Last week, the tenants of 1058 Southern Blvd gathered for a protest in front of the Bronx Housing Court. Check out this video in which tenants demand that the housing court respect their rights!
Tag Archives: organizing
This post was written by Danielle Siegel, our new AVODAH. Stay tuned for most posts from her for the coming year!
Today is a testament that there are many manifestations of home.
I am a native Californian. I moved to New York City three weeks ago. I began working with UHAB six days ago. And today is my first day being in New York City on 9/11.
UHAB is located within three blocks of the Wall Street subway stop. As you exit the train, a boldfaced sign reads, “9/11 Memorial.” Today, as I disembarked from the train, that sign ignited my memory. I recalled my whereabouts eleven years ago.
I was elevens years old, and woke up to the shrill of my parents as they attentively watched the morning news. We sat before the television in disbelief, unwilling to accept that the unimaginable had occurred. My memory also illustrated my school as a space of silence—as usual, students occupied the hallways, cafeteria, and locker rooms that day, but they all operated in silence. Even three thousand miles away from the collapsed towers, the tragedy was palpable.
But nothing is like being in New York on 9/11. Walking to my office, I imagined Wall Street on that day. I pictured thousands of people running down the street, paralyzed with trepidation and grief. I pictured debris and ashes dancing through the street. And, like my school, I pictured silence, but one that demands stillness.
And today, as I proceed down Wall Street, I feel that silence and stillness among the taxis, street vendors, and business folk. Taxi drivers seem more patient. Street vendors seem more engaging. Business folk seem more considerate. By no means has New York stopped or lost its essence today, but there is a pause in the air– an acknowledgment of 9/11’s tragedy and appreciation for the witnesses that continue to utter its memory.
Today, New York feels more like a community, standing in solidarity not only as survivors of the physical violence of the attacks, but the trauma that subsequently followed. Undoubtedly, that solidarity springs from a common narrative. The uniqueness of being in New York on 9/11 speaks to the threatening of a collective space that we call home. To New Yorkers, the concrete space where the Twin Towers once stood is home; these are the spaces that we spend the majority of our days, indulging in meals, formulating new relationships, enhancing our minds. To threaten our home is to threaten our livelihood. And that, in part, is why we feel the emotional intensity of 9/11.
The solidarity brought about by 9/11 works in conversation with the work I am now engaging with at UHAB—supporting tenants’ right to affordable and quality housing. As I glance into the coming year, I recognize the importance of a space that we each call home—one that connects us to ourselves and constructs the fabric of our daily lives. Without access to these spaces, our foundations and emotional stability suffer. However, this is where tenants, like New Yorkers that have lived through 9/11, inspire me– regardless of the injustices they have encountered, they are still willing to wage the battle and continue fighting. As I begin to witness the perseverance of tenants, I feel honored to engage in the battle for stabilized housing.
As the workday comes to a close and our experiences of 9/11 fall back into the backdrop of our minds, I encourage y’all to acknowledge the many manifestations of home as well as the importance of honoring and preserving those spaces.
This post is in honor of the victims and survivors of 9/11.
We’re back in the office after a restful three day weekend. Labor Day is now celebrated as an unofficial end of summer, but in reality it is much more than that. Celebrated on the first Monday of September, Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic well-being of the American worker. It is a product of the labor movement and constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. (http://www.dol.gov)
Labor Day is particularly poignant this year as certain members of the Republican Party continue to chip away at collective bargaining rights. And Eric Cantor has demonstrated a real misunderstanding of what this holiday is about, tweeting that we honor the hard work of business owners.
Labor Day is obviously not about business owners or upper management. First celebrated in New York City by the Central Labor Union, it is about the power of workers to join together and demand better working conditions FROM business owners and upper management. It is about the struggle against the power structure that thinks only in terms of maximizing profit.
As tenant organizers, we focus on a specific issue: affordable housing at risk. We are not labor organizers. But the central tenet is the same: we are more powerful when we join together. We are more powerful than whoever is oppressing when we join together.
This is one of my favorite songs/poems. It’s a beautiful tribute to early women organizers. Take a listen!
According to New York 1 Mayor Bloomberg is blaming rising populations in NYC homeless shelters on “out-of-town homeless” seeking shelter in NYC. According to the Daily News out-of-town families in shelters have increased by 48% since 2008. Besides the immediate question of why we should only care about homeless families who are from New York City, the issues of increasing homelessness and lack of shelter space raises serious concerns about city housing policies around homelessness.
Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless, disagreed with the mayor. In his words:
“The real problem is we have record and rising homelessness in New York City,” Markee said. “The real problem is we have high rents and low wages. And the real problem is that the mayor’s policies are not working.”
We have seen, through our work, tenants being displaced by predatory equity and foreclosure. If this occurs, tenants often have no where to go except for the shelters. This crisis was intensified when the city moved to cut the Advantage program which had the specific goal of assisting homeless families. The Advantage program was created to temporarily help families pay rent so they could move out of the shelter and into an apartment. Unfortunately, the program was cut earlier this year even though there were 15,000 families who were enrolled in the program at the time. Since other rental assistance programs like Section 8 and the Family Eviction Prevention Supplement (FEPS) are either too full or have stricter restrictions on who can qualify, many people who lost the Advantage subsidy have no other recourse for rental assistance.
Whatever the reasons are for raising homelessness and lack of space in shelters, we all need to revisit programmatic solutions to help families both in shelters and those who are at risk of losing their homes.
Watch the video and read the full NY1 article here.
On Monday, I will be joining an impressive group of housing experts to discuss current housing issues and possible solutions for holding bad landlords accountable. This forum was inspired by the recent City Limits issue,”The Phantom Landlord” (a must read if you haven’t already) which focused on one landlord Frank Palazzolo and his inexplicable ability to remain untouched despite his involvement in many, many properties where bad conditions have been disastrous and even deadly for the residents. This forum will talk about possible legislation and strategies for holding landlords like this accountable.
The discussion will be held on Monday, April 23rd at the Scala Auditorium on the first floor of the Leo Engineering Building, 3825 Corlear Avenue (a block west of Broadway, between E. 238th and E. 240th streets). Please join if you can it should be a very interesting discussion!
For more information on who the panelists are and what will be discussed check out Bronx Matters!