| South Bronx Squats Evicted
672 and 674 are the last two buildings left standing on 136th Street in the South Bronx. All the other buildings were leveled to “make room” for Robert Moses’ Bruckner Expressway. Allowed to become derelict, and then abandoned completely by their owner in the mid-1970s, these two buildings were taken over by a core group of tenants and urban homesteaders, who transformed it into the oasis known as ‘Casa Del Sol’ (House of the Sun). In 1985, New York City’s Department of Housing Development and Preservation declined to serve the residents of Casa Del Sol with an eviction order on the grounds that the residents had gained adverse possession of the buildings. Over the next decade, Casa Del Sol — in addition to providing affordable housing for over 50 low-income individuals and families — grew to become the home base for the Cherry Tree Association, the Casa Del Sol Spirituality Center, the Blackout Books Zine Library (since moved to ABC No Rio), and the United We Stand Garden.
Then Republican Rudolph Guiliani was elected Mayor of New York City, and he drastically changed the policies and personnel of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “Squatters” are no longer to be tolerated by the City. Fresh from his illegal demolition of the Fifth Street Homestead in Manhattan on February 12, 1997 — and emboldened by his re-election by a wide margin in the November 1997 election, during which the Fifth Street Homesteaders’ suit against the City did not come up once — Guiliani has recently turned his sights on Casa Del Sol. At the end of November, Guiliani’s HPD served it with an order to vacate on the grounds that certain devices used by some of the residents were deemed to be a fire hazard. Approximately ten days later, HPD arrived to carry out the order to vacate. They brought with them a veritable army of policemen, clad in riot gear, with helicopter support. In addition to forcibly evicting the residents (not without some difficulty and a couple of arrests), the police are preventing anyone from returning to their home. In the meantime, the NYPD has been removing some of the residents’ possessions.
A “Quality of Life” Campaign Gone Insane
At the moment, 60 people are homeless, and HPD shows no sign of revoking the vacate order, now that “the danger” has been neutralized. We are desperately concerned that the city administration will try to prevent Casa Del Sol’s residents from ever returning, and to demolish the building.
CASA DEL SOL NEEDS YOUR IMMEDIATE HELP!
Tell HPD head Richard T. Roberts that you want the vacate order revoked now. Call him at (212) 863-6100 and faxjam him at (212) 267-2565.
Call Gaston Silva, the head of the City Buildings Department at (212) 312-8106, and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer at (718) 590-3500.
MARCH AND DEMONSTRATE ON FRIDAY 12 DECEMBER 1997. Meet at the Casa (take the 6 train to Cypress Avenue and walk two blocks down to 136th Street) at 9 am. Bring your friends, voices, and drums! We will march to the Bronx Supreme Court at 851 Grand Concourse and 161st Street.
To contact Casa Del Sol:
Casa Del Sol
672-674 East 136th Street
South Bronx, New York City
Tel: (718) 292-6443
The Casa Del Sol Homepage