Community Marches Against Racism and Displacement

Community Demands de Blasio Adopt LES/Chinatown Rezoning Plan

On Oct. 28, hundreds of residents, workers, students, small business owners, and others — including children and elderly — from the Lower East Side, Chinatown and across the city marched to City Hall. The marchers slogged through Hurricane Patricia’s driving rain from Cherry Street in the Lower East Side, past the Department of City Planning. Arriving at City Hall, marchers called on Mayor de Blasio to adopt the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) Rezoning Plan that will protect the entire community, which has become vulnerable to rampant luxury development.

Since the East Village Rezoning Plan was passed in 2008 — protecting majority white and wealthier neighborhoods while excluding majority Latino, African-American and Chinese neighborhoods in Community District 3 — new luxury development has accelerated gentrification and led to massive evictions. One stark example is the 80-story Extell tower with poor door that has applied for the 421-a tax break. The Lower East Side/Chinatown is now ground zero for the displacement of low-income people of color.

For the past seven years, nearly 60 organizations from the Lower East Side and Chinatown joined CWG to create a community-led rezoning plan that would protect the entire community using similar protections afforded to the East Village. Earlier this year the City’s Department of City Planning (DCP) rejected the community rezoning plan adopted by Chinatown Working Group, calling it too “far-fetched.”

On September 25th, close to 1,000 concerned individuals marched to City Hall to demand Mayor de Blasio take a stand against the displacement and adopt the CWG Rezoning Plan. The outpouring of community concern has encouraged other sectors of the community–including churches, students and small business owners–to join the call to pass the CWG Rezoning Plan. Some businesses even closed their doors for a few hours in a show of support for the march.

Coalition members invited Mayor de Blasio to attend the rally and put out his position on the marchers’ demands to:

  • End the 421-a tax abatement (a tax subsidy for luxury developments)
  • Immediately halt the Extell luxury tower at 227 Cherry Street
  • Adopt the CWG rezoning plan

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Chinatown and the Lower East Side are Not For Sale!

MARCH AGAINST DISPLACEMENT
Wednesday, October 28 at 3:30PM
Start at Cherry Street and Pike Slip | End at City Hallmarch-down-east-broadway

When New York City adopted the major East Village Rezoning in 2008, Chinatown and the Lower East Side were intentionally excluded. The wealthier white residents of the East Village got height restrictions and zoning protections for their neighborhood, while high-rise, luxury development was pushed into our community. Now the NYC Department of City Planning refuses to pass the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan, saying it’s too “far-fetched” to give Chinatown and Lower East Side equal protection to the East Village. Will Mayor de Blasio follow Bloomberg’s racist legacy by selling out our community to luxury developers?

If the Chinatown Working Group rezoning were adopted, luxury developers like Extell would not be able to build their 80 story high-rise tower with a separate “poor door” for low-income tenants. The rezoning plan will limit the height and size of buildings, require low-income housing in every new development, and block the sale of public housing and land to developers. These measures are needed to stop skyrocketing rents and the displacement of residents and small businesses.

On Sept. 25, close to a thousand residents, workers, small businesses, students, and others from Chinatown, the LES, and across the city marched to City Hall to demand that Mayor de Blasio protect our community from displacement.

Our community has been set in motion, but we must show Mayor de Blasio that we will not stop until our community gets the equal protection we deserve. We call on everyone to join our march on Wednesday, Oct. 28!

Demand that Mayor de Blasio Protect the Lower East Side and Chinatown:

  • Stop the racist Extell luxury development
  • End the 421a tax giveaway
  • Pass the Chinatown Working Group Community Rezoning Plan
Coalition to Protect Chinatown & the Lower East Side

List in formation: 318 Restaurant Workers’Union, Action by the Lower East Side, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Cabalito Restaurant, Chinese Staff &Workers Association, District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar, District Leader Pedro Cardi, Harlem Consumer Education Council, LaGuardia Houses Tenant Patrol, Lands End 2 Resident Association, LES Dwellers, Lower East Side Anti-Displacement Project, Mujeres y Hombres Luchadoras, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops, Orchard Street Block Association, Professor Peter Kwong from CUNY-Hunter, Project Reach, Sixth Street Community Center, Professor Juanita Díaz-Cotto from SUNY-Binghamton

It’s Time for the CSWA Picnic!

Join us for a day of fun with family and friends

BBQ * Swimming * Hiking * Games

Date: Sunday, August 23, 2015

Time: 8:30am-5pm

Location: Lake Welch, Harriman State Park

SEATING IS LIMITED! RSVP / pick up bus tickets from CSWA’s Chinatown Center or call (212) 334-2333

Bus Tickets:
$15  Members *  $20 Non-members  * $10 for children under age 12
(Buses leave from Chinatown and Sunset Park, Brooklyn)
 Highlights of the trip include:
  • Beach – Enjoy swimming, sunbathing and sand on a half-mile long beach
  • Hiking – Take a stroll on one of the many trails in Harriman State Park
  • Games – Kid and family friendly fun
  • Community – Come learn about recent developments in our work!
*Please note there is a $8/vehicle entrance fee if you plan to drive. 

