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Court grants tenants the right to stay in Astoria dorms until Nov., fight against religious group trying to evict them continues

31-65 46th Street

October 18, By Tara Law

Tenants of a dormitory-style building in Astoria won a temporary restraining order Monday against their landlord who had allegedly been trying to kick them out since December by making their building uninhabitable.

The tenants claimed that their landlord NYSUM, an Astoria-based Christian ministry, had stopped providing basic services at their 31-65 46th Street building as a means to get rid of them.

They stated that NYSUM had stopped providing housekeeping and janitorial services, and was no longer collecting the trash. In addition, they claimed that NYSUM had removed furniture and computers from the building’s shared space and disconnected the building’s Wi-Fi.

The tenants were awarded a temporary restraining order that requires NYSUM to stop harassing them through such measures as removing furniture and services. The award also stops NYSUM from commencing any legal action to evict the tenants until Nov. 16, when another hearing will be held.

The dormitory style building is divided into 39 single occupancy rooms and the tenants share common spaces such as living rooms, bathrooms and kitchens. The tenants pay $350 to $500 a month in rent for their room

Twelve of the tenants, backed by the Legal Aid Society, petitioned for the restraining order and are fighting to stay.

The whole issue began in November when NYSUM handed its tenants with eviction notices, informing them that they had to leave by the end of the 2016.  Most refused to go.

In February, the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit on behalf of the tenants arguing that the apartments are protected by the Rent Stabilization laws, which requires renewable leases—and therefore prevents them from being kicked out. NYSUM argues that it has that right to evict the tenants since it doesn’t have to conform to Rent Stabilization laws since it is a non profit.

NYSUM said that it is evicting the tenants because it cannot afford to maintain the building. It wants to convert the property to another use so it can generate more income.

The Legal Aid Society argues that NYSUM does not meet the legal requirements for an exemption as a non-profit charity.

Leslie Hilton, resident, in her room (Dec. 2016)

Sateesh Nori, attorney-in-charge of the Queens Civil Office at The Legal Aid Society, said he hopes the restraining order will prevent NYSUM from cutting back services and is glad that the tenants are protected until November.

A judge will decide on Nov. 16 whether to make the temporary restraining order permanent.

Nori said that NYSUM has yet to file suit against the tenants to get a court order to evict them and that he has been surprised that NYSUM has been unwilling to negotiate increased rents or a plan to relocate the tenants.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Nori said. “It’s a nonprofit and a religious organization. Their motives are a mystery to me.”

 

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9 Comments

Life Long Democrat

Homeless shelter is a scam. You can’t afford to live here you need to move. Its not the end of the world, two thirds of my friends neighbors and relatives had to do since growing up in Astoria and not one of them demanded the Gov’t put them up or create new “affordable” housing for them. This new mentality of entitlement is disgraceful. NYC is expensive and always was and well worth the effort to stride for. Move to a place you can afford, get back on your feet, build a nest egg and come back..Thousands do it every year. Break the cycle of dependency.




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rik

Because NYSUM is trying to do the right thing (or more profitable one) and convert the building into homeless shelter. It sounds better than kicking them out and turning it into an for ex, an airbnb for more money.




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jenastoriat

It’s not what it sounds like. The so-called homeless shelter would received funds from the city and/or state. In other words, creating a shelter is essentially a for-profit enterprise. Also, why exchange one vulnerable population for another? NYSUM’s motivation is questionable, at the least, and it’s argument conflicts itself. They are trying to engage in a profit-enterprise while claiming that long established renter laws don’t apply to them as a NON-profit!!! NYSUM should probably be investigated by the IRS for abusing not-for-profit tax laws for years too.




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lina

You are exactly right! I do not know why you have so many dislikes. I guess people do not want to hear the truth or immediately attack you if you are against a homeless shelter. All these younger renters in Astoria are totally fine with it because they can pack up and move if they do not like it and can still pretend to support the mayors plan. Its the homeowners who are here long term that have to deal with it. Citibikes on every other block, shelters, traffic, noise, robberies, bars, etc. Astoria is a mess. Gone is the solid working class family neighborhood. So glad i moved and rented out my grandmas place.




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john

I live one block away from this place and no i do not want it to turn into a homeless shelter! Shame on the NYSUM for what they are doing to the tenants.




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Cassie

Astoria is not gone… BTW you moan on and on and do the same thing…take the $$$ and run…lol…good thing you had a granny who worked hard.




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Bruno

Rik- there is no homeless crisis it’s fabricated by people who have a high sense of entitlement. Back in the day, if you couldn’t afford to live here you moved to a place you could afford. You didn’t demand the govt to put you and create housing for you.




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young_man!

“It’s a nonprofit and a religious organization. Their motives are a mystery to me.”

Seriously? I think everybody knows their motive – $$$$$

Personally I have no problem with the owners utilizing the property for it’s highest profit potential – perhaps that extra money can be used to help more than just the 39 people who live there.

Story is kind of one sided, too bad the organization that owns the property didn’t explain their side in the article.




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Anonymous

how come JVB isn’t here to keep on fightening for them — he was last time with his photo-op




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