Throughout our coverage of evictions and foreclosures these past few months, there's been a giant elephant in the room: Just about everyone one we've reported on has been black or hispanic.
Although there is no doubt the housing crisis is affecting minorities in the outer boroughs the most, this very serious problem can be found all over New York City.
Yesterday evening, a crowd of over 100, made up mostly of Lower East Side residents and activists gathered outside an apartment complex on 58 East 3rd Street to rally against the building's landlord, who has, apparently, demanded residents of the five-story apartment building, along with two neighboring buildings (50 and 54 East 3rd Street), to move out within 60 days. [Click on "read more" or http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/05/lower_east_side_3.php for the rest of the article]
Sue Palchak, a social worker who's been living, with her husband, in one of the buildings for the past two years, said the landlord, from Abart Holdings LLC, informed them that they must move out within 60 days.
"He refused to give us an explanation," Palchak said. "We've been getting threatening phone calls telling us that 'there'd be trouble if we don't leave' lately."
Palchak said the building is being put up for sale, and Abart Holdings are hoping to empty out the buildings to leverage a higher bid.
The Palchaks' are supposed to be out by this Sunday; they have not found another place to move yet.
"We don't have the money it takes to move out within 60 days right now," she said. "What are we supposed to do? We'll be on the streets."
Supporters of the rally included members of community groups, and neighbors on the block, many of whom have seen a similar incident three years ago, when tenants from a 15-unit apartment complex were forced out within 60 days.
Even people who are not directly affected, such as Peter Gee of Asian American For Equality, showed up to support.
Claire Birmingham, a neighbor on the block, said she's heard neighbors deal with threatening landlords, who often resort to scare tactics to evict tenants.
"I'm here to let [the tenants] know that Chinatown is standing with them" Gee said. "These landlords are so shady, I've heard stories where they have intentionally neglected apartments to let the building deteriorate, and then calling the housing department to demolish the building."
Wasim Lone, of Good Old Lower East Side, said he's been trying to contact the landlord on behalf of the tenants to negotiate, but they've been refusing to take phone calls.
"The landlord's request is quite outrageous, considering he's trying to kick out 17 families out of the houses in just two months," said Lone, adding that he is trying to get the City Council involved to speak to the landlord.
But the plot thickens.
A few phone calls and a Google search revealed that the landlord trying to kick these residents out is none other than Abe Haruvi, a man who reportedly owns up to 40 buildings throughout the city and has been accused several times of resorting to shenanigans to evict tenants.
In fact, The Voicewrote about Haruvi 12 years ago, unveiling how he told the same embellished sob story, to several different judges, to kick out multiple tenants.
Mr Garcia, who lives down the block from the three apartment complexes, had this to say: "How much longer are we going to let a man like that, who's had a history of cheating the system to unfairly evict tenants, get away with this?"