BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Jeremiah Aviles and Sharina Doyle have been living in a hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for three weeks.
“It’s intense,” said Doyle.
“We’re tired. I’m tired,” said Aviles.
Most of their belongings are in storage in Sunset Park, they do their laundry at a friend’s place in Bedford Stuyvesant and to save money they cook at another pal’s apartment in Harlem.
“I’m exhausted,” said Doyle, “I’m stressed because this is affecting my health.”
“You don’t know where you’re going to wake up,” said Aviles.
Their ordeal began last month in their Sunset Park apartment when they contacted the city because the landlord wouldn’t fix a water leak and growing mold. City inspectors came and ended up kicking the couple out, who had been living together there for more than five years.
“In such a haste,” Doyle explained how city officials handled the situation.
The city said it “issued a vacate order after finding they were living in an unsafe attic apartment that would put them in imminent danger during a fire.”
The city routinely issues such vacate orders when it finds people living in unsafe conditions, but it seems fewer of them have been issued during the pandemic.
The Red Cross says from March 22 to Aug 3, it helped 123 families who were ordered to vacate their homes. That’s just a quarter of the 475 families who had to be helped in the same period last year
Doyle and Aviles blame their eviction on lies they say the landlord told them for years.
NY1’s Michael Herzenberg knocked on the landlord’s door and asked the person inside, “Do you owe anything to your tenants for renting them an illegal apartment?”
There was someone home, but they didn’t answer.
“Someone needs to take responsibility,” said Aviles “we didn't do anything wrong.”
They say added expenses from the displacement on top of losing their jobs to the pandemic and losing loved ones to COVID-19 make this an overwhelming ordeal. They say they can’t afford to sign a new lease and that city programs that could help are mired in red tape.
“I’m getting a run around,” said Doyle, “I’m getting thrown to the side. I am getting, ‘I’ll get back to you,’ I’m getting, ‘call his number, call that number, sorry can’t help you.’
“The city has this illusion of concern for the residence of New York,” she said.
To be fair, the city does pay for the emergency hotel stays and while normally it’s just for a couple of nights, it has extended this couple’s stay until the end of the month because of the pandemic.
But with no income and no savings left they don’t know what they’ll do after that.