Updated April 9, 2015
Legal Clinic for Tenants/Families of All Affected Buildings
Monday, April 20, 2015, 7 PM @ 59-61 E 4th St, 4th Floor
Attorneys and housing advocates will be present to inform tenants of their housing and personal property damage rights. No appointment is necessary. Tenants, relatives and their friends are welcomed to this meeting.
Sponsored by GOLES and CSC
It’s been 2 weeks since the tragic explosion at Sushi Park at 121 2nd Avenue caused a fire that resulted in the collapse of 119, 121 and 123 Second Avenue. We join in mourning the death of two young men, and the injuries sustained by many others.
15 households in the collapsed buildings lost their homes. Multiple buildings had vacated orders in the immediate aftermath, affecting over 180 households and temporarily closing two dozen businesses. Two buildings, 125 Second Avenue (26 residential units and 2 stores) and 41-43 East 7th Street (22 residential units) still have vacate orders in effect.
The NYC Dept. of Buildings stated at a public meeting on April 2nd that they think the vacate can be lifted on the residential units in 2 to 3 weeks once windows on the east side of the building and broken doors are replaced. 125 Second Avenue has more damage, and repairs are likely to take 4 to 6 weeks before the vacate order can be lifted on most of the units. 4 apartments on the top 2 floors had fire damage and repairs are likely to take several months.
The City’s Resident Service Center is now located at 59 East 4th Street in the Community Board 3 office, which will remain in operation til the end of this week. Multiple agencies, including the NYC Office of Emergency Management, the American Red Cross, NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development, the Human Resources Administration, Con Edison, the ASPCA and Lower East Side Ready have worked to staff it over the past two weeks.
As a member of Lower East Side Ready, the Cooper Square Committee (CSC) partnered with GOLES to co-sponsor a legal clinic on March 30th for displaced tenants, inviting attorneys from MFY Legal Services and the Urban Justice Center as well as a couple of private attorneys to advise tenants about how they can secure their right to return, expedite repairs and obtain compensation for damages.
Follow up meetings with affected buildings are planned. Given that a criminal investigation is underway, criminal and civil cases are likely to be a lengthy process.
CSC and the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association (MHA) have begun to interview several of the tenants whose homes were destroyed to arrange placing them in temporary housing in MHA apartments. Other housing providers have also offered assistance. We will continue to work with our local elected officials, government agencies and non-profit partners to assist affected residents and businesses in any way we can to help them recover from this disaster. If you wish to offer financial support to those affected, you may donate to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC (link below).
~Steve Herrick, Executive Director
- If you are concerned about the welfare of someone who may have been affected by the collapse and are unable to contact them, please call 311. From outside of NYC, call (212) 639-9675.
- Get updates from NYC via text and email, and read online: https://a858-nycnotify.nyc.gov/notifynyc/
- Information on smoke inhalation and more from the NYC Dept of Health: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/environmental/east-village-building-collapse.shtml
LES Ready, a nonprofit based in the Lower East Side, is looking for volunteers to assist with longterm recover efforts for victims and their families. Fill out a form at LES Ready’s website or email email@example.com
The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is accepting donations to assist those affected, here.
- Contact information on organizations assisting the victims, including Red Cross and HPD
Tenants’ Rights I
Mar 24, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY – 6 East 3rd Street
Applying for Affordable Housing: Step by Step
Apr 13, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY
Campaign to Strengthen and Renew Rent Stabilization Laws
Apr 21, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY
Tenants’ Rights II
May 19, 2015 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (EDT)
HOWL! Happening, New York NY
Our organizing team was so busy in 2014. We accomplished a ton in this past year… read on about all the ways we’ve been stopping displacement and building community!!
Major Organizing Efforts and Coalitions
- Through partnering with St. Nick’s alliance and the Urban Justice Center (UJC), Cooper Square Committee (CSC) created a much-needed campaign to reform the Department of Buildings (DOB) in 2014. For well over a year preceding this we had been working with community members to organize and draw attention to the problem of “construction as harassment.” In 2014 we were able to further connect with some of our most steadfast allies (close to 20 organizations) throughout the City to formalize a campaign to reform DOB and work on ending “construction as harassment.” The work we did last year is leading us to a pivotal year in 2015 where we will be looking to create new laws to better support tenants who are dealing with landlords who use the guise of construction to harass.
Click on any photo to enlarge. All photos on this page taken by CSC unless otherwise noted.
- CSC’s organizing department was a lead community-group partner with the NYS Attorney General’s (AG) office in their investigation of the “tenant relocator” Michel Pimienta. The organizing we did and information we provided helped the AG wage a precedent-setting investigation which led to the shuttering of Michel’s operations. UJC and CAAAV were also partners in this effort.
Led the organizing to help form the Mahfar Tenants Coalition. Both UJC and CAAAV are also involved with the amazing work happening here. This coalition, which includes half a dozen Samy Mahfar (SMA Equities) owned buildings, is fiercely pushing back against this landlord’s attempt to vacate and renovate Lower East Side (LES) buildings en masse. In 2014 the tenants from these buildings called Mahfar to the table, used city agencies and local politicians to step up enforcement in their buildings, and held a powerful press conference in December 2014 after lead contamination was verified to have occurred in their buildings. The tenants of the Mahfar Tenants Coalition have proven to be some of the strongest fighters we’ve seen in 2014! Read More
PRESS RELEASE BELOW:
|For Immediate Release
DECEMBER 10, 2014
PDF Link here (bit.ly/mahfar210)
|Contact: Brandon Kielbasa
(212) 228-8210 firstname.lastname@example.org
MAHFAR TENANTS COALITION DEMANDS PROPER MITIGATION OF LEAD DURING CONSTRUCTION
Tenants find high lead concentrations in their buildings and speak out against the unsafe construction practices used by LES landlord Samy Mahfar.
WHAT: Press Conference / WHERE: 210 Rivington St. / WHEN: 12:30pm – 1:30pm
1% and 2.75%
Despite a massive turnout of tenants at last night’s Rent Guidelines Board vote, and calls for a rent freeze, the RGB voted for a 1% increase on one-year leases, and 2.75% for two-year leases. While it’s disappointing that the RGB didn’t vote for a rent freeze, the 1% increase for a one-year lease is the lowest ever in the 45 year history of the RGB. The tenants’ movement can take credit for making that happen. Now let’s focus on strengthening the NY State rent laws when they come up for renewal in June of next year. Let’s stay mobilized!
~ Steve Herrick, Executive Director
We are working on collecting data on what tenants face during mismanaged construction so that we can create new laws and put an end to it. If this is something you have experienced, please come into the CSC office (61 E 4th St) to pick up and fill out a Real-Time Enforcement Construction survey. Tenant leaders and CSC organizers can also bring surveys to your building for you and your neighbors to fill out, or you can get help get involved with mass distribution yourself! Email Brandon for more details.
In the summer of 2010, I was facing some financial difficulty and had fallen behind on rent payments for my rent stabilized apartment on Ave B. Fearing that I would be evicted from my apartment, I was recommended by a friend to get in touch with Brandon Kielbasa at The Cooper Square Committee. Brandon had previously helped her with some issues that she was having in her Lower East Side apartment, and she informed me that the Committee was a great recourse for East Village residents.