No help for displaced illegal tenants

January 09, 2009 09:17AM

The city Office of Emergency Management vacated several Chinatown buildings during the last six weeks of 2008 because of fire safety violations, often due to landlords who illegally divided floors into single-room-occupancy units, blocking exits and sprinklers. The office only notifies the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development about displaced tenants if they are living in legal units, leaving many of the illegal tenants on their own to find temporary housing. Helena Wong, who works for the Chinatown Tenants Union, said, “People are literally yelling, ‘Get your stuff and go.’ There is no plan to make sure people are in temporary housing, and there’s no information on when [they can] move back.” The Chinatown Tenants Union helped some of the vacated residents find housing, and some tenants are suing the landlords who won’t provide a timeline about when the buildings will be brought up to code and residents will be able to move back in.