** Press Advisory **

Communities Protest DCP’s Refusal to Protect Communities of Color,

     Call for March to City Hall- Call on Mayor to

Protect Chinatown and Lower East Side and Stop Extell

Date: Thursday, August 20, 2015
Time: 11AM
Location: Across from 227 Cherry St (corner of Pike St)
    Since the passing of the 2008 rezoning plan that only protected the East Village while excluding Chinatown and Lower East Side, many residents and small businesses have been displaced from our communities. The Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side met with the Department of City Planning (DCP) on August 5th and asked the DCP to give the same protections to Chinatown and the Lower East Side, which are mixed communities of color, as given to the East Village, a majority white community. The Coalition was told that we were too ambitious and our rezoning plan could not be implemented.
On August 20, 2015, 11am, the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side will hold a press conference at 227 Cherry Street where Extell is building a racist tower that will include a “poor door”. We will tell Mayor de Blasio that communities of color have had enough with the city’s racism and efforts to push us out! We will also call for a march to City Hall on September 25, 2015, from the former Pathmark site.
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Coalition to Protect Chinatown & the Lower East Side
318 Restaurant Workers’ Union, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Chinese Staff & Workers Association, District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar, District Leader Pedro Cardi, LaGuardia Houses Tenant Patrol, Lands End 2 Resident Association, Lower East Side Anti-Displacement Project, La Mujeres y Hombres Luchadoras, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops, Orchard Street Block Association,
Professor Peter Kwong from CUNY-Hunter, Project Reach, Sixth Street Community Center, Professor Juanita Díaz-Cotto from SUNY-Binghamton

Nail Salon, Restaurant, Day Laborer Workers and Advocates Applaud Attention to Wage Theft and Enforcement Call on Gov. Cuomo to Support SWEAT Bill to Make Labor Law Enforceable

Stop Wage Theft

Nail salon, restaurant, day laborer, home attendant, office, and other workers have been standing up against wage theft and even winning decisions. But despite these judgments, workers have not been able to collect the wages owed to them because legal loopholes allow employers to completely escape responsibility. By fraudulently transferring assets, declaring bankruptcy, or shutting down their business and changing names, unscrupulous employers can avoid ever paying the stolen wages of even those workers who win decisions at the DOL or judgments in court, such as the nail salon workers at Babi Nails.

This not only causes many workers to suffer, it also undermines those employers who comply with the labor law. Even the Labor Department says it is frustrated because it cannot collect stolen wages.

As long as bosses can run away from the law, there will be no end to wage theft. The Coalition calls on the Governor to support the SWEAT bill (Securing Wages Earned Against Theft) to make the labor law enforceable and to put a stop to sweatshop conditions.

83-85 Bowery

Monday 5/18 at 10AM: Tenants Speak Out Against Eviction by Slumlord, and Demand Repairs

*Press Advisory*

Tenants Speak Out Against Eviction by Slumlord, and Demand Repairs

Urge Mayor to Take Steps to Prevent Further Displacement in Chinatown/Lower East Side

What: Press Conference

When: Monday, May 18, 2015,10am

Where: In front of 83-85 Bowery St. New York, NY, 10002

For years, residents of 83-85 Bowery Street have been experiencing constant water leakage from ceilings, and recently, a bathroom floor on the verge of collapse. For example, when one floor takes a shower, water leaks through the floor below. In one apartment, they have to keep an umbrella up in their bathroom to prevent water from the above apartment from coming down on them. In addition, the uneven and sloping stairs have been a hazardous problem for one of the buildings, where many families, seniors, and children live.  Most recently, after the tenants organized a tenant association, the tenants of 85 Bowery had their gas cut off since April 1st, 2015, and despite calls to 311 and asking the landlord to resolve, gas was only reinstated last week, after over 40 days.

The landlord, Joseph Betesh, has left the building to be rundown since he acquired it in 2013, along with 9 other buildings on Bowery Street.  Since then, no repairs or upkeep have been done by the landlord. The landlord is deliberately keeping the building in disrepair as a way to force tenants out because he cannot do so legally.

Since the passage of the 2008 rezoning, many luxury developments have been pushed into our neighborhood, and landlords in Chinatown and the Lower East Side have been evicting low income people from rent stabilized buildings left and right. The tenants are demanding the landlord to fix immediate dangers in all apartments and that the City should hold the landlord accountable.  The tenants, along with the Public Advocate’s Office, call for public attention to this concern and urge other tenants to speak out against poor living conditions.

Chinatown and the Lower East Side say “No Way!” to Extell’s Luxury Tower Call on Mayor De Blasio to Support Community-Based Rezoning Plans

***Press Release ***

Community based organizations, residents, and small businesses of the Lower East Side and Chinatown rallied Tuesday to demand that Mayor de Blasio stop Extell from constructing an ultra-luxury skyscraper for the 1% on the Lower East Side waterfront. The tower could potentially rise 700 feet and be twice as high as any surrounding development. Despite recent news that Extell is bringing the tower down from 72 to 56-stories, the community is still opposed. Allowing the tower to be built will result in the mass displacement of low-income families of color and ultimately destroy Chinatown and the Lower East Side. We are demanding that the Mayor support a community based rezoning plan with anti-displacement and anti-harassment provisions to protect the local neighborhood, and especially public housing, which is being privatized.

