CROWN HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN — The community is continuing to rally behind the tenants of a Dean Street building who were nearly thrown out of their homes in what officials say was an illegal eviction attempt earlier this week.
A fundraiser for the tenants of 1214 Dean St. has raised nearly all of its $10,000 goal in the few days since it was set up following a stand-off between activists and the building's landlord on Tuesday.
Tenants from the nine-bedroom building, who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, say landlords had barged in unannounced the previous day and tried to kick them out to move their own family in.
"Their actions follow a year of tenant harassment and has put the health and welfare of these residents who are [people of color], queer, and trans at risk by locking them out during a pandemic," the fundraiser reads. "Their home has been their safe haven."
Activists and community members have been staked out at the home since Tuesday to help protect the tenants if the landlords return.
The fundraiser, which advocates has also been set up through a Venmo account for the tenants, aims to help those who live at 1214 Dean St. relocate to safe housing. Some of the funds will also go towards helping tenants whose medical recovery was disrupted by Tuesday's stand-off, according to organizers.
One of the tenants was recovering from emergency brain surgery when the landlord and maintenance worker barged into her room, according to Gothamist.
Activists said they plan to take legal action against the landlords, Gennaro Brooks-Church and ex-wife Loretta Gendville.
Tenants said that they first asked Brooks-Church and Gendville for a rent reduction when they found themselves out of work amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Like many New York City tenants, they then withheld the monthly payments, according to the reports.
Brooks-Church has told tenants he planned to sell the building, though the residents say they hadn't heard details from him until he barged in last week and again on Monday.
The situation comes a few weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's eviction moratorium expired, extending a less powerful version of the executive order until August that advocates feared would create mass evictions.
Brooks-Church, who owns a "living plant wall" business, has denied his tenant's allegations.
Gendville, who owns the property with Brooks-Church, is also a prominent Brooklyn business owner. She runs Area Kids, which has stores, yoga studios and vegan eateries in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Park Slope.
Activists are calling for their businesses to be shut down.