city.”

Families living at 85 Bowery were vacated back on January 18. The heart of the city’s order was the destabilized staircase, which the landlord finally replaced at the end of March. However, the deadline of a March 28 return for tenants did not happen. Discovery of asbestos during construction – or announcement of its presence – pushed the date back indefinitely; though, tenant advocates are quick to point out the suspicious timing of the reveal just days earlier. It’s still anyone’s guess as to when everyone can return.

Below is the full statement from the Coalition:

The tenants of 85 Bowery–including babies and seniors–were displaced in the cold night of January 18, by their landlord Joseph Betesh in collaboration with City agencies with the excuse of making repairs. Since then, these families have been homeless, forced into cramped conditions. The Bowery tenants’ actions to go back home, including a 5-day hunger strike, made the Mayor’s Office oversee the repairs. Nevertheless, Mayor de Blasio not only has allowed Betesh to keep delaying the repair process, but has acquiesced in his most outrageous act–tossing the tenants’ belongings into dumpsters!

The mistreatment of the Bowery tenants is shocking but not surprising, as De Blasio has been pushing for pro-developer rezoning plans, while refusing to pass community-led rezoning plans like the Chinatown Working Group plan. As he makes this a city for the rich, landlords and developers are allowed to displace tenants and communities all across the city. For a mayor who prides himself on being a protector of working families and immigrant communities, this is shameful.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! On May 30th, the 85 Bowery tenants are resuming their hunger strike. They are fighting to go back home and are taking the lead to put an end to De Blasio’s displacement agenda.

The tenants and supporters demand that Mayor de Blasio:

  • Guarantee on paper a deadline by which the tenants can return home
  • 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

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