Images by Zack Huffman
The battle for Chinatown has expanded beyond city limits.
Last week the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) carried their fight over affordable housing in Boston all the way to the front steps of the Quincy developer who is attempting to proceed with plans that will leave some of his tenants on Hudson Street homeless.
Residents of 101 and 103 Hudson set up camp in front of the law offices of Matera, Vopat, Matera & Johnson, which is also the home of First Suffolk LLC, a real estate investment company that recently purchased the homes that are now in contention.
Those affected, many of whom do not speak English and rely on affordable housing to stay in Chinatown so that they have access to work, are caught in a storm of redevelopment, some of which is taking place directly across the street from them.
With the influx of luxury and market-rate housing in the Chinatown area, more and more developers are slobbering over occupied buildings that can be converted into high-rises for hefty profits.
Soon after First Suffolk acquired 103 Hudson, residents were bombarded with efforts to get them out of the building, according to Mark Liu, the programs and operating director at the CPA.
“They intimidated tenants and tried to change the locks,” said Liu. “They sledgehammered doors open.”
In many cases, First Suffolk claimed that it wanted to make overdue repairs to the building. The company pulled permits for 103 Hudson Street to replace the fire alarms, rewire the building, and update gas lines, according to the Department of Inspectional Services, but the permits are only good until late July, and it remains unclear whether or not the work has actually started, according to Liu.
Such actions make the new owners seem like shitty slumlord caricatures. But when reached for comment, the firm declined to comment. First Suffolk bought 101 Hudson Street for $658,000, according to the register of deeds, which is a discount from the city’s assessed value of the property at $807,000.
In the meantime, the tenants were finally kicked out and relocated to a hotel in Quincy. Their access to public transportation is limited, as are their prospects moving forward. First Suffolk bought the building on April 24 and wasted little time before commencing with apparent shenanigans. It seems the new landlord has already stopped paying for water. A shut off notice left on the first floor of the building gives May 11 as a payment deadline before the property goes dry.
“If they have enough money to buy the building, why don’t they pay the water bill?” asked Yu Yannong, of the CPA. Added Liu: “The landlord is again using different tactics to get residents out of buildings … He said he wants to buy up the whole block and build a high rise.”