MFY Legal Services and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest have launched a campaign to shed light on environmental conditions in Bronx homes that negatively affect tenants’ health and safety. Known as the Campaign for Better Bronx Housing, the initiative is educating tenants on how to identify environmental hazards in the home and what to do when they find them.
The campaign kicked off on September 22, 2016 at the Bronx Library Center with a workshop for tenants co-sponsored by State Senator Gustavo Rivera. Additional workshops will be held every six weeks in various Bronx locations.
While tenants are quick to recognize typical problems in their apartments – lack of heat, leaks and plumbing problems, unpainted walls – larger problems may not be readily apparent. Mold, asbestos and lead are conditions that cause serious health problems and may be difficult for tenants to detect. These problems are often costly to fix and require expert intervention.
The Campaign’s goal is to empower tenants with knowledge so they can mobilize for action against nonresponsive landlords. Several tenants who attended the Campaign’s first workshop went back to their buildings determined to identify other tenants who were experiencing the same problems so they could take collective action.
When building-wide problems are identified, tenants have the option of taking their landlord to Housing Court if the problems are not corrected and they can secure free representation from MFY and NYLPI, two organizations with decades of experience in representing tenants. Legal representation is especially important for low-income and non-English speaking tenants who may be unfamiliar with the housing court system or who fear retaliation from landlords.
More information on the Campaign for Better Bronx Housing can be found in our op-ed in City Limits.