Eviction notices sent
Bain Co-op OK’s evictions
Tenants in the Bain Avenue apartments who are continuing to take part in the rent freeze that began on February 1st have been served with eviction notices. The notices went out on February 18, three days after a general meeting of tenants authorized them, in a 56 to 17 vote.
Ten apartments were served the notices: they are the only ones remaining on the freeze, which mustered the support of 29 of the 260 units at Bain at its peak. Tenants served with the notices have two weeks in which to pay their full rent; if they do not, they then become liable for eviction. The decision to evict if necessary came at a lengthy and sometimes emotional Tuesday night general meeting in which both sides argued their cases at length.
Supporters of the freeze, who have been paying rent at the old rate, withholding the 18% increase that went into effect February 1st, escalated their opposition to the rent hike into a challenge to the whole concept of co-operative ownership of the project. Supporters of the hike justify it on the grounds that it is necessary to ensure the transfer of ownership to the tenants, and the co-operative ownership would save tenants money in the long run. Supporters of the freeze dispute the benefits of ownership; they advocate ownership by the City, with tenants banding together in a strong tenants union. They are demanding a referendum on the issue of ownership, as well as another referendum on the rent freeze issue.
However, supporters of the co-op idea dismiss the call for a referendum as a red herring, a delaying tactic. They maintain that community general meetings are more representative and more democratic, and point to the fact that recent general meetings have had better turnouts than past referenda have had.
Tenants on the freeze charged that the Residents Council was out to drive anyone who disagreed with the concept out of the project. Co-op supporters, on the other hand, say that the rent freezers are out to sabotage the desires of the majority. They are especially incensed by the fact that a representative of the rent freeze committee sent a letter to the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation asking it to hold up the transfer of ownership to the tenants, and claiming that tenants did not really support the co-operative idea. According to members of the Residents Council, this letter, and another appeal to the Board of Directors of the City Non-Profit Housing Corporation, indicates that the rent freezers have had to turn to outside help after being unable to mobilize significant support for their actions at Bain itself.
Nevertheless, people speaking at the general meeting of Bain tenants on February 15 stressed that they did not want anyone to be booted out. Rather, they hoped that the eviction notices would force people to pay up and thus end the rent strike and the division it has brought. Several speakers expressed sentiments such as You dont have the right to impose your will on the majority, and I respect the right to dissent - the minority has rights - but not when it jeopardizes my home when I am in the majority.
Co-op ownership was once again discussed at the meeting, which again voted support for the concept. The rent freeze people characterize co-operative ownership as a way of exploiting yourself for the governments purpose. The co-op supporters see it as a means of gaining greater control over their community. They see the rent freezers as playing to peoples fear of controlling their own community, going back instead to asking for handouts from the government.