Amid talk of a potential rezoning of Bushwick, the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development along with Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso of District 34 and Rafael Espinal of District 37 hosted a tenant resource fair in Bushwick Tuesday night.
The event boasted an array of legal tools and associations aimed at helping tenants fight back against landlords using illegal methods to evict them or force them to move out.
In the last decade, as rents soared in the area, lifelong residents have been forced to move out. Reynoso said that the black and brown population in the area used to be 68 percent. It now stands, he says, at 48 percent.”
“Once the rezoning occurred in Williamsburg, in two to three years it started seeping into Bushwick,” said Boris Santos, a Reynoso staffer. The councilman playfully told the residents “there would never be a wall in Bushwick.”
Despite the drastic changes afoot, the overall tone of the fair was that there are tools for tenants who want to hang on.
Andrew Lehrer, Managing Attorney of the Catholic Migration Services, referred to the councilmembers as being “genuine.” He mentioned that the councilmen gave money where it was needed to help as they could.
Representatives of the Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A urged residents to never take a buy-out from a landlord trying to get them to leave. Lina Lee of the Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A encouraged residents to seek help if they face this problem with their landlords rather than leaving and moving away.
Both the Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Legal Services also urged that undocumented immigrants not be afraid to seek help from those organizations. The promise was that they will not turn you away.
“There is power in groups taking landlords to court,” Lee said. She encouraged the attending residents to pass the message along to anyone they may know and to work collectively.