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Renters Protest Against Alleged Wrecking Of Brooklyn Apartments

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Renters were making noise in Brooklyn Tuesday night, demanding an end to slumlord tactics as they chose a building the called the worst of the worst for their protest.

As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported from Bushwick, longtime tenants of one rental building at 98 Linden St. said they refused to be jack-hammered, blasted or otherwise harassed out of their rent-stabilized apartments.

“I have two kids,” said tenant Michele Navas. “This isn’t justice. This shouldn’t be.”

After nine months of complaining, Navas was outside on Linden Street with lawyers and elected officials to put the strongest pressure yet on their landlord, Joel Israel, who owns at least nine other buildings.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) was blunt.

“This landlord should be sent to jail, and throw the keys away,” she said.

The tenants took him to court, charging he trashes the property to push out old renters — who pay less than $700 per month, and get new ones paying twice and even three times more.

CBS 2 got a tour of the building, which was slapped with 85 code violations — including giant holes in walls, and kitchens and bathrooms no one can use.

Israel’s attorney denied the allegations, saying the owners “intend to make all necessary repairs as quickly, safely and responsibly as possible.”

But the tenants’ attorneys weren’t buying it. They want stronger laws and tougher fine. And for now when landlords ignore court orders and stall, the city must step in and make repairs.

A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that is exactly what may happen in this case, saying, “When necessary, our Housing Department makes emergency repairs to dilapidated buildings.”

“This is criminal behavior. But nobody treats it like that, because it’s happening everywhere,” said Brooklyn Legal Services director Martin Needleman.

The residents said after all they have been through, they want to leave the building. But they said they won’t.

Brothers Joel and Aaron Israel own several Bushwick buildings. Ten Brooklyn buildings associated with Joel Israel have a total of 482 housing code violations between them, according to city records.

CBS 2’s Sonia Rincon reported last week that the Israel brothers almost never show up in court. A local city councilman trying to help the Bushwick tenants said he would love to talk to the Israel brothers, but he can’t find them either.

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