230 Manhattan Ave. and 272 Stagg St. tenants want to retain affordable rents
Some local landlords are using winter as their accomplice in the harassment of their rent stabilized tenants. When it’s cold outside they don’t let the heat inside doesn’t reach the appropriate temperature or allow its function to be inconsistent: one day heat, two days no heat, three days heat, one day no heat, etc. It’s enough to drive one crazy or make one physically ill. Then when you attempt to contact your landlord for repairs he is nowhere to be found, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
230 Manhattan Avenue
Maria Diaz has lived with her two sisters at 230 Manhattan Avenue for 22 years. “The building’s former owner was elderly and sold the building because at his age it became too much for him to keep up,” said Diaz. The new owner is unreachable except when trying to offer the tenants buyouts. This neglect is seems intentional as since he took possession of 230 Manhattan Ave. the building’s heating is inadequate and inconsistent, there are leaks in the plumbing, plus mold, wiring, and construction issues that have gone unattended.
Diaz shares these difficulties with her fellow tenants; all of which have lived in the building for several decades. They all depend upon affordable housing and would not be able to afford to pay the current market rate that has skyrocketed in Williamsburg. Diaz learned that the new landlord has a cruel reputation, and he communicated his goal is to double the size of the building. His first order of business as the building’s new owner was to offer the current tenants buyouts. Diaz says it’s not about the money; this is her home and community. “We built a lot of what the culture in the neighborhood is about. No one wanted to develop here [when we first moved here].”
The tenants of 230 Manhattan Ave. began the fight for their housing rights last May. Many of them learned of these rights by going to UNO meetings and receiving help from St. Nicks Alliance. They held a rally on February 5th and were joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and St. Nicks Alliance. They intend to go to court to gain further protections.
272 Stagg Street
Tenants of 272 Stagg St. have been dealing with an assortment of intimidation tactics from their landlord’s agents. Their cooking gas was shut off, a contractor for the building told them they should move or would end up homeless, and illegal, disruptive, and unsafe demolition has been conducted on vacant apartments and the basement. The tenants have been filing complaints against Silvio Cruz (their landlord) since November.
After the Department of Buildings (DOB) inspected the property in early February a stop work order was issued on the building. Thirteen hazardous violations were entered into the record and if Cruz doesn’t correct them in good time litigation and emergency repairs may come from the City.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A’s Rachel Nager is advocating for the The Stagg St. tenants. She filed a case in housing court accusing Cruz of tenant harassment and illegal construction.