Residents of an East Village apartment building wept on Thursday after they say they were abruptly kicked out onto the street last month, forcing them to couch surf and even enter the shelter system.
The door to 642 East 14th Street remained padlocked on Dec. 14 as dozens of displaced residents charged against Madison Realty Capital after they said construction beside their home led to unsafe conditions that forced them out on Nov. 29.
“I have lived at 642 since 1996. I’m a husband and I have four younger children. We miss our neighborhoods, we miss our school, we miss our friends,” Mohamed Dawod said to a crowd of neighbors and friends. “I wish nobody would go through what we go through.”
According to the displaced tenants, construction was underway working on developing luxury housing beside the over century-old, five story apartment building when cracks apparently started to appear in the facade. Being swiftly deemed unsafe, families occupying some 17 units were instructed to immediately evacuate, leaving many of their belongings behind.
While some of the individuals — including seniors and young children — were afforded temporary accommodations by the Red Cross, yet this offer is now expiring. Many of the newly homeless former residents say they have been left to search for help elsewhere, from sleeping on couch to couch, to enrolling in an extremely crowded shelter system. Others who have lived in the building for decades wept profusely, whimpering that they miss their home.
“I have lived here for 33 years. I am traumatized since the vacate order. Some of us have nowhere to go but live in shelters,” Susan Ingram cried. “Please help us.”
Those who call 642 East 14th Street home are not only begging for their homes back but are also clambering for a chance to retrieve their belongings they say still remain locked away in a building that has been deemed unsafe by the city.
According to the Department of Buildings (DOB), inspectors discovered heavy cracks both inside and outside of the building with additional inspections revealing that the building’s “structural stability” had been “compromised.” A full Stop Work Order is in effect at the construction site. The DOB also says they will be working to stabilize the building going forward.
Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who joined emotional residents on Thursday, told amNewYork Metro that when Madison Realty Capital got wind of the cry for help they reached out to Rivera to discuss possibly housing residents at other locations, yet this has yet to materialize.
“The past two-plus weeks have been pretty harrowing when we got the vacate order from the Department of Buildings, and I was told I had just a few hours to get my things together and leave. It was the kind of terrifying moment you don’t soon forget,” Michael Hawley said. “We need to quickly meet with MRC and start moving plans forward in earnest.”
amNewYork Metro reached out to Madison Realty Capital and awaiting a response.