A deadline has been agreed upon to allow the tenants of a Bowery building to return home after they were forced from their apartments more than five months ago.
The agreement sets a move-in date of Aug. 31 for the tenants of 83-85 Bowery, and officially recognizes the apartments as rent-stabilized.
The tenants will also be compensated for their belongings that were thrown away in April while the building was being repaired.
“This agreement represents a positive outcome for the families of 83-85 Bowery, the building owners and the Chinatown community,” said Sam Spokony, who represents building owners, Bowery 8385 LLC, and landlord, Joseph Betesh. “As has been our shared goal from the beginning of this process, 85 Bowery will now be a safe, affordable, quality building for generations to come.”
The tenants were evacuated from their Chinatown building on Jan. 18, forced to leave most of their belongings behind on a frigid winter night after a court-ordered Department of Buildings inspection revealed a crumbling stair case and other safety violations.
As weeks of repair work turned into months, the tenants, who were also involved in a lawsuit over the rent-stabilized status of the building, repeatedly voiced concerns that they were being pushed out of their apartments so that Bowery 8385 LLC could convert them into market-rate units.
Several tenants staged dayslong hunger strikes on two separate occasions in an effort to corner Betesh and Bowery 8385 LLC into signing a deal that would ensure a deadline for them to return home.
Bowery 8385 LLC and Betesh, however, repeatedly denied those claims and blamed extensive repair work that was needed, including asbestos abatement, for the delays in getting the tenants back into their homes.
The move-in deadline agreement was formally announced during a Monday afternoon news conference outside of 83-85 Bowery.
Tenant Shuo Jin thanked the elected officials, community members and organizations that have stood by them over the last few months.
“We are so happy to have reached this agreement,” Jin said. “Every action including the hunger strikes, our marches, and our rallies, you have been there, and we couldn’t have done it without your support.”