Bronx Tenants File Contempt Motion in Housing Court to Hold Landlord Accountable for Dangerous Living Conditions

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The Bronx, New York (September 23, 2021) – Tenants on rent strike at 1210 Clay Avenue held a press conference outside their building before filing a contempt motion in Bronx housing court today restoring their case to the court calendar.

Tenants, some of whom are still displaced by an April 2021 fire, sued their landlady, Hee Yang, in court earlier this year to force her to fix dangerous living repairs, but little has been fixed. Tenants are living with rodent infestations, lack of heat and hot water, faulty plumbing, broken windows, and frequent electricity outages. Some are still living in a congregant shelter for over five months due to an April fire. There are over 100 code violations in the building which a judge previously ordered Yang to fix to no avail.

Link to view photos of building conditions here.

“I’ve been in the congregant shelter for six months since the fire waiting to get repairs so I can get back,” said Kevin Brown, who is currently fighting to get back into his apartment after being vacated by HPD due to the damage from the fire in April. “The City, HPD, and the Housing Court judge have all ordered her to repair my apartment and my doctor is urging me to get surgery which I cannot get until I’m home and have my own place to recover. What’s happening to us is not right.”

“Ever since the fire my daughter has been scared to be alone in the apartment because the electrical system has not been fixed and we still smell the smoke in the walls, it’s so uncomfortable. And that’s not to mention the repairs we’ve been waiting for years,” said Tenants’ Association member, Fiordaliza Lora.

The majority of the tenants living in the 10-unit building are immigrants and working-class New Yorkers who lost work and wages at the beginning of the pandemic and are still struggling to survive. Since they started organizing with Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) in May 2020, they have been joining their allies on the front lines demanding eviction protections and rent relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"All these apartments are supposed to be [Rent Stabilized] apartments but she’s renting rooms and charging who knows what while at the same time she doesn’t make repairs,” said one member of the Tenants’ Association, Aboubakar Omar. “We need New York City and New York State to know that so we can reclaim our rights!”

Last summer, tenants of 1210 Clay Avenue joined thousands of New Yorkers who started building-wide rent strikes in support of the movement to Cancel Rent. The rent strikers at 1210 Clay Avenue are demanding full relief for rent owed during the pandemic in addition to the repairs and services they are owed by their landlady.

“The pandemic is not over and we continue to suffer from it, while landlords worry about their profits and their bottom line,” said tenant, William Heidbreder. “Our landlady is now slated to get up to 15 months of rent paid by the state through the [Emergency Rental Assistance Program – ERAP]… so why the reluctance to work with us to solve the problems that involve us both?”

Tenants sought representation from Bronx Legal Services to sue their landlady to Bronx Housing Court in March 2021 over repairs. Now that the deadline given to Yang by the court to finish repairs has passed, tenants have filed a motion to hold Yang in contempt of court and calling on the City to take responsibility for the conditions their landlady continues to neglect. Tenants will continue on rent strike until their demands are met.

“This landlord is blatantly refusing to repair dangerous living conditions in this building, putting tenants at considerable risk during a pandemic," said Ezinwanyi Ukegbu, a housing attorney at Bronx Legal Services. "Worse, tenants are also facing eviction. This is completely unacceptable, which is why tenants are taking action to hold the landlord accountable. These tenants who are immigrants, low-income, working class and individuals of color, built and shaped the very fabric of their neighborhood and community and are here to stay. We will never stop fighting until we get justice for these tenants and their families.”



Bronx Legal Services, a program of Legal Services NYC, fights poverty and seeks racial, social, and economic justice for low-income New Yorkers. For 50 years, Bronx Legal Services has challenged systemic injustice and helped clients meet basic needs for housing, access to high-quality education, health care, family stability, and income and economic security. Legal Services NYC is the largest civil legal services provider in the country, with neighborhood-based offices across all five boroughs helping more than 80,000 New Yorkers annually. Bronx Legal Services’ Tenant Rights Coalition work is funded by NYC Human Resources Administration’s Anti-Harassment and Tenant Protection program.

Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA), a project of New Settlement, is made up of community residents who work together to improve the living conditions in our neighborhood and maintain affordable housing through collective action. Our ultimate goal is to build a unified and empowered local community. CASA began in 2005, out of the need in the community to improve the poor housing conditions that persist for many families in our area of the Southwest Bronx.


Our Citywide Legal Assistance Hotline is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 4 pm. Call 917-661-4500 to speak to an intake officer in any language.


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