On Tuesday, Oct 21, eviction notices signed by Chelsea Hotel general manager Andrew Tilley were posted on the doors of a large number of residents, ordering them to pay up in three days or else face eviction proceedings. These are all long term residents, some of whom have lived here for up to twenty years, and some of whom owe as little as a months rent. In addition, some of these tenants are elderly and physically disabled.
Why a man who claims to be a friend to the tenants would move to carry out mass evictions on the eve of a depression is, quite frankly, beyond us. This action comes in stark contrast to the reassurances Tilley gave us at our Tenant’s Association meeting in August. Though promising no free ride, Tilley specifically stated that he would give tenants a phone call to discuss their bills with them if they fell slightly behind in their rent. But these eviction notices were apparently posted without a call or even a friendly reminder—which could have been dropped in tenants’ boxes with a minimum of effort. If Tilley’s aim was to spring on vulnerable tenants and catch them unawares with a frightening legal ultimatum, then he has certainly attained his goal.
The fact that these notices follow directly on the heels of an economic downturn is not likely a coincidence. Tilley is on a fishing expedition, casting his nets widely. Although he knows that most residents will be able to scrape together the funds necessary to stave off eviction, he is betting that a handful will not be able to do so. When so many hardworking people have lost a good chunk of their savings due to the disastrous collapse of the stock market, Tilley’s opportunistic action is truly morally reprehensible.
It’s probably not a coincidence either that this action comes at a time when we are starting to see increased activity on the construction front here at the hotel. Tilley wants desperately to renovate, and minority owner Marlene Krauss—who herself may have taken a recent bath on the stockmarket—is squeezing him to come up with some of the funds on his own. -- Ed Hamilton