© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sound Bites: Tenant unions build pressure in New Haven

Happy Labor Day Weekend! 

A tenant union rallied outside New Haven City Hall this week to support more than a dozen union organizers who had been issued eviction orders by their mega-landlord. 

Tenant activists calling for regulation of rent hikes outside the White House.
Shedrick Pelt
Courtesy of People's Action
Tenant activists calling for regulation of rent hikes

“You have the power when you organize with your neighbors,” said Sarah Giovanniello, vice president of the Blake Street tenants’ union. “You have the power when you fight for your homes as a tenant union. We all have the power when we stand up together and fight.

Giovanniello wants their landlord, Ocean Management, to rescind the evictions, agree in writing not to do that again and return to the negotiating table to limit rent increases. The city has now recognized three tenant unions — which are all Ocean properties —  to give them the power to lodge collective complaints with the Fair Rent Commission.

The company did not return requests for comment.

Here’s a bite-sized look for what else we’re hearing:

An MS-13 member pleads guilty to notable murders in Brentwood. Enrique Portillo, a member of MS-13, faces possible life in prison after pleading guilty to racketeering and several killings, including the slaying of two teenage girls, Nisa Mickens, and Kayla Cuevas, and in 2016 at a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Gary Brown. The killing of these teens created an anti-gang movement in the Brentwood community, and caused an investigation by federal and county law enforcement. Portillo’s sentencing will be considered by the seriousness of the crime, as well as prior criminal history, including a mandatory minimum of 10 years on firearm charges.

Another New Haven tenant union forms. A group of tenants from a Quinnipiac Ave apartment building has joined the Connecticut Tenants Union to pressure their landlord Ocean Management to fix a recurring sewage problem. With the union being made official, tenants now have the ability to enlist a representative to advocate for their concerns to the Fair Rent Commission.

Yale University President Peter Salovey will step down at the end of the academic year. Salovey spent all of his academic career at Yale and will return to the university faculty in June 2024. Under his leadership, Yale experienced an increase in student diversity, financial gains, and growth in teaching and research space. Salovey is Yale’s 23rd president and has held the office since 2013.

Eversource is recovering from a cybersecurity attack.- Over 3,000 Eversource customers have had personal information stolen.. The hack did not directly affect the parent company,but did affect CLEAResult, an affiliated energy company. Customers enrolled in their solar incentive had Social Security Numbers stolen and have been provided identity protection as a result of the breach. Another 1, 800 customers enrolled in the electric vehicle incentive had account information and energy usage stolen, but not SSN. A spokesperson said Eversource will continue to review and take appropriate protective security measures.

The death of Nicholas Donofrio in South Carolina is a “justified homicide.” According to the Columbia Police Department, the decision is in line with the state Protection of Persons and Property Act, which allows a person to respond with violence if someone is entering their home. Investigators said Donofrio, 20, of Madison, Conn., approached the wrong house and attempted to forcefully open the door. He was shot on the front porch after he broke a window to reach the doorknob. Donofrio just moved down the street from where he was shot, where he attended the University of South Carolina.

A former resident of Hicksville sues the Town of Oyster Bay. Doina Almazon, a retired state court employee, is suing the town for the illegal demolition last year of her home, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The lawsuit seeks $4 million from the town and $3 million from Almazon’s former mortgage holder, JP Morgan Chase. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 11. Almazon argues that her rights were violated fighting for foreclosure. She has a record of legal battles within her town for more than a decade. Court records show reports that Almazon’s house was dangerous and should be demolished, but other reports show that the house was sound from Almazon’s consultant.

An officer was assaulted at New Haven Correctional Center. On Wednesday, an unnamed inmate punched the corrections officer in the chest. They were placed into solitary confinement. Two officers who responded to the attack did not seek medical attention after sustaining injuries. State Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros is concerned that this is the latest of four assaults on staff members at state prisons in the past week.

The cost of gas in Connecticut is down to around $3.80/gallon – less expensive than this time last year, but more than 10 cents higher than it was in July, according to AAA. The motor club recommends traveling before 7 a.m. and after 8 p.m. over the long weekend to avoid road congestion.

If you appreciated this story, please consider making a contribution. Listener support is what makes WSHU’s regional reporting, news from NPR, and classical music possible. Thank you!

Andrea Quiles is a fellow at WSHU.
Sara McGiff is a news intern at WSHU for the fall of 2023.