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Astoria residents facing eviction without due process

The church group that owns this Astoria building is evicting its low-income tenants in order to covert it into homeless shelter, officials say.
By Bill Parry

The low-income residents of a 35-unit Astoria apartment building have been told they must vacate their units by Dec. 31. The building, located at 31-65 46th St., is owned by the New York School of Urban Ministries at 31-10 47th St.

Rev. Peter DeArruda informed the residents that the building was sold and they must move out during a meeting on Nov. 17. Each resident also received a letter that was slipped under their doors which technically only represents the first step in an eviction process.

One lawmaker said the landlord is not following proper eviction proceedings

“It’s disturbing that people are being improperly asked to leave their homes just two weeks before the holidays,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “Two people have already moved out. They’re trying to make these people homeless with no real grounds. We’re spreading the word that this is not a proper eviction notice and it’s up to the landlord to follow the correct process.”

Several of the residents believe the building was sold to the city and will be converted into a homeless shelter. Gianaris has been told the city did not buy the property and there are no plans for a homeless shelter at that location.

“We have been told there is no plan, but there has been miscommunication in the past,” he said. “So we are a bit leery.”

Neither DeArruda nor his attorney, Ira Clair of White Plains, could be reached for comment.

Two city councilman have jumped into the fray, calling for a rally at the New York School of Urban Ministries on Monday at 1 p.m. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) will protest the “sudden mass eviction from the facility which will leave 39 residents homeless.”

Gianaris is concerned that because these tenants are low-income New Yorkers, they are not getting proper representation.

“Clearly something is going on and we are not getting the full story and that to me is disconcerting,” he said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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