After a devastating fire on April 14th destroyed the homes of more than 140 predominantly Hispanic households- of a rent stabilized apartment building in Jackson Heights- the displaced tenants are now suing the property owners Kedex Properties and the city of New York. It has been 5 months since the disaster and the property owners have not made any progress repairing the heavily damaged building, despite being required to do so under state law. The apartments remain in unlivable conditions, violating 129 housing code conditions, with no timeline as to when the repairs will be completed. As a result, the majority of tenants, many of whom have called the building home for decades and built their lives and memories there, are now unhoused, unable to return to their homes or salvage their belongings.
To add insult to injury, the tenants’ lives have been uprooted in every single way. People have been placed in temporary hotel room housing far from their workplaces, schools, and communities- in less than ideal arrangements. The tenants remain in a precarious situation, not knowing how much longer they will even be allowed to stay at the hotels. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has attempted to move tenants to cramped shelters in the middle of this pandemic. Options for more permanent affordable housing in the area are exceedingly limited, especially as tenants have been financially limited due to the fire. Only 20 affordable apartments in Jackson Heights have been built under de Blasio’s housing program, nowhere near enough for the approximately 500 displaced residents. This unacceptable handling of the fire and its aftermath by New York City and Kedex Properties is inhumane! The residents of 89th St deserve more.
Like the residents of 89th St, tenants all over New York City have suffered in a myriad of ways throughout the pandemic, especially in terms of housing. NYCHA residents have died from COVID-19 at a rate nearly double of the greater New York population. Inaccessible rent relief programs have not provided most people with crucial relief, a vital financial resource as eviction moratoriums end across the country. Underlining all of these struggles is the continued negligence towards poor, working class New Yorkers and our fundamental rights for affordable, fair housing.
Cathy Rojas stands in solidarity with the tenants of 89th Street and all poor, working class tenants in NYC! As a socialist candidate, with a socialist platform- Rojas would work to ensure that tenants, like those from 89th Street, community members who have lost their homes- will be housed. That is only possible with a candidate that places the interests of working people over those of private landlords and developers. Repairs will be initiated promptly and transparently, and to those who can no longer return, they will have access to stable affordable housing within the communities that they have built their lives around. Housing for the displaced tenants of 89th Street! Housing for everyone now because livable, adequate housing is a human right!