Rent-stabilized tenants residing in 1187 Anderson Avenue, 1195 Anderson Avenue, 1220 Shakespeare Avenue, 1230 Woodycrest Avenue announce a court case against the landlord in order to force them to make repairs. After one year of organizing, tenants have battled against the landlord’s attempt to remove their rent stabilization and the possibility that their ConEdison services would be shut off. Tenants were organized with the help of New Settlement’s membership-driven tenant organizing project, Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA), and represented by Bronx Legal Services’ Tenant Rights Coalition.
“Today we are happy because we are taking the next step in the fight to have Emerald Equity Group treat us like human beings,” said Julius Bennet, 1230 Woodycrest tenant leader.
In April 2021, tenants first received notices from DHCR informing them that their landlord Isaac Kassirer of Emerald Equity Group filed an application with the agency citing a J-51 tax credit following substantial rehabilitation back in the 1990s. J-51 is a loophole that allows for landlords to deregulate in certain situations in exchange for rehab work. Tenants believe the landlord’s application was an attempt to drive up rents to price them out, deny lease renewals, and push them out of their long-time homes to replace them with higher-paying tenants in the same vein as other neighborhoods have been gentrified. Tenants organized to fight the application and won a decision denying the landlord’s application in February 2021.
Read DHCR’s decisions here.
But the tenants’ organizing efforts and struggle is not over. Tenants continue to demand to force their landlord to repair hazardous conditions in the buildings, including rodents, roaches, mold, leaks, plumbing problems, inconsistent heat and hot water, and dysfunctional elevators. There are currently 229 open HPD violations across the three buildings.
In winter 2021-2022, 1230 Woodycrest and 1187 Anderson tenants also received a shut off notice from ConEdison, as the landlord has neglected to pay the bills. Tenants held a rally on March 01, 2022 to demand the landlord pay their bills, and held a townhall with their elected officials on April 05, 2022, but have only won temporary relief so far.
About New Settlements’ Community Action For Safe Apartments (CASA)
Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) is New Settlement’s housing organizing initiative. CASA is made up of community residents in our densely populated and underserved area of the Southwest Bronx who work together to build our knowledge and leadership to improve the living conditions in our neighborhood and maintain affordable housing through collective action. CASA’s multifaceted work combines building-specific tenant organizing, neighborhood-based campaigns, tenants’ rights workshops, legal clinics, monthly community meetings and a leadership development program. CASA also heavily participates in the work of other coalitions that advocate for legislation to preserve affordable housing and better protect tenants.
About Bronx Legal Services’ Tenant Rights Coalition
Bronx Legal Services’ Tenant Rights Coalition, a program of Legal Services NYC, fights poverty and seeks racial, social, and economic justice for low-income New Yorkers. For 50 years, Bronx Legal Services has challenged systemic injustice and helped clients meet basic needs for housing, access to high-quality education, health care, family stability, and income and economic security. Legal Services NYC is the largest civil legal services provider in the country, with neighborhood-based offices across all five boroughs helping more than 110,000 New Yorkers annually. The work of Bronx Legal Services’ Tenant Rights Coalition is funded by NYC Human Resources Administration’s Anti-Harassment and Tenant Protection program.