Black, Elderly Tenants Being Forced Out Of Apartments Again

September 15, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

Tenants of Harlem’s Riverton Houses, which include state assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, are suing the property’s owners for $10 million over illegal rent hikes. The lawsuit alleges that CWCapital Asset Management and Compass Rock Real Estate have been overcharging residents as part of their plan to force them out of their rent regulated homes and secure more profitable renters:

“It’s all economic,” said Mr. Wright, who was joined by Representative Charles B. Rangel, Councilwoman Inez E. Dickens and two dozen tenants. “It’s a campaign to get higher-paying tenants, never mind the original intent of what Riverton was about, or the fabric of the community.”

Randreta Ward-Evans, the president of the Riverton tenants’ association, said she had been inundated with complaints from tenants, especially older ones, who said they had received eviction notices for nonpayment of rent, despite mailing checks to the management office that, the tenants say, have gone uncashed.

The Riverton complex was built by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (now MetLife) along with Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town after World War II, but for many years the company prevented people of color from moving into the latter. Riverton became a middle class black enclave that has persisted to today.

The managing director of CWCapital Asset Management told the New York Times he was not ready to respond on the topic of the lawsuit, but he was not expecting it. “For the past five years we’ve enjoyed a collaborative and constructive relationship with both the assemblyman’s office and the tenant association,” he said. (Photo: Rose NYC)