Ask any New Yorker about a bad experience with a landlord, and they’ll probably have a story or two to tell. Even so, few of us can imagine the horror endured by residents of Bushwick’s 98 Linden Street, whose landlords were arrested last month for sending henchmen with sledgehammers to demolish apartments where people were still living.
Though extreme, that kind of landlord abuse is sadly not an anomaly in our neighborhood. As Bushwick real estate grows ever hotter, tenants in rent-stabilized apartments are increasingly subject to neglect, harassment, and other unsavory tactics by predatory landlords trying to push them out to make room for more lucrative, market-rate renters.
Tomorrow (Friday) at noon, ACABO (Allied Communities Against Buy-Outs), a new coalition fighting displacement of long-time residents in North Brooklyn and Ridgewood, is hosting a rally in Maria Hernandez Park to raise awareness of tenants’ rights to stand up to bullying landlords and remain in their homes.
After the rally, the activists will disperse into the surrounding blocks and go door-to-door to rent-stabilized buildings with their message. This is a kick-off event for ACABO, which brings together a who’s who of local groups working to promote tenants’ rights and elected representatives from all levels of government, from Council Member Antonio Reynoso to Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.
The “buyouts” the group opposes are attempts by landlords to induce long-time, rent-stabilized tenants to leave their apartments with cash payments. While a buyout might sound nice in theory, the sums offered are rarely enough to ensure financial security for low-income tenants losing a rent-stabilized home. Moreover, buyout offers are often accompanied by threats and can serve as a prelude to ongoing harassment when tenants don’t accept an offer.
Legislation was recently introduced in the City Council that would treat repeated attempts by landlords to buy out a tenant as a form of illegal harassment. Buyouts also erode the city’s diminishing stock of rent-stabilized apartments; after a vacancy, landlords can raise rents dramatically and effectively remove the apartment from rent-stabilized status.
The ACABO rally begins at noon tomorrow in the park’s central square. At 1:00 pm, the group will be holding a press conference. All are welcome to attend.