By Eric Jankiewicz
A group of Ridgewood residents is collecting stories of people being evicted in the area for a series of documentaries aimed at galvanizing the neighborhood’s tenants who are beginning to be priced out of the community as real estate prices increase.
“The overall goal is to try and keep Ridgewood livable and affordable. But I’m seeing that chipped away everyday,” said Raquel Namuche, who is putting together the recordings .
“Ridgewood is changing very rapidly. And it’s happening at the cost of middle class residents.”
Namuche and several other residents created the Ridgewood Tenants Union last year to combat what they saw as predatory developers bullying tenants in rent-stabilized apartments into moving out of the area to make room for people who are willing to pay more money for apartments.
Standing on the border with Brooklyn, Ridgewood has been experiencing a wave of mostly younger people leaving Bushwick’s rising rental properties for the comparatively cheap rates just over the border in Queens.
The changes in demographics from working class families to largely single, more affluent residents has had positive impacts as well as negative one.
Gottscheer Hall’s management credits a new crowd with helping the tavern and German beer hall finally turn a profit after losing money for more than a decade.
But for longstanding residents the increased affluence and influx means tenants will have to pay more, according to reported rent prices, according to the Elliman Report put out by the real estate company Douglas Elliman, over the past several years.
“Ridgewood is the next big thing and the new owners are treating tenants like they don’t matter,” Namuche said.
Namuche and several others from the Ridgewood Tenants Union are creating focuses on seven rent-stabilized tenants who are being bullied by building owners in an attempt to get them to leave. Namuche first came up with the idea while she was handing out fliers in Ridgewood’s apartment buildings with information about the rights tenants have. As people opened up to her, they talked about the ways apartment owners and developers try to push them out.
These bullying methods, according to Namuche, include actions like not fixing lights in dark hallways, restricting heat in the winter and refusing to fix boilers that provide hot water.
“They’re being treated like garbage,” Namuche said. “This is really important to me. It’s stressful for me to watch people get evicted even though they’re rent stabilized.”
Reach reporter Eric Jankiewicz by e-mail at ejank