You are reading

Tenants to file lawsuit to stop mass eviction, as landlord wants Astoria property for homeless shelter

Jan. 23, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan

Nearly 40 tenants who were notified in November that they were being evicted from an Astoria dormitory-style building are starting to fight back.

The tenants who live at the New York School of Urban Ministry, located at 31-65 46th Street, were notified around Thanksgiving that they would have to move out of their $400 to $500 per-month rooms by December 31.

The deadline has been extended until the end of January.

NYSUM wants to get rid of the tenants so it can lease the space to an operator that plans to set up a homeless shelter.

While about 12 residents have already moved out, most of the remaining tenants are planning to fight back with the help of the Legal Aid Society.

“We are close to filing a lawsuit against the New York School of Urban Ministry,” said Sateesh Nori, the attorney in charge of the Queens Branch of the Legal Aid Society.

The lawsuit, which is expected to be filed later this month, aims to prevent NYSUM from kicking them out.

Several local politicians have also gotten involved and have been in talks with the leaders of NYSUM.

NYSUM claims that it is not financially feasible to operate the building in its present dorm-style state. It claims it needs the additional funds that will come when it rents the building to the new operator.

Some of the tenants are concerned that by going into battle with NYSUM they might get tangled up in a legal dispute that could hamper their ability to find housing elsewhere. They fear that prospective landlords will find out about the dispute and then deny them housing.

State Senator Michael Gianaris, upon learning of these fears, plans to introduce legislation that would stop landlords from blacklisting tenants who have been involved in legal disputes with their landlords.

One of the primary concerns NYSUM residents expressed, according to Gianaris, was that they would be blacklisted and unable to find housing in the future if they stood up for their rights as tenants in court, whether they won or lost.

The blacklisting legislation would make it illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to tenants because of their previous involvement in a tenant-landlord dispute.

It would also give the affected tenant the ability to file a complaint through the state division of human rights that could result in civil damages, according to Gianaris’ office.

“Too many residents get the short end of the stick simply by asserting their legal rights. We cannot allow unscrupulous landlords to discriminate against tenants who are simply fighting to keep a roof over their heads,” Gianaris said in a statement.

email the author: [email protected]

3 Comments

Click for Comments 
Poparoo 46

Just get out you dont belong here. Out now. Poparoo!!!!! Your ruining our neighborhood maaaaaaaaan!

Reply
MS

New York School of Urban Ministry (“NYSUM”) is a very legitimate and reputable organization. They are on the list as a food pantry that permits the community to pick up free food. I have taken advantage of this opportunity when I lost my job.

In addition, NYSUM has permitted people to live on the premises rent free when those individuals were unable to pay rent. I personally know someone who took advantage of NYSUM’s kindness by not working for a rather lengthy amount of time and not paying rent.

I wonder how many of those individuals who have filed this lawsuit are actually paying NYSUM rent and are not free loaders.

Reply
TaxAllReligiousInsitutions

Now let me see if I understand this. This Christian Urban Ministry is forcing these tenants out so that they can bring in homeless people. Now tell me if that makes sense. Something tells me that they’ve found some way to scam the system to make more money off of the “homeless” people. The city probably gives a higher premium on taking them in, and therefore, being good Christians, they want to make money. And, the great thing, is they probably get a tax break on top of it.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.