For Immediate Release – August 28, 2014
Contact: Alvaro Franco, (646) 542-9538
Bronx tenants in Kingsbridge Heights meet to organize against rent hikes and gentrification
Bronx, New York - On Thursday night, August 14, members of a newly formed tenants association held a second meeting with support from the People Power Movement-Movimiento Poder Popular (PPM-MPP) to discuss their strategy to fight a proposed rent increase at 2800 University Avenue that would attack the building’s working-class residents. The landlord’s application for a Major Capital Improvement (MCI) rent increase attempts to justify a permanent rent hike on the basis of repairs, but many doubt the repairs will benefit the entire building.
At Thursday’s meeting, Maria Maldonado, president of the tenant association and longtime resident of 2800 University Avenue, and Jay Espy, a PPM-MPP organizer who grew up in the building, facilitated the discussion among 20 tenants in attendance. During the meeting, tenants raised concerns about much-needed repairs and safety violations that the landlord has failed to address in the building. They also strategized with organizers about taking collective actions to stop the unfair MCI rent increase.
“We can’t trust the Democrats, and we can’t trust the Republicans. The only people we can trust is ourselves,” said Espy, explaining that neither Democratic nor Republican mayors have prevented rent hikes that harm so many poor and working class New Yorkers. He placed the MCI rent increase in his building within the context of city-wide gentrification, a process that displaces working-class people of color from their communities.
Additionally, Espy blamed the redevelopment of the nearby Kingsbridge Armory into the world’s largest ice skating rink, a project that has already enticed landlords in the area to raise rent for small business owners and tenants on Kingsbridge Road. As a result, Espy encouraged the tenants to unify and organize themselves to take collective action instead of relying on politicians and landlords who do not share their interests.
Espinosa’s words resonated with the other tenants at the meeting. Sharon Cooper, vice president of the tenant association and also a long-time resident in 1978, captured the mood of the evening: “My grandmother always said: ‘united we stand, divided we fall.”
The People Power Movement-Movimiento Poder Popular is a democratic people’s organization dedicated to educating, agitating, and organizing for Popular Control of our schools, workplaces, housing, transportation, policing, levels of government, and all areas that affect our lives, to achieve Fundamental Social Change. PPM-MPP identifies with the interests and aspirations of poor and working people and considers the anti-racist struggle central in our efforts to obtain a humane society. PPM-MPP is currently involved in tenant organizing, as well as organizing students in New York City public schools and colleges. For more information on PPM-MPP, go to https://www.facebook.com/2011PeoplePower or http://peoplepowermovement.tumblr.com/
Also read about us on the Riverdale Press: Kingsbridge Ice Center said to cause rent hikes