Community rallies support for tenants displaced in 2023 apartment building fire in Sunnyside, Queens

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Sunday, June 9, 2024
Community rallies in support of fire victims in Queens
New York City Councilwoman Julie Won led the rally outside the Sunnyside building where the fire took place.

SUNNYSIDE, Queens (WABC) -- Community members rallied together on Saturday to show their support for tenants displaced in last year's massive apartment building fire in Sunnyside.

New York City Council Member Julie Won led the rally outside the building at 43-09 47th Ave., which remains uninhabitable.

The five-alarm fire took place on Dec. 20, and FDNY Fire Marshals determined that a renovation contractor using an unauthorized blowtorch to remove lead paint started the blaze.

Hundreds of residents lost their homes to the raging inferno that occurred just before Christmas.

The building's landlord, A&E Real Estate, helped relocate many tenants to other buildings at the same rent rate. But now the landlord wants to end the assistance.

"We have a tenant who has been living and sleeping on the subway system. We have tenants who are overcrowding and continuing to live with family because they have nowhere to go," Won said.

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CeFaan Kim spoke to some residents forced to clean out their belongings.

Also in attendance at Saturday's rally was House Rep. Nydia Velázquez, who spoke about the power of the community.

"This is a matter of justice, and you got to understand that when we fight together, we win," Velázquez said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for A&E Real Estate said, "We have made steady progress stabilizing the building, but the damage was severe and there are no quick fixes here. We have been transparent with tenants about those challenges, and that the emergency hotel stays and discounted apartments we provided after the fire were a temporary solution to give everyone breathing room as they made longer-term plans. Ultimately, the insurance process will determine how to compensate all parties from the losses in the fire."

Councilwoman Won also wants the landlord to pay residents $8 million in damages.

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