Squadron says, ‘No mas’ to mass evictions by owners

By Lincoln Anderson and Robert Kreizel

State Senators Daniel Squadron and Liz Krueger and City Councilmember Rosie Mendez joined tenants on the stoop of 47 E. Third St. last Thursday to announce Squadron’s introduction of a new bill to stop the abuse of so-called “owner-occupancy” evictions of rent-regulated tenants.

Squadron’s legislation would restrict “mass evictions” to a single dwelling unit to be used as the landlord’s primary residence, and would prohibit the eviction of tenants who have lived in their apartments more than 20 years.

“This is a loophole that some owners have driven a Mack truck through,” said Squadron. “Tenants shouldn’t have to live in fear of losing their homes to that sort of abuse. With these common-sense updates to the law, tenants will be protected from cases where an owner wants to evict an entire building at once. This landlord has evicted 15 units worth of tenants. It’s a clear abuse of the spirit of the law, and it is absolutely sickening.”

After waging a losing battle in court, the 47 E. Third St. tenants recently settled with their landlords, Alistair and Catherine Economakis, taking buyouts of $75,000 each; they have until Aug. 31 to vacate the building.

“A family that desires 9,000 square feet for their personal use should not purchase a tenement walk-up and convert it to a one-family dwelling,” said Mendez. “I urge the state Legislature to close this outrageous loophole and pass a law that will save the homes of low- and moderate-income families.”

Other local politicians who issued statements of support for the bill included Borough President Scott Stringer; State Senator Tom Duane; Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, who is a prime sponsor of the legislation in the state Assembly; and Council Speaker Chris Quinn.