If construction noise, dust, and the occasional backhoe accident are getting out of control in your apartment building, you might want to head to a forum tonight to bone up on who to call and kvetch to.
The Cooper Square Committee, an East Village tenant rights and advocacy organization, was spurred to host the workshop because of increasing complaints from tenants regarding the impact of construction in their apartment buildings.
The event will educate renters about their rights when one or multiple units in their building is being renovated, and show them how to deal with their landlord, contact contractors and other people involved with construction, and complain to the appropriate city agencies (as if East Villagers need to be taught how to complain).
Steve Herrick, Cooper Square’s executive director, says his organization began shifting its focus to tenant quality of life issues last fall, and has hired an additional staff person to help organize tenants. It’s also starting a “real time enforcement” committee to work with the city’s Department of Buildings to prioritize inspections and target enforcement.
“There’s so much incentive to vacate the units,” Herrick said. “Some tenants are living in buildings where the owner is renovating vacant units and creating such disruption for the rest of the building that living conditions are getting really unpleasant.”
This week, both Gothamist and the Times pointed to increased landlord harassment in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods: a Greenpoint woman who had complained about construction in her building lost access to her bathroom after it began to sag, and tenants of a Bushwick building saw their kitchens and bathrooms become “a gutted mess of exposed beams and debris.”
Cooper Square has heard similar reports about collapsed ceilings, no cooking gas, and no heating during the winter because boilers have been taken out but not quickly replaced. “There’s so many things that are a threat to the healthy and safety of the tenants,” Herrick said.
Tonight’s meeting on the fourth floor of 59-61 East Fourth Street goes from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.