“Can Good Artists Be Good Neighbors?”
Block party to focus on “owner use” evictions of tenants at 533 Bergen St., Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, August 26, 2007 – Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) and the tenants of 533 Bergen Street will be hosting a neighborhood rally and block party against the attempted “owner-use” evictions of four rent-stabilized families at 533 Bergen St. in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Owners Andre Wiesmayr and Deanne Cheuk, both well-recognized designers and artists (Cheuk was recently named one of “20 under 30” to watch by Print magazine) want to take over five rent-stabilized units and convert the apartments into a triplex for themselves and co-owners Felicity Loughrey, a celebrity journalist for Vogue Australia, and husband Dan Bailey. Eviction proceedings have already begun. “Sometimes I don’t even sleep thinking about what’s going to happen” says Evelyn Suarez, a cancer survivor who lives in the building with two of her children and one grandchild. “We would have to go to the shelter, that’s our only choice”.

Owner-use evictions, which are on the rise in Brooklyn, especially in the shadow of proposed development at Atlantic Yards less than a half-mile from 533 Bergen, are based on a provision of New York State rent laws which allows landlords to evict rent-regulated tenants to reclaim units for themselves or their family members—without any limit as to how many units are cleared. So-called “owner-use abuse” is also often exploited in order to de-stabilize rents and convert units to market rates. “Over the past year or so, our office has seen a sharp increase in ‘owner use’ eviction cases” says Brent Meltzer, an attorney with South Brooklyn Legal Services who is representing one of the threatened households. “These landlords are not content with taking just one apartment and often seek to displace an entire building full of rent stabilized tenants”.

WHO: Elected officials, FAC organizers, neighbors, and affordable housing supporters

WHAT: Neighborhood block party and rally against owner-use evictions

WHEN: Sunday, August 26, 2007 Noon – 6pm; PRESS CONFERENCE, 12:30pm

WHERE: Bergen St. (Between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue), Brooklyn


Dave Powell

FAC Tenant Organizer

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