Friday, January 30, 2009

Something urgent from CAAAV

The Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence

We Need YOUR Help to Send Out 100 Letters in 100 Hours!

Dear friends and supporters,

Many of you have been supporting the residents of 81 Bowery, who were evicted by the City's Department of Buildings on November 13, 2008 for safety violations the landlord failed to correct. Since then, four more buildings in Chinatown have been vacated leaving more than 100 residents homeless.

In these harsh economic times and cold weather, the City should not be forcing people out of their long-time homes. There are other alternatives the City can adopt that will require landlords to fix the violations while at the same time ensuring that residents can remain in their homes safely.

The Department of Buildings has not agreed to a meeting with the displaced tenants and CAAAV. We need YOUR support to hold DOB Commissioner LiMandri accountable by meeting with us. No longer should they be allowed to hide behind closed doors and bureaucracy.

We hope you support the Alternatives to Mass Evictions (AME) Campaign.
Our demands are simple:

1) For the displaced tenants to be able to return home immediately

2) In the future, for DOB to put in place a policy of having landlords correct violations instead of evicting whole buildings in the name of safety, leaving people homeless.

Here is how you can support:

Send a letter to DOB. We are doing a push to send 100 letters to DOB in 100 hours via fax and email beginning 9am on February 2nd until 1pm on February 6th. The more the merrier! We appreciate letters sent on organizational letterhead and as individuals. Below and attached is a sample letter. Please cc Helena once this is done so we can keep track!

Come out with your members to actions. We will be doing actions at DOB and in Chinatown in the coming months. If you are interested, let Helena know.

Spread the word! We cannot allow this to happen to anyone else. And we need all the support you can give in order for DOB to change their practices. As this campaign goes on, there will be periodic updates, and we hope you will talk to others about this campaign and all other efforts to fight gentrification and displacement in New York City!

For more information, contact Helena Wong at or (212) 473-6485.


FAX to: (212) 566-3785
Email to:
Subject: Housing Justice for Chinatown Tenants

February ___, 2009

Robert LiMandri
Department of Buildings
280 Broadway, 7th floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Commissioner LiMandri:

I am writing in support of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities and the approximately 100 long-term Chinatown residents – from 81 Bowery, 32 Market Street, 15 Catherine Street, and 103 East Broadway (a FDNY vacate that was assisted by DOB) – who are left homeless because of vacate orders issued by your agency between November 13 and December 16, 2008.

In all four buildings the issue was secondary egress, which is a hazardous violation that should be corrected by their landlords immediately. I do not question that secondary egress is a fire hazard and that your agency has an obligation to ensure all tenants' safety. However, there is a more viable policy the Department of Buildings can and should adopt to address safety violations that do not lead to forcing people out of their homes during the coldest months of the year with no notice whatsoever. For example, the DOB can require that landlords hire fire guards at their own cost while they correct the violations. These vacate orders penalize residents who are paying rent, when the DOB ought to hold the landlords responsible for not complying with the law. The landlords allowed these violations to exist for years, putting tenants' lives in danger. The DOB should work to ensure that tenant safety issues are addressed in ways that protect tenants and ensure they live in safe and habitable homes. By issuing vacate orders that penalize the tenants, the DOB is in fact condoning these landlords to continue to violate the laws of the City.

It is in times of economic crisis that the DOB should take even more care to ensure that no one is forced out of their homes, yet current cuts to social services essentially guarantee that residents' need for these services will exceed what can be provided, adding more strain on scarce and valuable resources.

I urge that you meet with CAAAV to discuss the following:

1) The DOB allow all residents from 81 Bowery, 15 Catherine Street, and 32 Market Street to return to their homes immediately.

2) The DOB require the landlord to hire fire guards at all buildings until the landlord has corrected the violations.

3) The DOB should not approve any new Certificate of Occupancy applications for these three buildings that do not allow for current residents to return to their homes.

4) The DOB puts into place a policy that allows for landlords to fix violations at the landlord's expense, rather than issuing vacate orders that penalize tenants and make them homeless.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


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