On January 14, 2019, rent stabilized tenants from 97 and 99 Clay Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn and North Brooklyn Community groups rallied in front of 199 Lee Avenue (their landlord’s known address) to demand safe apartments and the end of disruptive, unsafe, and aggressive construction at their buildings. For the past year these tenants have fought to keep their affordable homes and had to deal with harassment taking the form of: lack of heat and hot water, cascading leaks through electric lights, excessive debris, front door to building removed for two months, etc. Currently there are 169 Housing Code Violations and a number of NYC Dept. of Buildings’ violations (such as the removal of fireproofing) that resulted in several stop work orders. During this time they have had no way to directly contact their landlord. They have only been given an address of a mailbox at 199 Lee Avenue, a storefront providing mailbox services.
Gretchen Mongrain, a tenant of 97 Clay Street, said, “For the past few years repairs inside our apartments have been done by an unprofessional super who often damages parts of our apartments during the repair and purposely makes the repair look like garbage. Here are photos of when he ripped out my radiator last winter and re-installed in on a piece of un-sanded wood he found in the garbage, then left a gaping hole in the wall behind the radiator and filled in holes in the floor with cheap putty. The super sends a photo of all repairs he makes to our landlords which means they approved of the completely unprofessional repair.”
“Ownership has done everything they can to push out me and my fellow tenants through an unprofessional, unsafe, and even manipulative construction process. We’ve been bullied and harassed. All we desire are the basic tenant rights and fair treatment we are guaranteed by law and to be given the services we pay for,” said George Manatos, 97 Clay St. tenant
97 and 99 Clay Street is a cluster of four buildings with a total of 25 apartments units. Currently there are only five remaining tenants. The properties were purchased in 2014 by LJC Towers LLC. These buildings are in Greenpoint Brooklyn, a heavily gentrified area that is a ground zero of displacement for long-term rent stabilized tenants.
Assemblyman Joe Lentol, said “As a landlord, you are responsible for providing your tenants with a certain quality of life that goes beyond the minimum government requirements. And in the case of 97 and 99 Clay Street, the landlords haven’t even met the least of their obligations.”
The day after the rally stirred up news coverage the tenants reported some clean-up had occurred and that they were giving new mailboxes but not the keys to them.