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New Haven tenants union reaches tentative agreement with landlord over evictions

FILE: Late last month, hundreds of housing advocates marched through New Haven protesting Ocean Management.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
FILE: Late last month, hundreds of housing advocates marched through New Haven protesting Ocean Management.

Days after hundreds of people gathered in the heart of New Haven to protest a batch of no-fault evictions, a tentative agreement was reached between a tenants union and the landlord.

The Blake Street Tenants Union (BSTU) reached the deal with property manager, Ocean Management, which operates the apartment building located at 311 Blake Street.

The union said 16 notices to quit will be rescinded. Each resident who received a notice to quit is a member of the tenants union, which formed last fall.

Tenants who have existing cases against Ocean Management did not receive eviction notices, Blake Street Tenants Union Vice President Sarah Giovanniello said.

Residents believe the evictions were a retaliatory response to them resisting Ocean Management’s proposed 20% rent increase for certain apartments.

“Blake Street Tenant Union will now resume negotiations with the landlord company over the terms of their lease, rent increase amounts, and maintenance and communication standards,” according to a BSTU statement.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by the landlord company and the tenant union, according to the union. In the document, Ocean Management met the demands of the union, by rescinding the 16 notices to quit, reinstating the residents’ tenancies and vowing not to take any further similar eviction actions for three months.

Ocean Management was surprised by the release of the union’s statement and denies taking retaliatory action against the tenants union. The company also said it doesn’t view the matter in terms of “wins” and “losses,” as the union referred to the agreement as a “victory.”

“It is unfortunate that the union chooses to use such terminology, as unnecessary rhetoric jeopardizes the honest attempts made by Ocean Management to resolve the matter without resorting to legal action,” Ocean Management said in a statement.

Getting management to return to the bargaining table was a step in the right direction for the tenants union movement statewide, Connecticut Tenants Union Vice President Luke Melonakos-Harrison said.

“The tenant union demonstrated its strength and its resilience, and its actual legitimacy. And it's right to negotiate. And so the fact that that was the outcome of all this, for us really honestly feels like a step forward, a step in the right direction,” Melonakos-Harrison said.

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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