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Know Your Rights
Source: ABC 7 News
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Brooklyn tenants asking for repairs allegedly harassed, threatened with immigration call

BUSHWICK, Brooklyn (WABC) –Tenants in a building in Brooklyn claim their landlord has failed to make desperately needed repairs. They spoke out to Eyewitness News exclusively.

They claim when they complained, they were harassed, and told that immigration would be called on them.

“She said, ‘Oh you’re not afraid?’ and I said, ‘Go ahead, call them, I’m not afraid,'” said Juan Naula, Bushwick resident.

When the rents go for $1,100 to $2,000 a month, families don’t expect to be threatened when they request simple repairs, things like gas and hot water.

“They said they would call immigration if we kept insisting that they fix things,” Naula.

“All of the tenants that we’ve spoken to have complained about harassment, including threats of eviction, threats to call the police, and threats to call immigration,” said Jennie Stephens-Romero, Make the Road New York.

Threats that led tenants to call Make the Road New York for help dealing with the owners of 175 Wyckoff Avenue in Brooklyn.

“We’ve filed a 7A proceeding that asks the court to hire an administrator who then runs the building and is in charge of making all of the repairs to the building,” Stephens-Romero said.

Sophia Green says she has placed two wooden boards under her kitchen sink to keep the rats and roaches from coming up.

She says her toilet doesn’t flush, she never got the stove she was promised and hasn’t had hot water in five months.

She says the landlord told her if she doesn’t like it “you can move.”

Eyewitness News spoke with the owner over the phone, Adam Figueroa, he says he’s 81 years old and in failing health, and plans to sell the building, but his daughter Dianne Figueroa is responsible for it.

He deferred questions to her but we couldn’t reach her by phone.

According to the Department of Housing Development and Preservation, the building has more than $23,000 in fines, 99 open violations and is not properly registered with HPD.

“This is separate from immigration, this is just human rights, to have hot water, to have heat,” Naula said.

They are idle immigration threats that Naula says even made him laugh.

Now the owners have to appear in housing court next week, with the city threatening civil penalties if the repairs aren’t made.

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