“Owners are required by law to maintain safe and habitable conditions in their properties. Since this owner failed to fulfill their responsibilities, this building is in significant need of substantial rehabilitation to correct mold, broken plaster, and other conditions causing deterioration throughout the building,” said AnnMarie Santiago, NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services. HPD’s findings at 196 Huron Street were the basis of their support for a 7A administrator to be appointed by housing court. 7 A administrators are authorized to operate privately owned buildings that have been abandoned by their owners, resulting in conditions that are dangerous to the tenants’ life, health, and safety. The administrators act under Court Order to collect rents and use the money to provide essential services to the tenants and make necessary repairs.
“[The landlord] is trying to sell [the building] for $3.5M? And run the tenants out? He should be put in jail for what he’s doing,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “Every person deserves to live in safe, sanitary living conditions and have a place to call home. When a landlord or developer harasses tenants to force them out of their homes, they must be brought to court and held accountable.”
Assembly Member Joseph Lentol mentioned the NYS Senate and Assembly passed a bill that makes it a felony for a landlord to damage his building in order to intimidate rent regulated tenants to move out, but that the bill has still to receive Governor Cuomo’s signature for it to become law. “We discuss ethics in government and politics; but what about with our landlords. I understand that housing can be an investment, but we can never lose sight that we are speaking about someone else’s home. There needs to be an ethic that coercion will not be used and that the quality of the living space will be maintained. When a landlord fails to provide these on his/her own, then the law must kick in to mandate doing the right thing,” said Lentol
The tenants of the building have called it their home for several decades, they’ve raised their families there. Denisse Miramon, a tenant who has lived there her whole life (20 years) said, “I remember Greenpoint before it became Greenpoint the hotspot. Before that every house used to be like mine, but since it became a boom our building has been neglected for far too long.” She went on to list that they live with sporadic lack of heat and hot water and that the mold that has invaded their building has caused health problems, particularly it is the cause of her younger brother’s respiratory issues. They have spoken to the landlord over the years to have these issues fixed but to no avail. When Denisse heard that the landlord was selling the building with the promise it would be vacant that was the final straw, “How is he doing this to us? One of my biggest concerns [sobs] is that he chooses profit over human beings.” Her family and their neighbors organized for the rally and their housing court appearance for the appointment of a 7A administrator.
Council Member Stephen Levin stated, “A lot of people think that Greenpoint/Willliamsburg is already gentrified.” He offered a truer picture of the community as being very diverse, in culture and in economic status. “There are many, many tenants who have held on despite attacks and all types of shady tactics.” He cited his account of a 100-year-old woman who was being harassed out of her apartment. “Where are we as a society?”
“A landlord’s greatest fear is organized tenants. A landlord’s greatest fear is an organized community. We have both of those here today,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso
Rolando Guzman, Dep. Dir. of Community Preservation at St. Nicks Alliance, said, “You have rights. You don’t have to move. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to your elected officials.” Noticing the size of the crowd of supporters he said, “There are three tenants in this building, do you only see [them] here? North Brooklyn is going to stay together as a community and not let our community members be displaced.”