East Village tenants try to block sale of affordable housing

February 24, 2011 01:09PM

Residents of an affordable housing rental building in the East Village at 390 East 8th Street plan to announce today that they had filed a complaint with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urging him to block the sale of their homes to Tower Brokerage by other tenants in the building. The building is designated for low-income residents because of a court agreement which mandated it, but groups say that the potential sale violates that agreement. Tenants from the building are trying to sell it to Tower, potentially leaving countless residents homeless. “I hope the attorney general does the right thing and blocks this sale before people become homeless,” said Marilyn Berdugo, a tenant of 17 years. “This is the only thing I have and where am I going to go if this building is no longer affordable?” The building has been owned by a non-profit corporation since the early 1980s, but tenants are seeking to sell it to Tower Brokerage, who plan to convert it into a luxury co-op. In a letter to the Attorney General, the tenants state that they have benefitted from this low-income housing by paying greatly reduced rental rates and that it would now be inequitable to allow these tenants to profit from this low-income benefit, at the expense of tax payers. The tenants also point out that even if Tower purchases the building, it would be obligated to maintain the premises under the original corporate purpose of 390 East 8th Street Housing Development Fund Corporation, which is to provide housing for low-income people. TRD