On June 4, 2012, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) announced the Justice for 128 Hester Campaign.  Nearly three years ago, eight families living at 128 Hester Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown were forced from their homes due to the intentional neglect of William H. Su, the building’s owner. Over two years ago, the New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal ordered Su to pay the residents’ relocation expenses but he has failed to comply.  Now AAFE and local elected officials are demanding justice for the tenants.

Within a matter of weeks, Su plans to open the Wyndham Garden Hotel, next door to 128 Hester.  The Department of Buildings found that the construction of the 18-story tower was a factor in the destabilization of 128 Hester.  AAFE has launched a petition drive, demanding that William Su:

  • Rebuild 128 Hester Street and restore all rent-regulated tenants into their respective units; or
  • Provide permanent relocation units for the families within the neighborhood; and
  • Provide just and fair compensation for their housing loss and relocation cost.

Tenants, City Council member Margaret Chin and a representative of State Senator Daniel Squadron attended a news conference announcing the new campaign.

“It has been over two years since the original decision and William Su has refused to even show up to the conferences to settle with the tenants of 128 Hester Street.  Today, we demand justice for the tenants displaced by Wyndham’s new hotel,” said Christopher Kui, Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality.  “As the operator of the hotel, we hold Wyndham Worldwide equally accountable for the lack of action of William Su to provide just and fair compensation to the tenants of 128 Hester Street.”

“We cannot allow landlords to neglect their properties – and run them into the ground –then demolish them. These residents lost their homes, and as a community, we lost precious rent-controlled units,” said Council member Chin. “Landlords are finding every conceivable way to deregulate rent controlled and stabilized units, and it won’t stop unless we stand up and stop them. We are here today to say: It stops with 128 Hester Street.”

“It is simply unacceptable that tenants’ homes and safety can be jeopardized because a landlord intentionally neglects a building,” said Senator Squadron. “That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to prevent owners from circumventing the system and willfully neglecting their tenants’ homes. While we fight for the legislation on the state level, I will continue to stand with the residents of 128 Hester to ensure they receive the compensation and protections they need and deserve.”

 

 

PRESS COVERAGE

Ousted Hester Street Residents Demand Compensation (link) – DNA Info; June 5, 2012.

Three Years After Their Building Was Demolished, Rent Regulated Tenants Fight For Compensation (link) – Real Deal;  June 6, 2012.

Hotel Plans Face Protest (link) – Wall Street Journal; July 5, 2011.

Landlord Broke Building, Should Fix It, Tenants Say (link) – The Villager; September 16, 2009.

60 Tenants Thrown Out as Chinatown Tenement Shut (link) – Downtown Express; August 14, 2009