Bowery Boogie: Lower East Side and Chinatown, Rise Up!

Read our Op-Ed in the Bowery Boogie: “For the last few weeks, the Lower East Side has been buzzing with news of a new era. Many different sectors of the community have been coming out to support the adoption of a community rezoning plan. Hundreds of Latino, African American, Chinese and white residents, workers, students and business owners have taken hours out of their busy days to go door-to-door or stand on the street and distribute flyers, posters and petitions in opposition to discriminatory zoning, high rents and displacement, and in support of the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) rezoning plan that will protect the entire Chinatown and Lower East Side area in Community District 3. Historically, Chinatown has been pitted against the Lower East Side, using racism to divide us and keep us fighting for crumbs. Now, many people see why we need to march together on City Hall, and are eager to participate.”

Read the whole article >>

 

October 28th: March Against Displacement

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?

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Chinatown and LES unite in march against displacement, demand mayor de blasio protect entire community

On Friday, residents, workers, local business owners, students and concerned community members-including children and elderly-of the Lower East Side and Chinatown rallied at the site of the controversial 80-story luxury tower being built by Extell. Hundreds of community members and supporters protested the building of a luxury building in their backyard and demanding Mayor de Blasio adopt the Chinatown Working Group plan to protect the Chinatown and Lower East Side.

For years, the Lower East Side and Chinatown have been left wide open and vulnerable to luxury towers. Meanwhile the wealthier, white East Village has been afforded protection through a rezoning which capped building height limits. The Chinatown Working Group worked for 7 years on a rezoning plan that preserves existing low-income housing in area, as well as protect the communities from future luxury development. In 2012, 10,000 residents signed petitions in support of this plan.  Coalition members and community members are outraged that the Department of City Planning recently turned down this plan.

In recent years, rents have skyrocketed, evictions are rampant, luxury buildings and hotels are replacing long-time affordable homes and businesses, schools are severely underfunded, and the entire community is being pushed out.

Shuifan Cheng, a resident of 85 Bowery, spoke to the realities residents are currently facing in the area- “I have been living in this building for 17 years. My landlord in 2013 bought 11 buildings on Bowery Street. We asked the landlord to come repair the building. Not only did he refuse to repair the building, he started to evict us. Right now, not only the 83-85 Bowery Street tenants are being evicted, the entire Chinatown is facing displacement and eviction. I know people who live on Henry Street and Madison

Street are being displaced. Everywhere, people are being displaced and evicted. The small shops that we go to are closing one after another…This is our community. It is Chinese people’s community, Latinos’ community, Black people’s community. We will not move out.”

Meanwhile, Tanya Castro-Negron, President of the Lands End 2 Resident Association spoke to the loss of funds to the community, particularly the schools. “Back in the early 80’s and 90’s [our] schools … were successful … Our schools were also successful because of the wonderful programs provided for our children that engaged all families, funded by the property taxes that were paid for by private developers. Today we have lost all programs and are on the brink of losing our public schools entirely due to lack of funding. The 421a tax abatement provides a free ride for luxury real estate developers on the backs of the poor communities, stripping and robbing our children of a rewarding education.”

David Tieu, of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side said, “The 80-story Extell tower is the clearest example of why our community needs a rezoning plan now. For almost 7 years, the Lower East Side and Chinatown have united to create the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan to protect its residents, workers, and small businesses from displacement. Thousands of people have been involved and support this plan. This is why we say it is undemocratic and racist that City Planning rejected the plan. We demand that de Blasio do the right thing- stop Extell, end the 421a, and pass the Chinatown Working Group plan now.” Protesters also vowed to return if their demands were not met.

Other speakers at the rally included Jenifer Rajkumar, district leader; Louise Velez, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops; Norma Ramirez, Action by the Lower East Side; and Victor Li, student representative.

Sept. 25th : March Against Displacement!

  • Have we had enough of high rents?
  • Enough of tall luxury condos, subsidized with tax-payer $$, jacking up property taxes?
  • Enough of seeing our favorite stores like Pathmark shut down?
  • Enough of our school programs and senior centers being cut?

It’s time to march to City Hall to tell Mayor de Blasio that we’ve had enough of the racist Tale of Two Cities! It’s time to assert control over our community!
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Thanks to Everyone for a Great Summer Picnic

Yesterday, NMASS members and their family and friends headed up to Welch Lake in Harriman State Park for our yearly NMASS Summer Picnic. Folks brought food and drinks for themselves and their families and to share with friends and other members. Some members organized kids games (many of which involved water balloons!), in addition to a big soccer game with kids and adults.

Thanks to everyone who helped to plan and who cam out to enjoy the beautiful weather! Check out some of the pictures below: (more…)

Sign the Petition: Stop the Racist Extell Development

Dear Mayor De Blasio,

We are concerned about the displacement of low-income working families and small businesses from the Lower East Side and Chinatown. The ultra-luxury Extell development on the former Pathmart site (227 Cherry Street) is racist and will devastate our low-income community of color. It should not be built. We do not need a “poor door”. We need real affordable housing for low-income families. We demand that you:

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Please Give to Help STOP Wage Theft

A few weeks ago, we launched the Workers Enforcement Fundraising Project to support workers who are organizing for just, enforceable labor laws in New York State. We’ve raised several thousand so far, but we need your help to reach out goal of $25,000! Help us continue to build this movement by visiting the fundraising campaign website to make a donation today and spread the word to friends and family.

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NYS Judiciary Committee Approves SWEAT Bill

Earlier this week, the SWEAT bill passed its first hurdle in the New York State Legislature. The Judiciary Committee voted to approve it, and the bill has now been referred to the Codes Committee, on its way to reaching the floor of the Assembly for a full vote. We are calling on members and supporters to call their state representatives, especially if they belong to the Codes or Rules Committee, to support SWEAT and help make the labor law enforceable!

Welcome Our New Board Member

Join us in welcoming a new member to the NMASS Board of Directors!

domingoDomingo Teofilo is a restaurant workers who lives in Washington Heights, NY. He’s been a member of NMASS since 2009. Domingo, an immigrant from Mexico, has organized co-workers at two restaurants to stand up to sweatshop conditions; and participates in our labor-law enforcement work.

Tenants Speak Out vs. Eviction by Slumlord, Urge Mayor to Take Steps to Prevent Further Displacement in Chinatown/LES

On May 18, 27 families of 83 and 85 Bowery protested with dozens of other residents, the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and Lower East Side, the office of Public Advocate Leticia James and District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar to condemn their slumlord Joseph Betesh, owner of the Dr. Jay’s hip hop clothing chain store. Since Betesh took ownership of their buildings in 2013, he has deliberately refused to do repairs and renew leases, in an effort to drive these low-income families out of their homes. (more…)