Another battle in the never-ending war between Man and Landlord was fought this morning, when a large collection of young artists and hipsters gathered in front of 17-17 Troutman Street, a warehouse in Bushwick, to protest their abrupt eviction from the building. On October 18, they said, they were given ten hours' notice to collect whatever belongings they could carry down the stairs (the service elevators had already been cut out) before the Fire Department broke down doors with sledgehammers and ordered them outside. Their landlord, David Steinberg, has been scarce since the trouble began. “I’ve talked to people who have talked to him,” ex-tenant Evan Greenfield said. “But he hasn’t returned my calls. He says he doesn’t want us to vilify him.” That hope was probably a tad unrealistic, as Steinberg had been signing up new leases mere days before the city deemed the building uninhabitable, citing fire-code violations.
“I personally have been left without a home or a place to work,” said Brian Faucette, a lanky blond artist who lived in the building. “But above all else I have been left without any confidence in the city of New York to care for its inhabitants’ most basic needs.”
Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith offered his own appeal to the city and comforted former Troutman resident Claribel Pichardo as she teared up in front of a camera from News 9. “Most of our property will remain [inside] until someone helps us," she said. "All we’re asking is to give us more time to find another home. We’re living on couches, some of us are sleeping in cars, there are people in shelters. We are tax-payers! We all have jobs. There is no reason we’re living in the streets.”
Together, the tenants unrolled a resident’s painting, one that depicted the recent turmoil, and draped it over the barricades that cut them off from the entryway. A handful of bored policemen idled in the street. “I think it’s about their eviction,” one cop explained to his colleague as they looked over the canvas. “Or the community or something.” —Annsley Chapman