Vacate Order Lifted, 85 Bowery Residents Finally Return Home Today
Well that timetable ran right down to the wire.
After being displaced for nearly eight months, the tenants of 85 Bowery are returning home today. Department of Buildings lifted the longstanding vacate order on Wednesday, permitting this late-summer homecoming.
Early last month, litigation was settled between landlord Joseph Betesh and displaced residents, with an agreement that August 31 would be the very latest date before residents could return.
In celebration of this hard-fought victory – through umpteen rallies and a few hunger strikes – the grassroots Coalition to Protect Chinatown and Lower East Side and Youth Against Displacement is throwing a party at the doorstep of 85 Bowery (3pm). The community is invited to participate in the festivities, which include a lion dance, speeches from tenant leaders, and other community leaders who have stood in solidarity with the tenants.
“[Tenants] recognize that it is only through everyone’s effort that they were able to break through the city’s corruption and win such an agreement,” Coalition spokesperson Zishun Ning noted in a press release. “They would like to thank the Democratic Socialists of America and many other activist groups across the City, including the Citywide Alliance Against Displacement.”
Team Betesh was more rosy about the news.
“The rehabilitation of 85 Bowery has been completed ahead of schedule and the City’s vacate order has now been lifted,” a spokesperson for the landlord said in a statement. “Our team has replaced the staircase that initially caused the vacate order, replaced dozens of rotted floor joists on each floor of the building and rectified all issues regarding the unlawful partitions installed under previous ownership. Additionally, new appliances approved by the residents have been installed in each apartment.”
As previously reported, more than seventy-five residents were evacuated from the sixteen-unit 85 Bowery on January 18, stemming from this years-running dispute between tenant and landlord. The latter claimed all along that repairs were necessary, while the former accused Betesh of letting the property fall into disrepair as justification for eviction.