pictured above Michael Alsbrook and Michael Crosby.
While Governor Kathy Hochul recently extended New York State’s eviction moratorium until January15th, many landlords are using shady tactics to force tenants out against their will.
Such is the case at the Peace Bridge Apartments on Porter Avenue, where the new owners, along with the management company Power Play Partners, have given many tenants the minimum legal notice to leave their apartments.
Many of the residents are older, have disabilities, and receive rental assistance, which makes displacing them during an ongoing pandemic particularly cruel and harmful.
Activists at Queen City Workers Center have been working closely with tenants to hold meetings where people share stories and discuss ways to resist eviction, such as tenants Michael Alsbrook and Michael Crosby.
Mr. Alsbrook and Mr. Crosby, 69 and 70 years old respectively, were born and raised in Buffalo and attended East High School together. Mr. Crosby has lived at Peace Bridge Apartments for five years. Mr. Alsbrook for 24.
Mr. Alsbrook was one of the tenants who received a 90 day notice. He was told by the new management that they’d normally only give him a month, but “because [he] was such an excellent tenant they’d give [him] three” – this in spite of the fact that residents who have lived in a unit for longer than two years are legally entitled to 90 days notice of eviction.
According to local housing attorney Adam Bojak, some other tenants have been given less than the legally required notice. Alsbrook, a veteran and former employee of the federal government for over 40 years says, “these are supposed to be the best years of my life, but now I feel like I’m being persecuted for doing the right thing.”
“They don’t consider us as human beings, that’s what it boils down to.”
“Tenants in Buffalo have little to no rights” stated John Washington, Organizer and Advocate for Homes Guarantee. “Housing Court is an eviction mill that empowers landlords to extort and exploit the most vulnerable tenants. It is time for Good Cause Eviction and a Tenant Bill of Rights that gives tenants a chance for justice.”
Both Crosby and Alsbrook reported having experienced severe stress over their situation, along with their families, who have been assisting them in finding a new place to live. Mr. Alsbrook says his daughters, granddaughters, and ex-wife expressed concern over his lack of sleep and high stress -“And if she’s [his ex-wife] upset, you know it’s bad!”
Both said they’ve had difficulty finding anything nearby. According to Mr. Alsbrook “they want to gentrify this whole area… apartments are going from $900 to $2500 a month. Who can afford that?”.
“I think it’s inhumane, I think everyone should have the right to have affordable housing.”
We asked Mr. Crosby and Mr. Alsbrook if they had any parting remarks.
“I would say that the landlord should have been more concerned when he took over the building as to the policies he was presenting to people,” said Mr. Crosby. He should have been more concerned …and not just all of a sudden telling people to leave”
“This may not be affecting you (personally) now, but trust me, it may come sooner than you think,” warned Alsbrook. “This is a nationwide mission here… it would probably behoove you to stand with us, because you may need us to stand with you further down the road.”
If you are a tenant facing issues with your housing or in your workplace, or if you would like to support Mr. Alsbrook and Mr. Crosby and their fellow tenants, please contact the Queen City Workers Center, 716-259-1970 or firstname.lastname@example.org .