[I recall a young (pregnant) tenant and her partner destroying their apartment in our co-op for which they could no longer pay when we were converted from a rental building — along the lines described by the tenants being evicted from the massive complex immediately north of Columbia’s proposed new campus in Manhattanville (lower West Harlem).

It cannot be repeated often enough that gentrification afflicts all surrounding holdings and 3333 Broadway with its 1190 now vulnerable apartment units is but the tip of this grim iceberg — crashing into one of the few remaining affordable housing and small business areas in Manhattan.  I have heard that some moving in to replace the evicted are Columbia affiliated?

As one who studied property theory and the effects of planning programs on people for my Columbia Ph.D. thesis, I cannot stress enough that property consists of the rights and powers that one possesses — which are correlated with others’ duties and liabilities.  Columbia’s move to grab Manhattanville cannot be isolated from the damage that it is doing ALREADY to those who live and work there and in the vicinity.  We have seen the effects of gentrification in Morningside Heights while we have lived here since our student days — they are brutal and heart breaking for far too many!  Ed Kent]



Evicted 3333 Tenants Accused of Vandalism
By Kevin Shin
Issue date: 3/2/07 Section: News

In a spate of recent evictions at 3333 Broadway, evicted tenants have been accused of vandalizing their old apartments, and several evicted tenants have alleged that their belongings were taken away without their knowledge by city marshals.

The alleged vandalism has been going on for the past month, with the tenants being accused of smashing windows and tearing up carpets in the high rise apartment complex between 133rd and 135th Streets.

Although the incidents were isolated cases, many tenants now suspect that undercover police officers actively stake out the departures of newly evicted tenants is sticking.

“This is reading between the lines, but I see these big guys in the middle of the night, lurking around in the floor where a tenant just got evicted,” said Howard Garrett, a member of The New Concerned Tenants Union Association at 3333. “A lot of us think they’re undercover cops waiting to hear the tenant break their windows or his walls on their way out.”

“They’ve [NYPD] done it before outside the building to catch kids selling drugs,” he said.

A representative from the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information’s office declined to confirm or deny undercover operations in the apartment complex, explaining that commenting on any undercover operation would risk compromising it.

These cases of vandalism come on the heels of an especially aggressive year of evictions in the face of rising rents in Manhattanville and the city at large. The landlord’s withdrawal from the New York State Mitchell-Lama rent subsidy housing program in 2005 led to evictions for many who, without the program’s support, were unable to meet their rents. Many two-bedroom apartments in the building now rent for $1780 per month.

The Mitchell-Lama program provides low-interest mortgage loans and real-estate property tax exemptions to landlords who agree to provide affordable housing to low-income tenants. Landlords are allowed to opt out of the program after 20 years of the first mortgage payment.

Although no precise statistics are available, and the management office did not return repeated phone calls, eviction notices in the 1,190 unit complex can be found on dozens of doors on any given day.

Along with the upsurge in the number of evictions, the tactics that 3333’s landlord, Jerome Belson, have grown unfairly aggressive, according to many tenants.

Leroy Mabel, another 3333 tenant and copy clerk at the Bank of New York, said he saw an elderly neighbor forced out of her home by city marshals a few weeks ago.

“I was leaving for work when I saw two or three guys moving all of her stuff out of her apartment,” Mabel said. “When I got back, I found out she had been at work while this was going on and came home to an empty place.”

Chauncey Brown said he had also witnessed the same tactic used on one of his neighbors just two weeks ago.

“The marshals just come in, pick up their stuff and throw it in a box,” Brown said. “This woman who used to live next to me came back from work and found all of her stuff gone. She had a grandkid who had asthma, but couldn’t find his medication, his paperwork, nothing, because they had taken it all away.”

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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