Slumlord's $20 Million Dollar Lawsuit


Dave

Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 03:10 pm
Another classic (and dangerous) example of a landlord trying to shut
up tenant activists with a so called "slapsuit". Thiscomes to you from
CAAAV (Coalition Against Anti-Asian Violence) via Met Council on Housing.
For more information, contact the Chinatown Justice Project at CAAAV:
212 473 6485, HyunandKisuk@aol.com. Support!

-dave (Met Council)

***CIRCULATE WIDELY***

RACIST SLUMLORD Sues CAAAV for $20 Million
Chinatown Tenants & CAAAV Need Your Support

The tenants of 166 Elizabeth Street and the Chinatown Justice Project are
determined to build the fight against displacement in Chinatown, and we
need your support.

1. Join us at the PICKET LINE

EVERY WEDNESDAY, 4 to 5 pm
815 Broadway (near 12th Street), Manhattan

2. and at the DEMONSTRATION

THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 3:30 to 5 pm
also at 815 Broadway (near 12th Street), Manhattan

***
BACKGROUND:
On January 22, 2002, Benjamin Shaoul, landlord of 166 Elizabeth Street,
served CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities with a lawsuit for $20 million.
Shaoul, who has been trying to evict his low-income Chinese and Dominican
tenants in Chinatown through harassment and intimidation, alleges that
CAAAV has caused him "severe emotional distress"

166 Elizabeth Street is a 22-unit tenement building on the border between
Chinatown and SoHo. Until recently, it was occupied by low-income Chinese
and Dominican immigrants, and its previous owner failed to maintain the
building in habitable conditions and left it in a state of neglect.

In March 2000, 23-year old Benjamin Shaoul of Elizabeth Realty bought 166
Elizabeth Street. Since then, Shaoul has started eviction proceedings
against seven of the eleven Chinese tenants in the building, has pressured
all other tenants with buy-outs, didn't provide gas for more than four
months, and has converted vacant units into luxury housing, where new
tenants pay illegal rents, as high as $2000 - $3000 a month -- double or
triple the former rent.

Shaoul also forced his way into his tenants' homes, grabbed their wallets
to look for their IDs threatened to call the INS (Immigration and
Naturalization Service), and even accused the tenants of neglecting their
children and tried to have a state agency take away their kids.

Shaoul has also retaliated against tenants and organizers for their
organizing activities, and has repeatedly made racist remarks: "I have
nothing against Chinese people; I just don't want so many of them in my
building".

Through these tactics, Shaoul has been successful in displacing 50% of the
tenants in the building. But the remaining tenants are united and
resolved that they will not move. Their cases are currently pending in
housing court, and are expected to go to trial in the Spring of 2002.

This practice of converting once rent-regulated buildings into luxury
housing by harassing and evicting low-income tenants is on the rise at an
alarming rate in Lower Manhattan, and is part of a pattern of
gentrification city-wide.

Tenants Fight Back & Landlord Retaliates through Lawsuit:
Benjamin Shaoul is only 23 years old, and his activities are financed and
backed by his parents. His mother, co-owner of 166 Elizabeth Street, also
owns an antique store in Manhattan. To protest Benjamin Shaoul's actions
and demand that he stop all evictions against his tenants, the tenants of
166 Elizabeth Street and the Chinatown Justice Project of CAAAV hold
weekly pickets outside his parents' store.

In his lawsuit against CAAAV, Shaoul seeks an injunction restraining CAAAV
from holding the weekly pickets and distributing leaflets about his
actions. The lawsuit is not only frivolous and retaliatory, but a clear
challenge to the community's right to organize in support of tenants fighting
displacement.


Time to Escalate the Fight
The tenants of 166 Elizabeth Street and the Chinatown Justice Project are
determined to build the fight against displacement in Chinatown, and we
need your support.

1. Join us at the PICKET LINE

EVERY WEDNESDAY, 4 to 5 pm
815 Broadway (near 12th Street), Manhattan


2. and at the DEMONSTRATION

THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 3:30 to 5 pm
815 Broadway (near 12th Street), Manhattan

------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Gentrification & Chinatown's Housing Crisis
As NYC positions itself as the financial capital of the world, it has
caused a mass migration of young professionals into the city, which in
turn has increased the demand for luxury housing and other services in the
city. Landlords have taken advantage of this increase in demand, and have
tried to profit from this by displacing low-income tenants and local
businesses, converting their buildings into luxury housing and commercial
space, then renting them out to young professionals or upscale businesses
for double or triple the rent.


This is happening in many communities of color, including Chinatown,
which, with its close proximity to SoHo and the Financial District, has
become a popular hub for young professionals. As a result, many Chinatown
tenants face harassment and eviction from their landlords; garment
factories are being relocated to Brooklyn to make way for high tech firms;
street vendors and other local businesses also find it increasingly more
difficult to survive.


Chinatown Justice Project of CAAAV
CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities (CAAAV) builds the power of Asian
immigrant communities in NYC to combat racist violence. The Chinatown
Justice Project (CJP) is a program of CAAAV; it trains young people in
Chinatown to organize and protect the community from gentrification and
displacement. Generations of immigrants have worked hard to build
Chinatown, despite years of institutionalized racist attacks. Thus, CJP
believes, it is the responsibility of our generation to build on this
legacy and protect the community.

For more information, call 212 473 6485