NY1: Astoria Tenants Facing Eviction File Lawsuit Against NonProfit
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017

NY1 covered Legal Aid’s press conference in Astoria on Friday announcing a lawsuit to fight eviction for 13 tenants of the New York School of Urban Ministry’s dormitory residence.




NY1
Astoria Tenants Facing Eviction File Lawsuit Against NonProfit
By Clodagh McGowan
February 17, 2017

The Legal Aid Society is filing a lawsuit on behalf of 13 residents who received eviction notices to leave their homes at the New York School of Urban Ministry. NY1's Clodagh McGowan filed this report.

Linda Smith says she's been frustrated since November 17th. That's when she and 38 other residents received eviction notices to leave their homes at the New York School of Urban Ministry - a low income dormitory run by a Christian not-for-profit in Astoria.

"It's been hanging over our heads that we need to get out, we're not welcome here," Smith said." "We were numb. We didn't know what to...it took many of us three or four days to really compute as to what had happened."

Now, the Legal Aid Society is filing a lawsuit on behalf of Smith and 12 other residents. In the complaint, the tenants claim their apartments are protected by the Rent Stabilization Law. It allows each resident renewable leases.

"Because the building is otherwise rent stabilized, these tenants should be protected by that law," Sateesh Nori, Attorney of The Legal Aid Society Queens Neighborhood Office said.

Some residents told us off camera they've experienced harassment from building staff since receiving their eviction letters. In the middle of the press conference, a maintenance worker sprayed a hose near the group.

"My biggest concern are the residents who spent years as part of the fabric of this neighborhood," State Senator Michael Gianaris said.

We were unable to reach the attorney representing NYSUM by phone, but he last told NY1 the school was losing money each month operating the building under its current agreements.

Residents say the non-profit planned to convert the dormitory into a homeless shelter. But a Department of Homeless Services spokesperson says the agency has had absolutely no plans to use this building for months. In addition, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter to NYSUM repealing the eviction notices until rent stabilization can be established.

It's a temporary victory for Smith and her neighbors who hope to continue calling the dormitory home.