Brooklyn Residents Accuse Their Sunset Park Landlord of Trying To Kick Them Out To Cash In on Gentrifiers

Friday, July 29, 2016
Patricja Okuniewska and Leonard Greene
New York Daily News

No mas acoso.

That's the message from an 11-year-old girl and her Brooklyn neighbors who accused their Sunset Park landlord of trying to force them out to make room for higher-paying tenants.

"The landlord also insults and screams at my mom since she and my dad report to 311 that there is no heat and hot water in the winter," said Samantha Bravo, a tenant at 430 61st St., who demonstrated outside the building with her parents and neighbors.

Samantha said the conditions have given her little brother pneumonia and aggravated her asthma, making it difficult for her to breathe.

"The landlord also told my mom that if she keeps making 311 reports, she should just go to Manhattan to live."

Samantha and other tenants held signs that said "No Mas Acoso" — no more harassment — "gentrification=social genocide" and "our investment is our home."

Lawyers representing the tenants said they would file a discrimination complaint with the city's Commission on Human Rights.

"These tenants are hardworking immigrants," said Rini Fonseca, an attorney with the Urban Justice Center. "They have a right to live in peace and tranquility in their homes. They have a right to live without harassment each day."

Marcela Mitaynes, a tenant advocate, said the abuse is a result of neighborhood gentrification and the pressure from rising property values to displace longtime tenants.

"Gentrification is causing an incentive for these landlords to try to convert these affordable units into market rate apartments," Mitaynes said.

Residents also said the landlord has threatened to call immigration services and the police when tenants try to organize.

"The people that bought this building, they're carpetbaggers," said Dan Wiley, a community coordinator for U.S. Rep. Nydia Velasquez. "How dare someone who buys this building make people who have lived here most of their lives feel that they are not welcome and that this is not their home.”

The building's owner, Soo Song Dung, said the tenants are making up their claims.

"The people are liars," she said.

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