Brooklyn housing rights activists march to end winter evictions

Protesters rally to prevent winter evictions and in favor of ‘Good Cause Eviction in December 2021.
Photo by Adrian Childress

With the clock ticking toward the expiring eviction moratorium on Jan. 15, hundreds took to the streets of Manhattan this weekend begging for relief and a stay of removal.

On Dec. 11, housing rights activists from Brooklyn and beyond gathered at the Manhattan Housing Court, at 111 Centre St., where they demanded the abolishment of winter evictions.

With the eviction moratorium set to expire on Jan. 15 — an extension put in place to prevent mass evictions from occurring during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — countless will be susceptible to losing their homes next year.  However, it isn’t just the evictions advocates are concerned about, but also the time which they are set to take place.

Anxious that hordes of New Yorkers will be made homeless during the year’s harshest and most frigid months, housing rights groups marched in the streets from Foley Square to Wall Street chanting: “We are the tenants fighting for justice!” and “End all evictions now.” 

The march slowed traffic as they strode through Lower Manhattan. Photo by Adrian Childress
“Housing is a human right!” Photo by Adrian Childress

Eviction defense groups such as Brooklyn Eviction Defense, Flatbush Tenant Coalition, Housing Justice for All, Crown Heights Tenants Union, and others helped organize the march to put pressure on elected officials to extend the moratorium to May 31, 2022, and abolish winter evictions forever.

Stopping at the New York State Assembly office–250 Broadway—they bellowed that “Housing is a human right.” In addition to demanding an extension to the moratorium, they also pushed for the passage of the “Good Cause” bill, which would allow tenants to renew their leases–preventing the landlord from removing the tenant without a court order–as well as capping rental increase to 3% of the rent (and permitting tenants to challenge unfair increases).

Attendees held signs, “Honor Ms. Noel and all of our elders–no winter evictions,” citing the case of Joy Pearl Noel, an 85-year-old woman who passed away homeless. Activists say Noel was wrongly evicted from her Flatbush home of 20 years and charge the landlord for her health deteriorating due to the court stress and she passed away in a nursing home.

Marching through the streets, protesters chanted “We are the tenants fighting for justice!” Photo by Adrian Childress

Blocking traffic, the protesters paused for a moment of silence for all of those who have lost their lives due to evictions.

The demonstration ended outside of Trinity Church on Wall Street, where organizers said they prepared a letter for the clergy to sign that supports their cause for an eviction moratorium extension.

“For more than 300 years now, it has [Trinity Church] been one of the largest landlords and landowners in the city. It also claims to be a moral authority here on Wall Street and Broadway,” one protester said. “We have a letter that’s going to clergy members all over the city and state from faith leaders of every denomination to say we refuse to let our neighbors, our fellow human beings, to be thrown out into the streets. So, we are asking today if Trinity Church will sign on to that letter to demand the city and state abolish winter evictions and evictions forever.”

“Housing 4 all” read one man’s sign. Photo by Adrian Childress

This story first appeared on amNewYork.