HomeAsian AmericansDisplaced Tenants of 85 Bowery to Resume Hunger Strike
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Displaced Tenants of 85 Bowery to Resume Hunger Strike

Bowery Street Tenant Rally in Lower Manhattan
Tenants from 85 Bowery in New York’s Chinatown protested their forced displacement. Photo by Corky Lee

Displaced tenants of 85 Bowery vowed to resume a hunger strike in protest of their displacement and mistreatment, reports Bowery Boogie.

The 75 New York Chinatown residents were issues a full vacate order in January so that landlord Joseph Betesh could complete renovations, according to The Lo-Down. Betesh was under court order to a fix an unsafe staircase in the building by February 7, a deadline which was not met. The deadline was pushed back to March 28, but moved back indefinitely, days before the residents planned to return home after an apparent asbestos discovery. The tenants found this discovery suspicious, especially given the announcement’s timing.

Bowery Tenants
Tenants from 85 Bowery in New York’s Chinatown found their belongings thrown into a dumpster. Photo by Karlin Chan

In April, tenants found their personal belongings thrown into dumpsters. The tenants and the Coalition to Protect Chinatown believe that NYC’s Department of Buildings is complicit in helping Betesh “push tenants out.”

On Tuesday, the Coalition to Protect Chinatown announced that tenants will stage a hunger strike in front of City Hall. Below is the full statement from the Coalition, as reported by the New York Crib.

The tenants of 85 Bowery–including babies and seniors–were displaced in the cold night of January 18, by their landlord Joseph Betesh in collaboration with City agencies with the excuse of making repairs. Since then, these families have been homeless, forced into cramped conditions. The Bowery tenants’ actions to go back home, including a 5-day hunger strike, made the Mayor’s Office oversee the repairs. Nevertheless, Mayor de Blasio not only has allowed Betesh to keep delaying the repair process, but has acquiesced in his most outrageous act–tossing the tenants’ belongings into dumpsters!

The mistreatment of the Bowery tenants is shocking but not surprising, as De Blasio has been pushing for pro-developer rezoning plans, while refusing to pass community-led rezoning plans like the Chinatown Working Group plan. As he makes this a city for the rich, landlords and developers are allowed to displace tenants and communities all across the city. For a mayor who prides himself on being a protector of working families and immigrant communities, this is shameful.

The latest hunger strike is set to begin on May 30. The tenants are demanding a guaranteed deadline for repairs, an end to city agencies evicting tenants on behalf of landlords and the passage of community-lead rezoning plans.

These tenants previously staged a hunger strike in February.

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