Every day support is growing for AAFE’s “Justice for 128 Hester” campaign. On Tuesday, August 7, longtime community leader Julie Menin and the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council joined the struggle on behalf of the residents displaced by the developer of the new Wyndham Garden Chinatown Hotel.
Three years ago, 8 families – 29 people – residing at 128 Hester Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown, lost their homes due to the intentional neglect of the building’s owner, William Su. After purchasing the building in July 2007, William Su did little to correct any problems even though building conditions jeopardized the lives of the 8 families. He then reported his building’s violations to the Department of Buildings (DOB) in order to expedite demolition of the property. The DOB noted that the deterioration of 128 Hester was due in part to the construction of an 18-story Wyndham Hotel on an adjacent property at 91-93 Bowery, also owned by William Su.
The New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR) ordered William Su to pay relocation fees for the tenants, but he has refused to comply. The 128 Hester Street tenants hang in limbo, awaiting relief from the hardship they have suffered because of the owner’s willful indifference to the condition of the building and the welfare of its residents. On June 7, 2012, DHCR held a settlement conference between the landlord and the tenants; however, the landlord has refused to negotiate in good faith.
“It has been over two years since the original DHCR decision and William Su has refused to take up the responsibility to settle with the tenants of 128 Hester Street,” said Christopher Kui, Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality, during a news conference in front of the hotel. “We are gathered here today as a community to say enough is enough and to demand justice for the 128 Hester Street tenants.”
“I am proud to stand with the tenants of 128 Hester Street and Asian Americans for Equality in calling on the developer to provide fair compensation for displacing these families from their homes,” said Julie Menin. “We must ensure that we have responsible development in our city and that we protect the stability of our communities from displacement.”
“The 30,000 members of the Hotel Workers Union are proud to stand with the tenants of 128 Hester in their fight for just and fair compensation,” said Josh Gold of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council. “As Hotel developers continue to benefit from a sustained tourism boom, we must together make sure that these developers are responsible to our communities. Responsible development means that developers should not only provide fair wages and benefits, like healthcare, to employees but it also means that developers must be good neighbors.”
AAFE will continue to pursue Justice for the 128 Hester Street tenants and asks the community to sign our petition on behalf of the residents of 128 Hester Street. The petition calls on Wyndham Worldwide and William Su to:
- Rebuild 128 Hester Street and restore all rent-regulated tenants to their apartments; or to
- Provide permanent relocation units for the families within the neighborhood; and to
- Provide just and fair compensation for their housing loss and relocation costs.
For more information, visit our Justice for Chinatown web site.
CLICK HERE TO SIGN OUR PETITION.
Displaced Chinatown Residents Continue to Demand Compensation (link) – NY1; August 7, 2012.
Chinatown Residents Claim They Lost Homes Due to Owner Neglect (link) – NY1; July 13, 2012.
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