‘Communities Resist’ is Defending Tenants In opposition to Housing Discrimination and Harassment — Bushwick Each day

Natalie Colarossi


Communities Resist, a nonprofit authorized companies group serving Bushwick and different neighborhoods in North Brooklyn, has been working tirelessly to defend tenants for free of charge from housing discrimination and harassment from their landlords. 

The nonprofit is led by lawyer and Government Director, Lina Lee, and was developed over a 12 months in the past by a various staff of neighborhood legal professionals, organizers, advocates, and paralegals with ties to the neighborhoods they serve.

“Our complete mannequin of labor is representing and defending tenants from harassment and discrimination by their landlords by an organizing and neighborhood lawyering mannequin,” mentioned Shekar Krishnan, Chief Program Officer, lawyer, and co-founder of the nonprofit. 

Utilizing a system that mixes authorized technique with group group, Communities Resist has been actively defending the folks of North Brooklyn from predatory landlords that search to displace, abuse, and benefit from their tenants. 

The nonprofit was formally developed final June as a subset of neighborhood activism that had been occurring in North Brooklyn for over 50 years. However the founders of Communities Resist realized {that a} staff of individuals of colour from the world can be essential to proceed the battle in opposition to housing injustice. 

“[We founded Communities Resist] from the angle that these of us doing the work seem like and are available from the communities that we serve,” Krishnan mentioned. 

“We imagine strongly that housing justice is a matter of racial justice, and that housing justice should essentially advance racial, gender, and financial justice,” he continued. 

Thus far, it is just certainly one of only a few authorized companies in New York Metropolis with a lady of colour in an Government Director position, Krishnan informed Bushwick Each day. 

Millie Sandoval, the Director of Organizing and fellow co-founder of the nonprofit, has been residing in Bushwick for greater than 5 a long time, and has skilled the trials of gentrification and tenant harassment first-hand. 

“Not solely can I sympathize, however I can empathize with our shoppers as an individual of colour, and a lady who grew up in an economically deprived neighborhood,” she mentioned. 

“Now it’s so gentrified that we have now pockets of parents hiding as a result of they’re afraid to be displaced by what’s coming.” 

In an effort to assist tenants – a lot of whom are deprived folks of colour or immigrants with language limitations – Sandoval will go door to door in buildings which have been dropped at her consideration with housing violations so as to kind a united group, referred to as a tenant affiliation. 

Tenant Affiliation fashioned at 1362 Decatur Avenue. Picture supplied by Communities Resist. 

Throughout this stage of her work, Sandoval will meet with tenants recurrently to gather data on the extent of harassment or discrimination being dedicated. As soon as the tenant affiliation is totally fashioned, legal professionals will be a part of the combo and start strategizing one of the best plan of authorized motion. 

“We actually imagine that tenants are most protected once they’re preventing collectively to group in opposition to these forces of harassment by their landlords, or displacement due to gentrification,” mentioned Krishnan. 

In early August, State Senator Julia Salazar joined forces with Communities Resist to arrange with tenants going through harassment outdoors of 181 Palmetto.

In only one 12 months of labor, Communities Resist estimates it has served over 100 buildings and 1000 particular person tenants in Bushwick, East New York, Crown Heights, Cypress Hills, and extra North Brooklyn neighborhoods. 

The nonprofit has efficiently stripped abusive landlords of their constructing rights, gone on hire strike, prevented the tear down of helpful neighborhood companies, and halted rezoning legal guidelines that might harmfully have an effect on neighborhoods. 

Now, within the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Communities Resist has expanded their companies to work across the clock so as to assist those that face meals insecurity, eviction, and joblessness.

“The work has quadrupled by the pandemic,” mentioned Sandoval. “Housing is only one a part of an individual’s life. I can’t simply say ‘OK the day is over’ and grasp up my hat. My hat is consistently on.”

To assist tenants perceive present housing legal guidelines in the course of the pandemic, the nonprofit has been hosting virtual workshops every two weeks the place they reply questions and supply housing steerage. 

“Housing is likely one of the most pressing crises in our metropolis proper now, and we’re seeing all poor communities of colour being rezoned by the town, or by non-public builders which are forcing tenants out from their properties and neighborhoods which have been residence to them for therefore lengthy,” mentioned Krishnan. 

“These crises which have at all times existed are all going to get even worse due to how a lot COVID-19 has achieved to devastate communities of colour.”

Communities Resist is a non-profit group serving North Brooklyn for free of charge to tenants. When you or somebody you understand wants the companies of this group for defense from housing discrimintation or harassment, you could find their contact data here. 

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