HomeChinese American85 Bowery Tenants Protest Personal Belongings Thrown in Dumpster

85 Bowery Tenants Protest Personal Belongings Thrown in Dumpster

Bowery tenant protest4
Photo by Shirley N Lew

By Shirley N Lew
AsAmNews Staff Writer

“Shame on you,” shouted the evacuated tenants and organizers of 85 Bowery Street outside the offices of New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) in Lower Manhattan.

“Chinatown not for sale! Lower East Side not for sale!” they chanted.

The protest Thursday came two weeks after tenants say they found their personal belongings thrown out and into a dumpster. The landlords ordered the belongings removed after he learned asbestos had been found in the building. The tenants believe city agencies and Joseph Betesh, their landlord, have pushed repairs back even further because of the asbestos, which many believe is a delay tactic.

Bowery Tenants
Photo by Karlin Chan

The tenants were ordered to temporarily leave the building in January after the city deemed their apartment unsafe.

Several days earlier, Sam Spokony a spokesman for Betesh, said that “no usable items were thrown away and that only perishable food and unusable items were being thrown out. However, shockingly, tenants found their prescription drugs, children’s books, clothes, even cash from China all thrown out.

“Throwing out people’s property is a crime. Treating people’s belongings like it’s garbage. What I hope for is the elected officials to bring charges against the landlord, and for the city to take over the project,” Don Lee, a Chinatown Community activist said to AsAmNews.

“We don’t even know what’s missing. We don’t even have a chance to see what’s missing or go get something in the apartment,” said Vincent Cao, of Youth Against Displacement said. “They say ‘Okay, we can come into the building,’ but then last minute they say, ‘No,’ they are not prepared for us to come in.”

These tired and angry tenants are demanding city agencies stop “colluding” with developers and allowing landlords to use DOB to kick tenants out. Most importantly, they demand the city to give them definite return date to return home.

Near the end of the rally, the organizers tried to deliver a letter to the DOB, but the NYPD told them everyone from DOB had already left for the day. After some negotiating, Cao said NYPD allowed the organizers into the building to drop off the letter as he explains in this interview.

The letter tells the DOB that it is illegal for them to not provide a work completion date in their vacate order, which will allow Betesh to make continuous excuses to further delay the tenants return. They want the DOB to respond in two weeks.

Community representatives of Harlem, South Bronx, and Brooklyn also joined in the rally.

This is their second rally at DOB at 280 Broadway, but third overall since their eviction in January. There was a rally at the Housing and Urban Preservation (HUP) office in February and a four day hunger strike which ended just before Lunar New Year.

Bestesh was cited for safety violations two years ago, but tenants say he waited until the deadline for repairs to evict the tenants on a frigid January evening. Many tenants are still staying with friends or family or in a Chinatown hotel at the cost of Betesh. New York City’s Mayor Bill De Blasio has not made any comments about the tenants plight.


AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart.  We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns.  Check out our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content.  Please consider interning, joining our staff or submitting a story.





Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Worth the Time

Must Read

Regular Features


Discover more from AsAmNews

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading