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“The whole marshal encounter was surreal,” Andres Mares Muro said about Maria Montealegre’s eviction that went down late afternoon this past Monday. “She vomited afterwards, her kids wept lots.”
Muro, a former staff member of the Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center in Hamilton Heights, has been helping Montealegre, and her family, throughout her housing/eviction situation since the beginning, exchanged texts with the Voice throughout Monday evening informing us that after going to various shelters, and being turned away, Montealegre and her kids ended up in a Queens motel.
After we reported that neither Mirabal, Public Advocate, Urban Justice Center, Housing Preservation Department, nor Councilmember Robert Jackson, did little to help Montealegre avoid eviction or attain housing–let alone take over 1985 Amsterdam Ave. or hold Moshe Samovha accountable for his multiple housing violations, we got some angry phone calls.
We were told action is currently taking place, but what is being done exactly?
El Diario reported that Luis Tejada, director of Mirabal, would help Montealegre store her belongings in a storage unit.
Wiley Norvell, Press Secretary from the Office of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, said that they did not know about this case until two weeks ago, even though we initially reported about Montealegre and Samovha a month ago.
Both the Public Advocate and the office of Councilmember Robert Jackson conducted a formal interview with the tenants at 1985 Amsterdam Avenue last night in order to assess the situation in that building.
Norvell told the Voice that about 10 tenants attended last night’s meeting, which lasted about 2 hours.
“Tenants working with our office and Jackson’s to inventory unsafe conditions in their apartments which HPD can put to use. Lots of discussion of tenant rights–paying rent by check/money order to prove payment was made, what constitutes an illegal eviction and how to fight it, creating a paper-trail for future use in housing court, etc. A few specific issues/resolutions for specific tenants–Jackson’s office succeeded in getting a replacement refrigerator for a woman who needs to refrigerate medication for her infant, but whose refrigerator had been broken.”
Juan Ignacio Rosa, Director of Community Affairs at Office of Councilmember Robert Jackson, told the Voice that “the meeting in the lobby of the building went very well. The Councilmember came by and committed to stay on the side of the tenants for the long haul.”
Unfortunately for Montealegre and her family, because the homeless situation in New York City has risen in staggering numbers in the past year, securing shelter has proven to be difficult. However, the Public Advocate did find shelter for her, and her kids, last night.
“She’s not happy where they placed her,” Muro said, stating that Montealegre, and her four kids, have to share a space with five other families. “She feeling very daunted about finding a place to live.”
We reached out to Montealegre this afternoon and are waiting to hear back.
Norvell has just informed us of the following: Jackson’s office will be working with Maria to help find an apartment. We are working with her on school placement for her children.
Tenants in the building: Not all the tenants came down yesterday. Jackson’s staff is back there today to try and get into each apartment and take an inventory of all repairs needed in each apartment. They are also contacting the landlord/super, Con Ed, DOB, DOHMH, and HPD to also come out to the location within the next couple of weeks.