Williamsburg tenants protest landlord displacement
by Kathleen Lees
Jul 31, 2012 | 2748 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jadwiga Bronte wasn’t expecting to be at the center of a housing issue when she moved into her apartment on 167 Bedford Ave.

Complaining of a leak in the basement, Bronte said landlord Jamal Alokasheh asked for her apartment key. She said she returned to see six workman dismantling items in her apartment. “After that, I said I’m going to fight back.”

With the help of Martin Needleman, project director and chief counsel of Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation, an organization that helps provide legal services, Bronte won a case in court against her landlord and is helping friends in the building with similar circumstances.

Alokasheh did not respond to an interview request.

A rally led by Mobilization Against Displacement, a coalition that advocates for tenants in Brooklyn, was held on Wednesday, July 25, in front of 193 Bedford Ave., another site where tenants claim that landlords have been using underhanded tactics to force them from their rent-controlled apartments so they can get higher rents.

Organizers say those tactics include damaging buildings and neglecting repairs until the Department of Buildings is finally forced to issue a vacate order.

Long-time community member and representative for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Evelyn Cruz, discussed the importance of taking action.

“It’s not enough to wear buttons and say ‘save affordable housing,’” she said. “It means standing in the trenches. When a landlord is greedy and only interested in evicting affordable housing residents for the benefit of high-yielding rent, this is not acceptable.”

“I was a victim of displacement in this neighborhood where a landlord for 13 years ignored our family, turned off utilities, lights, gas and water every chance they got,” said Councilwoman Diana Reyna.

Remembering testifying in court as a child, Reyna admitted “After everything, it’s those experiences that make you stronger.”

Other sites where there has been alleged landlord displacement include 202 Franklin Street in Greenpoint, as well as 172 North 8th St., 167 Bedford Ave., 79 South 6th St., and 684 Flushing Ave. in various parts of Williamsburg.

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