Sunset Park Rent Strikers to Stage Sleep-In

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.

Article Tabs

Dozens of ranchers, farmers and Native Americans calling themselves the Cowboy and Indian Alliance rode into D.C. on horseback to set up camp in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.

A new report shows that top C.E.O.'s were paid 331 times more than the average U.S. worker in 2013, and the poorest fifth of Americans paid twice the average tax rate as the richest 1%.

Jeremy Rifkin's new book, "The Zero Marginal Cost Society," brings welcome attention to the Commons – which lies at the heart of a major cultural and social shift now underway.

Unrestrained data collection by private companies and the government is threatening the very nature of how the Internet – and, likewise, the companies that populate it – was intended to run.

Naveed Shinwari hasn’t seen his wife in 26 months. He suspects it’s because he refused to become an informant for the FBI.

Revolts are shaking the world, bursting in the most unexpected places, but they rarely take power. Is the big explosion still coming?

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

The Vermont Senate passed a bill to require labeling on all GMO foods sold in the state – signaling a wave of nationwide victories against the Gene Giants may be underway.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

A new Cold War has arisen between Russia and the U.S. over the future of Ukraine.

Posted 3 days 7 hours ago

From climate change to Crimea, the natural gas industry is supreme at exploiting crisis for private gain.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

A right-wing Canadian outfit funded by the Kochs wants to privatize the Canadian health care system – and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is now steering policy that way.

Posted 6 days 9 hours ago
Government Uses the Same Argument to Justify the Targeted Killing of Americans and Indefinite Detention

On Tuesday, Michael Isikoff of NBC News published a 16-page white paper that outlines the government's secret justification for the extrajudicial killing of an American believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization.
 

the pirate bay

The CAS, backed by Time Warner, Verizon, Comcast, AT&T - and the U.S. government - will disrupt Internet access for copyright violators.

Unnecessary Austerity, Unnecessary Shutdown

Reversing tax giveaways to the super-rich and the nation's largest corporations could raise $4 trillion within a decade and avert possible government closures.

Renditions Continue Under Obama

The Obama administration has embraced rendition despite widespread condemnation of the tactic.

In an age of hidden election cash, the nation’s wealthiest public companies are increasingly revealing their campaign-related contributions and political policies — and doing so voluntarily.

Sign Up