For Immediate Release - July 29, 2014
Contact: Alvaro Franco
People Power Movement joins fight for real affordable housing as tenants organize to stop rent hikes in Kingsbridge Heights, the Bronx.
New York City - In Kingsbridge Heights, where Wall Street real estate developers are fighting over what will be the world’s largest ice skating rink center in the Kingsbridge Armory, local residents are fighting their own battles against rent hikes. Tenants in 2800 University Avenue, just a few blocks from the Armory, are taking a stand against rent increases in their building. They have been supported by the Kingsbridge Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association (KHNIA) and the People Power Movement-Movimiento Poder Popular (PPM-MPP) to organize a tenant meeting in the building lobby. Al Chapman, President of the KHNIA, and Jason Javier, Vice Chair of the PPM-MPP, led the discussion with the aid of English to Spanish translation.
Tenants of the building were in disbelief after being notified that their rent would go up $11.69 per room, including kitchens and living rooms. Most tenants could not believe that a landlord who had provided scanty repairs would be requesting them to pay more rent. In addition, the building has a number of code violations, including a missing side entrance gate and broken side door entrance that have yet to be fixed. The meeting allowed for tenants to voice their opinions and opposition to the rent hike proposal, and to meet others who have lived in the building for decades, some of which have never seen a rent increase before.
This rent hike is due to alleged “Major Capital Improvements” (MCI) to the building, which has recently surfaced throughout the city. The MCI request also includes a permanent rent increase, meaning that tenants will continue to pay higher rent even after the “improvement” costs are paid for. According to sources in the area, 2800 University Avenue is not the only building to be hit by an MCI rent increase. Many in the community feel that this phenomenon is closely related to the changes being made to the towering Kingsbridge Armory in the community. Tenants in buildings like 2800 University Avenue are preparing to fight MCI’s, as well as future potential annual rent increases by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board.
During the meeting, tenants themselves elected representatives in their building to be President, Vice President, and Secretary, and essentially created their first tenant association in over a decade. More importantly, all of these representatives are women of color! The new Tenant Association is demanding for an extension time for a proper response to the notice, and preparing to compile reasons against the MCI rent increase. A few tenants have already responded by refusing to pay higher rent. However, due to the language barrier, most could not understand the MCI notice, nor the part indicating that English is the only language allowed. What is more, some received the MCI notice later than others.
Given that many of the residents do not speak English and that the demographic of the building is majority Black and Latino and working-class, PPM-MPP says that these are racist transgressions that allow landlords to unjustly push people of color out of the area. These acts add to the ever-present issue of gentrification in our communities. This battle can only be achieved through collective action, and tenants in 2800 University Avenue are demonstrating the potential for a movement against gentrification led by the people. Tenants are urged to take action on this injustice!
LANDLORD, LANDLORD, THIS WE SWEAR, WE’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE!
NO MORE RENT HIKES! ! !
The People Power Movement-Movimiento Poder Popular is a democratic people’s organization dedicated to educating, agitating, and organizing for Popular Control of our schools, workplaces, housing, transportation, policing, levels of government, and all areas that affect our lives, to achieve Fundamental Social Change. We identify with the interests and aspirations of poor and working people and consider the anti-racist struggle central in our efforts to obtain a humane society.
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