Displaced tenants of 85 Bowery whose personal belongings were publicly trashed curbside a few weeks ago stay in exile. This is four months after the city issued a complete vacate arrangement on the destabilized tenement. With homecoming delayed indefinitely as landlord Joseph Betesh finishes renovations, the tenants are currently planning to resume their hunger strike starting next week.

85 Bowery Tenants Hunger Strike, Feb. 2018

85 Bowery Tenants Hunger Strike, Feb. 2018 (via boweryboogie.com)

Displaced tenants of 85 Bowery whose personal belongings were publicly trashed curbside a few weeks ago stay in exile. This is four months after the city issued a complete vacate arrangement on the destabilized tenement. With homecoming delayed indefinitely as landlord Joseph Betesh finishes renovations, the tenants are currently planning to resume their hunger strike starting next week.

The hunger strike will resume if no warranty has been made to make sure they can return home, advocates of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and LES said in a public statement. This time, the hunger strike will be in front of City Hall to denounce Mayor de Blasio’s collusion with landlords like Joseph Betesh. De Blasio is also in hot water for his role in pushing pro developer home and zoning policies across the city. 

Families living at 85 Bowery were first vacated on January 18th . The cause was an unstable stairway, that the owner eventually replaced towards the end of March. Nevertheless, the renters were not able to return back home after the March 28 deadline had passed.

Discovery of asbestos during construction—or the announcement of its presence—pushed the deadline further indefinitely. However, tenant advocates are quick to point out the suspicious timing of the discovery just days before the deadline. It is still anyone’s guess as to when everybody can return to 85 Bowery.

85 Bowery Street

85 Bowery Street, via Google Maps

Below is the full statement from the Coalition:

The tenants of 85 Bowery–including babies and seniors–were displaced in the cold night of January 18, by their landlord Joseph Betesh in collaboration with City agencies with the excuse of making repairs. Since then, these families have been homeless, forced into cramped conditions. The Bowery tenants’ actions to go back home, including a 5-day hunger strike, made the Mayor’s Office oversee the repairs. Nevertheless, Mayor de Blasio not only has allowed Betesh to keep delaying the repair process, but has acquiesced in his most outrageous act–tossing the tenants’ belongings into dumpsters!




The mistreatment of the Bowery tenants is shocking but not surprising, as De Blasio has been pushing for pro-developer rezoning plans, while refusing to pass community-led rezoning plans like the Chinatown Working Group plan. As he makes this a city for the rich, landlords and developers are allowed to displace tenants and communities all across the city. For a mayor who prides himself on being a protector of working families and immigrant communities, this is shameful.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! On May 30th, the 85 Bowery tenants are resuming their hunger strike. They are fighting to go back home and are taking the lead to put an end to De Blasio’s displacement agenda.

The tenants and supporters demand that Mayor de Blasio:

  • Guarantee on paper a deadline by which the tenants can return home
  • Stop having City agencies evict tenants on behalf of landlords
  • End pro-developers displacement agenda; instead, pass community-led rezoning plans like the Chinatown Working Group plan
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