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

When the NAFTA nations meet Wednesday for the annual Three Amigos Summit in Ottawa, climate change and clean energy goals may be overshadowed by TransCanada's use of NAFTA to sue the U.S. government over the Keystone pipeline.

Act Out, spoken word, poetry, art, creative activism, This War Of Mine, video games, single shooter games, war games, 11 Bit Studios, combat games, native advertising, native ads, paid posts, sponsored content, fake news, news ads, media manipulation

This week, a special look at the video game — yes video game — to take you inside what it's really like to live in war.

No Confidence Vote, Wisconsin teachers movement, tenure changes, hire and fire policies, education privatization, corporatization of education, Scott Walker, University of Wisconsin System, no-confidence votes

Just as Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 dismantled the security and stability of union protection in K-12 education, recent tenure changes threaten a fair hiring and firing process in the University of Wisconsin System.

Podemos, Spanish elections, Spanish populism, Pablo Iglesias, Spain austerity policies

Spain was plunged into the political unknown on Sunday night as no single party emerged as the winner in its closest general election since the end of the Franco dictatorship 40 years ago.

Bernie Sanders, grassroots candidates Bernie candidates, Sanders supporters, political revolution

From deep blue California and New York to deep red Utah and Nebraska, Bernie supporters are answering his call by running for local office.

Abby Martin, Monsanto, World Health Organization, carcinogens

Few corporations in the world are as loathed – and as sinister – as Monsanto, but the threat posed to people and planet could be reaching new heights.

Posted 6 days 2 hours ago
Brexit, E.U. Referendum, UKIP, British austerity policies

Scotland was told in 2014 that a vote for British unity was the only way to stay in the E.U. Now, the opposite is true, and along with Northern Ireland's growing call for independence, the fragmentation of the U.K. appears to have begun.

Posted 2 days 2 hours ago
gun violence, gun lobby, mass killings, National Rifle Association

Powerful almost by default, and handled with a clear mission at hand and an eye for empathy, "91%" is a call to activist arms.

Posted 5 days 1 hour ago
No Confidence Vote, Wisconsin teachers movement, tenure changes, hire and fire policies, education privatization, corporatization of education, Scott Walker, University of Wisconsin System, no-confidence votes

Just as Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 dismantled the security and stability of union protection in K-12 education, recent tenure changes threaten a fair hiring and firing process in the University of Wisconsin System.

Posted 1 day 4 hours ago
tax avoidance, corporate tax evasion, corporate taxes, job creation

While candidates bicker and Congress stagnates and the rest of us dwell on the latest shooting tragedy, the super-rich enjoy the absence of attention paid to one of our nation’s most destructive issues: tax avoidance.

Posted 5 days 1 hour ago
Brexit, E.U. Referendum, UKIP, British austerity policies

Scotland was told in 2014 that a vote for British unity was the only way to stay in the E.U. Now, the opposite is true, and along with Northern Ireland's growing call for independence, the fragmentation of the U.K. appears to have begun.

tax avoidance, corporate tax evasion, corporate taxes, job creation

While candidates bicker and Congress stagnates and the rest of us dwell on the latest shooting tragedy, the super-rich enjoy the absence of attention paid to one of our nation’s most destructive issues: tax avoidance.

No Confidence Vote, Wisconsin teachers movement, tenure changes, hire and fire policies, education privatization, corporatization of education, Scott Walker, University of Wisconsin System, no-confidence votes

Just as Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 dismantled the security and stability of union protection in K-12 education, recent tenure changes threaten a fair hiring and firing process in the University of Wisconsin System.

Bernie Sanders, grassroots candidates Bernie candidates, Sanders supporters, political revolution

From deep blue California and New York to deep red Utah and Nebraska, Bernie supporters are answering his call by running for local office.

Oaxaca teacher strikes, Educational Reform, National Coordinator of Education Workers, National Union of Education Workers, Enrique Peña Nieto, student deaths, student disappearances, Nochixtlán blockade, Nochixtlán violence, Popular Assembly of the Peopl

Teachers in southern Mexico are back on the barricades, and once again the state has responded with brute force.