Read

Search form

Sunset Park Rent Strikers to Stage Sleep-In

Sunset Park Rent Strikers to Stage Sleep-In
Wed, 7/18/2012
This article originally appeared on Occupied Wall Street Journal

Photo: Sunset Parkerpix 

On what may be one of the hottest nights of the year, dozens of rent strikers and their families, members of Occupy Sunset Park and supporters will gather for a vigil at 6 p.m. tomorrow in front of 553-46th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to protest the inhumane, unsafe, illegal and deplorable living conditions in the three adjacent buildings owned by one of the city’s worst landlords. The group will then hold a sleep-in on the sidewalk starting at 9 p.m. in front of their sweltering, decrepit buildings, in which the electricity sputters out every 15 minutes.

The following morning, tenants will conduct a people’s inspection of the buildings. Residents have been told by the the Department of Housing and Preservation Deputy Commissioner Vito Mustaciuolo that their landlord, Orazio Petito of Peto Management, has until Thursday to start critical electrical repairs.

For years residents at three adjacent buildings in Sunset Park have been living in fear of fires and electrical blackouts. “No one sleeps much in these three buildings,” Laura Gottesdiener reported on Waging Nonviolence. “In the winter there’s no heat, in the summer there’s no electricity, and all year there are rats and cockroaches scurrying in the walls.” Despite numerous complaints made to city agencies and politicians’ offices, documented housing violations — including unsafe electrical wiring, a broken boiler and disease-triggering agents like mold, vermin and bed bugs — continue to threaten the lives of dozens of residents.

These three buildings are in danger of fire. We could die!” the banner reads“I’m living in a nightmare,” Sara Lopez, 64, who lives at 553 46th Street, told the Daily News, adding that she saw sparks shooting out of the fuse box last week. “This building is about to catch fire,” she said.

While many of these violations have persisted for years, the situation became more dire in recent months as the buildings underwent foreclosure. Petito has refused to complete necessary repairs and continues to insist that tenants pay their rent. In the meantime, a cheap plastic fan is being used to keep the basement’s electrical box — which looks like a middle-school science fair project gone horribly wrong — from overheating and catching fire.

In apartments that include a pregnant woman with two children, disabled tenants and individuals with chronic conditions, residents went without heat and hot water during the winter months. Today they face the threat of more blackouts and fear an electrical fire if they use much-needed air conditioning during this season of record-breaking heat. For many residents, waiting weeks for a court order poses an intolerable risk to their lives.

“Do we have to wait for a tragedy before we see action?” Lopez said.

On July 5, the affected tenants and various community members and allies, including members of Occupy Sunset Park and Occupy Wall Street, held a rally to stress the urgency of the repairs. The rally was immediately followed by a march to New York State assemblyman Felix Ortiz’s office. Ortiz was elected by Sunset Park residents and personally promised Sara and other tenants that he would work to resolve their unsafe housing dilemma. After weeks of no action, the tenants occupied his office and demanded a meeting last Monday. An inspection was promised, but repairs have yet to be made.

Tenants have made it clear that if their demands for immediate repairs are not made, they will consider taking matters into their own hands, utilizing the support from groups like Take Back the Land and Occupy Wall Street to take on the emergency repairs. Such a step would mark the first such tenant mobilization effort in Brooklyn in recent memory.

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Standing Rock Sioux protests, Dakota Access Pipeline, police brutality, police violence, fossil fuel protests, Big Oil, Diggers, attack dogs

Some of the faces and voices from Standing Rock, in their own words.

U.K. surveillance legislation, Investigatory Powers Bill, Snoopers Charter, U.K. terrorism surveillance, U.K. surveillance programs, internet surveillance, cell phone surveillance, metadata

The Investigatory Powers Bill – or “Snoopers Charter” – is now enshrined in U.K. law, forcing internet and mobile phone companies to keep a record of all citizens’ browsing and phone use, even if they aren't suspected of terrorism.

Big Oil, Big Finance, economic transformation, climate collapse, economic alternatives, fossil fuel free, fossil fuel divestment, copyright laws, infrastructure investment, worker-owned cooperatives, jail the bankers, too big to fail

Moving society away from carbon dependence is not just about becoming good consumers, but engaged citizens.

money in politics, Don McGahn, campaign finance laws, FEC, campaign finance regulation, Citizens United, money as speech

Don McGahn, soon to be Donald Trump’s White House counsel, bears as much responsibility as any single person for turning America’s campaign finance system into something akin to a gigantic, clogged septic tank.

This week, the ice is melting, sea levels are rising and science denying psychopaths are steering the canoe.

Somali-Americans, Somali businesses, Abdul Razak Artan, Ohio State attacks, Somali activism

The Somali-American community was bashed last week after Abdul Razak Artan, a member of Ohio's large and growing Somali community, took part in a car-ramming attack and massive stabbing at the school that left 13 injured.

Posted 5 days 32 min ago
Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock, Alex Garland, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests

Here are some of the faces from Standing Rock, in their own words.

Posted 5 days 18 min ago

This week, the ice is melting, sea levels are rising and science denying psychopaths are steering the canoe.

Posted 3 days 22 hours ago
Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests, DAPL

"We thank the tribal youth who initiated this movement. We thank the millions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause. We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us."

Posted 5 days 19 hours ago
Big Oil, Big Finance, economic transformation, climate collapse, economic alternatives, fossil fuel free, fossil fuel divestment, copyright laws, infrastructure investment, worker-owned cooperatives, jail the bankers, too big to fail

Moving society away from carbon dependence is not just about becoming good consumers, but engaged citizens.

Posted 2 days 17 hours ago
Standing Rock Sioux protests, Dakota Access Pipeline, police brutality, police violence, fossil fuel protests, Big Oil, Diggers, attack dogs

Some of the faces and voices from Standing Rock, in their own words.

This week, the ice is melting, sea levels are rising and science denying psychopaths are steering the canoe.

U.K. surveillance legislation, Investigatory Powers Bill, Snoopers Charter, U.K. terrorism surveillance, U.K. surveillance programs, internet surveillance, cell phone surveillance, metadata

The Investigatory Powers Bill – or “Snoopers Charter” – is now enshrined in U.K. law, forcing internet and mobile phone companies to keep a record of all citizens’ browsing and phone use, even if they aren't suspected of terrorism.

money in politics, Don McGahn, campaign finance laws, FEC, campaign finance regulation, Citizens United, money as speech

Don McGahn, soon to be Donald Trump’s White House counsel, bears as much responsibility as any single person for turning America’s campaign finance system into something akin to a gigantic, clogged septic tank.

Matteo Renzi, 5 Star Movement, Italian populists, anti-EU vote

Matteo Renzi resigned Sunday night after suffering a crushing defeat in a referendum on constitutional reform – signaling a fresh populist blow for the E.U.