Our Chinatown Tenants Union (CTU) was founded in 2005 as a space for residents to come together and provide a unified community voice on issues relating to gentrification and development. CTU builds power of residents to protect affordable housing through a tri-prong strategy:
- Organizing tenants in buildings acquired by predatory landlords to challenge unjust evictions and harassment. We strategically target large landlords who attempt to de-regulate the city’s rent-stabilized housing stock;
- Activating tenants to become CTU members who lead campaigns to change City and State agencies and policies for greater tenant protections and affordable housing;
- Engaging Chinatown in the Equitable Rezoning Campaign to build a community envisioned by the long-time residents that is sustainable for the long-term.
Why We Need CTU!
Over the last 15 years, Chinatown has has lost over 20% of its Asian residents and 15,000 affordable housing units due to escalating rent and displacement. Expensive lofts, luxury condos and hotels now replace the garment factories and large swaths of affordable apartments that once characterized the neighborhood. Landlords contribute greatly to this problem by using such tactics as withholding basic services or launching frivolous eviction proceedings to force tenants out of their homes. Developers receive government subsidies, but exploit loop-holes to not build affordable housing.
What CTU Has Accomplished!
In recent years, CTU has protected Chinatown and affordable housing in NYC by:
- Developing the leadership of Chinatown tenants to prevent unjust evictions, win healthier conditions, and preserve affordable housing for hundreds of residents. For example, in March, residents of 22 Spring won leases from their predatory landlord SMA Equities, $205,000 in rent abatements, the clearing of all building violations, and ending of harassment as an eviction tactic. SMA Equities stopped their practice of aggressively flipping rent-stabilized units to market rate units in Chinatown/LES;
- Anchoring coordination of Manhattan housing groups that won the first rent freeze in over 46 years in 2015 and won a second rent freeze in 2016 for over one million rent-stabilized New Yorkers;
- Organizing tenants to secure the Tenant Protections Unit of Governor Cuomo’s office to issue a subpoena and investigation on Marolda Properties, protecting hundreds of long-time tenants from being evicted;
- Securing tenant lease renewals and repairs from SMA Equities landlord Samy Mahfar and directing the Attorney General to order a cease-and-desist on notorious tenant-relocator Michel Pimienta;
- Organizing hundreds of New Yorkers to provide assistance and relief to thousands of stranded LEP residents post-Hurricane Sandy and advocating for language justice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA);
- Pressuring the city to allocate $14 million towards building open green space for residents along the East River Waterfront, instead of its original plan of high-end stores and private development.
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