“The local community fears that allowing the tower to be built as proposed will exacerbate the neighborhood’s already ongoing gentrification, result in the displacement of low-income families of color, and ultimately destroy the existing unique character of Chinatown and the Lower East Side” says Ginger Lopez, Community Organizer at Good Old Lower East Side.

The Extell tower is being built on a former publicly-owned lot (the Two Bridges Urban Renewal Area) that housed a Pathmark, the only affordable supermarket serving the surrounding low-income community. Since the Pathmark was closed in 2012, residents have struggled to find quality affordable groceries. Many are forced to travel as far as New Jersey to meet this need. Furthermore, the Extell tower will be built in the middle of several NYCHA and publicly subsidized low and moderate income developments.[1] Many fear that the Extell tower will accelerate the privatization of the surrounding public housing.

The tower is yet another example of how the City is robbing the poor to feed the rich and making low-income people of color second-class citizens in our own neighborhoods” says, David Tieu, organizer at NMASS. Furthermore these policies create economic segregation while damaging the history and diversity of the Lower East Side and Chinatown. “In fact, these same policies are affecting neighborhoods all over the city from Jamaica, East New York, the Bronx and Staten Island and we stand with all those communities in their fight as it is all one fight” says, Naved Husain, Lead Organizer at CAAAV. The Extell tower may potentially be subsidized by tens of millions of dollars in public financing including 421A tax abatements, Housing Finance Agency Bonds and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which will be used towards building a much smaller and separate “poor door” building next to the luxury tower. Rather than helping to solve the affordable housing crisis in the city, these subsidies are contributing to the destruction of existing affordable housing by encouraging and subsidizing luxury development.

“We oppose this racist tower that will displace thousands of people of color. Already public housing is being sold off to the rich. Our community says no to racism and no to the Extell development” said Wendy Cheung from Chinese Staff & Workers Association.

The Chinatown Working Group, a community-based planning process convened by the City in 2008, is in the process of finalizing a rezoning plan for the entire Chinatown and Lower East Side neighborhood in order to protect the existing community from displacement and prevent luxury development. Part of the plan calls for a rezoning of the East River waterfront, where the Extell tower is to be built, in order to prevent out-of-scale luxury development. The plan also requires that developers build at least 55% low-income housing on new developments along the East River waterfront. Approximately 10,000 residents, workers, and small business owners signed petitions supporting the plan. Although Mayor de Blasio’s administration has paid lip service to community involvement in the development process, a recent letter from the Department of City Planning expressed that this plan was rejected by the administration because it focused too much on the “preservation of affordable housing”. Members of the community call on Mayor de Blasio to pass this plan to protect the community from displacement and prevent future luxury development like Extell’s tower from being built in the community.

The community organizations urge more residents and to come forward to say no to Extell and join monthly rallies at its site. Residents can call for more information.

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[1] Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Chinatown Tenants Union, Chinese Staff and Workers Association (CSWA), CAAAV-Organizing Asian Communities, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), Mujeres Y Hombres Luchadoras, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS)

NYCHA developments include: Smith Houses, Two Bridges, Rutgers Houses, LaGuardia Houses, Vladeck Houses, and Seward Park Extension. Publicly subsidized developments include: Land’s End I, Land’s End II, Two Bridges Houses, Two Bridges Townhouses, Two Bridges Senior Apartments, and Two Bridges Tower.

Chinatown and the Lower East Side say “No Way!” to Extell’s Luxury Tower

 Call on Mayor de Blasio to Support Community-Based Rezoning Plan

For Immediate Release

Community based organizations, residents, and small businesses of the Lower East Side and Chinatown are rallying to demand that Mayor de Blasio stop Extell from constructing an ultra-luxury skyscraper for the 1% on the Lower East Side waterfront. The tower could potentially rise 700 feet and be twice as high as any surrounding development. Despite recent news that Extell is bringing the tower down from 72 to 56-stories, the community is still opposed.

The Extell tower is being built on a former publicly-owned lot (the Two Bridges Urban Renewal Area) that housed a Pathmark on 227 Cherry St., the only affordable supermarket serving the surrounding low-income community. Since the Pathmark was closed in 2012, residents have struggled to find quality affordable groceries. Furthermore, the Extell tower will be built in the middle of several NYCHA and publicly subsidized low and moderate income developments.

The local community fears that the Extell tower will accelerate the privatization of the surrounding public housing and will result in the mass displacement of low-income families of color that will ultimately destroy Chinatown and the Lower East Side. We are demanding that the Mayor support a community based re-zoning to protect the local neighborhood, and especially public housing, which is at risk of being privatized.

Location: Across from 227 Cherry St., NY, NY 10002 (Corner of Cherry St. and Pike St.)

Date:Tuesday, 4/28/2015

Time: 11 AM

Hosted by: Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Chinatown Tenants Union (CTU), Chinese Staff and Workers Association (CSWA), CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), Mujeres Y Hombres Luchadoras, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS)