Tenants displaced in Morris Heights building collapse suing NYC and their landlords
It’s been nearly two months since a partial building collapse in Morris Heights changed the lives of many residents that called 1915 Billingsley Terrace home. Those tenants are now choosing to fight back.
The Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit against the building’s landlords and the city on behalf of the residents who are still living in shelters to this day.
“It’s a nightmare for all of us… not just the people whose side collapsed, but for everyone living in there,” says resident Ivan Schoop, one of the residents still living in a shelter. “When you lose all of your baby photos, when you lose all of your track medals… you can’t replace those things.”
Schoop and his family called their apartment at 1915 Billingsley Terrace home for over three decades.
The lawsuit will seek that the partial vacate order placed on the building be lifted and that necessary repairs be made to allow tenants to return. The Legal Aid Society says there are over 133 housing violations.
Tenants also allege that part of the lawsuit is to get justice for landlord harassment, vandalism to the apartments after the collapse, and a lack of gas, heat, and hot water in the building.
According to the Legal Aid Society, the first day for this case in court will be Feb. 20.
City Hall provided the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
"The safety of New Yorkers is our top priority, and we took swift action in response to the Billingsley building collapse to help impacted residents get back on their feet, providing them with safe places to stay and basic necessities.
We've also taken steps to hold the bad actors involved accountable, urging the building owners to make the necessary repairs and taking enforcement actions against the engineer responsible for these dangerous conditions. We will review the lawsuit."