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Ministry Accused Of Trying To Kick Out Low-Income Tenants To Build Homeless Shelter

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Ministry Accused Of Trying To Kick Out Low-Income Tenants To Build Homeless Shelter

An Astoria faith-based nonprofit is trying to pull something that doesn't seem very Christian, its tenants say.

The New York School of Urban Ministries has been trying to kick out its low-income residents in order to turn the three-story, 39-unit property into a homeless shelter, the New York Daily News reports.

Ministry EVP and pastor Peter DeArruda sent tenants letters demanding they vacate the building by the end of the year (now the end of January). Some of the letters threaten legal action. Three tenants have left, per the Daily News.

The Department of Homeless Services has refused to use the property. State Sen. Mike Gianaris was outraged, saying the ministry’s move was illegal and “especially cruel” during the holiday season. 

“The owner needs to back off,” he said. “They have no right to tell people that they need to leave their homes.”

The ministry's lawyer, Ira Chair, said the ministry can no longer afford the building’s current arrangement. Public, charitable use of the facility would be possible with a long-term lease with a third party, the attorney added, and said the group’s been helping residents relocate. [NYDN]