Gloria Tellez-Tovar lives in a rent stabilized building for more than 20yrs. Her building is probably one of the few rent stabilized buildings that still exist in Bushwick. When her parents migrated from Mexico years ago they moved a lot, even back then it was very hard to find a place to live.
Her daughter has been in Bushwick her whole life, they love their neighborhood but feel how it's changing slowly. A lot of people who used to live there haven been forced out. They had no other choice after their rents increased to a point where they could no longer afford to stay. Public schools are dropping in enrollments and charters are starting to pop up, buildings are being renovated and prices are beyond of what people can afford. For Gloria, It has got out of control.
Gloria doesn’t know how long her building will stay rent stabilized, though she suspects maybe until the landlord decides to sell it or finds a way to deem it unsafe to live. “Where would we go if we have have been living there for 20 years?”, she says. The rent will increase and they don't have the means to be traveling elsewhere. Gloria can't work at the moment because she’s still recovering from an illness. When she first got sick, she started having trouble paying rent on time and was taken to court. The whole court process and trying to prevent an eviction prompted her to ask about resources for low income people. She is now actively trying to inform others about their rights and helping them get the repairs they desperately need.
At the rate how the neighborhood is changing, she doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to keep her apartment. The fear of gentrification is surreal, for now she’s able to stay and fight nonstop in court to get her apartment fixed.
If Gloria would have to move, she would have to go far from Bushwick because it's impossible for her to stay with the current prices. “I can't even imagine what would happen to those who are elderly or disable and have a fix income, where are they supposed to go? With so much development going on around the area, they are thinking more about condominiums and not in senior centers and deep affordable housing”, she says. Even with affordable housing they say people we don’t qualify simply because they don’t have the Credit score to match their criteria.
“After 20 wonderful years living in this neighborhood, the place that has seen me grow and create a family of my own, I see myself with one foot out the door because Governor Cuomo failed to address the housing crisis. Rents are increasing everywhere, and we can only dream for regulations that would allow tenants like me to hold our landlords accountable” Gloria states. The state needs to audit these landlords to see if they are in fact filing the right paperwork and giving the residents a chance regardless of immigration, financial status or vouchers they hold.
We need Governor Cuomo to stand up for immigrant families and people of color who are struggling, and who deserve the right to housing. We need strengthened and expanded tenants’ rights across New York State, plus investment in code enforcement and housing quality in New York State’s 2018 budget.