A Victory for Movement for Justice in El Barrio
Most Powerful Landlord in East Harlem, Multi-National Dawnay, Day Group, Comes Crashing Down
from Movement for Justice in El Barrio
October 14, 2009—In a battle of David and Goliath proportions, tenants and members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio fought back against the attempts of the multi-billion dollar London-based corporation Dawnay, Day Group to push low-income families from their homes.
Thousands of East Harlem tenants have just been notified that the 47 buildings they reside in have been seized, due to Dawnay, Day’s failure to pay its massive outstanding debts, and are now under receivership, completing the demise of this multi-national company, a powerful threat to the community of El Barrio.
The multinational corporation that had scooped up 47 buildings in East Harlem, controlling one of the largest private property collections in Manhattan and by far the largest in East Harlem, is going down. Worldwide, Dawnay, Day has fallen victim to its own greed and is selling off its properties to cover its debt.
The East Harlem community has outlasted the giant through a multi-pronged strategy of resistance. This news comes close on the heels of a ground breaking legal victory in a case filed by Movement for Justice in El Barrio concerning thousands of dollars in false charges that were tormenting low-income tenants. Through this case, Movement for Justice in El Barrio partnered with Manhattan Legal Services and NEDAP to employ the innovative use of consumer protection laws for the first time in the housing arena with great success. Members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio just signed a settlement that will benefit thousands of tenants by putting an end to the practice of charging tenants thousands of dollars in false and illegal charges, instituting a new 3% cap on late fees for all tenants, and the plaintiffs receiving monetary damages, among other victories.
When Dawnay, Day became the most powerful landlord in East Harlem with their immense purchase, they announced in an interview with the Times of London their plan to take advantage of lax tenant protection laws in NYC to raise rents by “tenfold”, a massive rent hike that would only be possible by evicting the current low-income and immigrant families from their homes. Again, they made their intentions explicit when they launched their “Buy-back Program” and began pushing tenants to abandon their apartments for a lump sum of $10,000. They coupled what amounts to measly and misleading offers in today’s NYC rental market with severe harassment in the form of dangerous negligence to the physical conditions of the buildings and apartments and illegal efforts to collect fictitious debts.
Movement for Justice in El Barrio fought back against their efforts by
- Filing a groundbreaking legal suit and recently winning a major victory that challenged Dawnay, Day Group, for charging thousands of dollars in false fees to its tenants.
- Launching the “International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio” and traveling to London to organize action to take them on at their headquarters.
- Fighting back building by building to demand decent living conditions and halt illegal evictions and maintaining a sustained media campaign exposing Dawnay, Day’s harassment.
Movement for Justice in El Barrio will continue the struggle for dignity and against displacement with more strength and energy than ever before.