HomeChinese American85 Bowery St. Tenants Possible Hunger Strike to Begin February 7

85 Bowery St. Tenants Possible Hunger Strike to Begin February 7

By Shirley L. Ng
AsAmNews Staff Writer
Photos by Corky Lee

The Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side said the tenants of 85 Bowery Street might begin a hunger strike on February 7 if they are not returned to their homes by then.

85 Bowery Street remains empty after January 18 eviction by landlord, Joseph Betesh. Photo by Shirley N Lew

There has already been two rallies in the past two weeks by the tenants of 85 Bowery Street and supporters in Lower Manhattan. They demanded that the landlord Joseph Betesh be prosecuted and that the Departement of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) make the repairs so the tenants can return home as soon as possible.

Tenants and supporters rally in Lower Manhattan.

Betesh was given two years by the NY Department of Buildings to repair the staircase in the building which tenants say he procrastinated in doing so, suddenly deemed the staircase a hazard and had the city evict all the tenants which included a newborn baby and many elderly during one of the coldest days of the season on January 18 in the evening.

All of the 75 tenants suddenly found themselves in holding at ISI 131 a local public school, then onto a Brooklyn shelter. As of last week, some are now staying at the Wyndham Garden Hotel at 80 Bowery Street, a few doors down at the cost of Betesh, a demand from tenants and supporters for him to pay for accommodations closer to home. NYC Councilwoman Margaret Chin said she will introduce legislation that landlords must pay for tenant’s housing if they are relocated for needed repairs

Jinming Cao, a representative of the 83-85 Bowery Tenants Association said. “The shelters have mice, the children are scared. There are bed bugs and no toilet paper,” he tells me.  He also questions whether Chin played a role in getting Betesh to pay for the rooms at Wyndham Garden Hotel.

He also said, “We are spending a lot of money paying for transportation to get the tenants from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back to Brooklyn.”

Instructions to find assistance and translation.Photo by Corky Lee

Cao said the tenants do not know how to navigate the subway system from Brooklyn to Manhattan Chinatown where the children go to school and some work. The tenants’ entire livelihood is Chinatown and the elderly  are dependent on the social services and senior centers there. 

According to the Lo-Down on Feburary 1st,  Betesh’s company (Bowery 8385, LLC) released a statement: “We are providing these quality hotel accommodations for families of 85 Bowery to ensure they are able to remain in the local community while our work continues. Our team is working diligently each day to repair the severely damaged infrastructure of 85 Bowery and make the building safe for habitation. We all share the same goal – moving families back into their homes as quickly as possible.”

AsAmNews tried to reach Betesh for comment last week, but our telephone call just kept ringing. Today, a call to the same number now has a recorded message: “The person you called is unavailable right now. Please try again later.” There was no option to leave a message.

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