Monday, February 11, 2013

CASA-New Settlement Victory for Tenants in Bronx

New York Times:

Tenants and Community Group Save Dilapidated Bronx Complex

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
Dominga Sanchez had no hot water for days at a time in her apartment.


Published: February 10, 2013
Minarda Pimentel had to keep her clothes in sealed plastic bags because rats gnawed on everything in her closet.

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
After a tenants' campaign against the landlord, the three-building complex was recently bought by a community group.
Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
The community group has already started to make repairs.
Her neighbor Dominga Sanchez had   to boil water on the stove for showers   because there    was no hot water — or   heat for that matter — for days at a   time. Ms. Sanchez’s oldest daughter moved   out because the mold on the   walls made her sick.
  Their hardship stories are common enough in the low-rent   neighborhoods of the Bronx, where dilapidated buildings are   often passed from one neglectful landlord to the next.    the   tenants of this decrepit apartment complex on College   Avenue, many of whom speak little English, finally decided   that they had enough.
  Behind their creaky, peeling doors, they embarked on a   yearlong campaign against their landlord that attracted the   attention of influential supporters and eventually led to a   change in ownership.
The complex, which has 63 apartments in three 1920s   buildings, was acquired last month by a group of   community-  minded organizations led by the Banana Kelly   Community Improvement Association, a nonprofit developer of   moderate-cost housing in the South Bronx, which assumed the   mortgage on the complex and is committed to spending an   additional $3.5 million for renovations.
  Even before the closing papers were signed, change was   afoot: The new owners sent a mechanic and a truck carrying   1,500 gallons of heating oil to restart the boilers.
“It feels like winning the Mega Millions,” Ms. Sanchez, 48, said in Spanish, referring to a multistate lottery. “Since the new owners came, the heat hasn’t stopped and they’re coming to fix everything.