BUSHWICK — Homeowners, tenants and businesses getting booted from their homes by the MTA when the agency tears down and rebuilds a section of the elevated M train line near Myrtle Avenue and Broadway vowed to fight the state tooth and nail to protect their homes.
The agency plans to displace the residents of seven homes, and two apartment buildings, a total of 26 individual apartments and two businesses — including Little MO (an Asian fusion restaurant and coffee house) and the bike shop Harvest Cyclery — in order to have room to reconstruct the "Bushwick Cut" that connects the aboveground J and Z train lines on Broadway to the M train that diverges onto Myrtle Avenue.
But approximately two dozen residents and business owners who the MTA says it needs to get out turned up for Wednesday night meeting at the Market Hotel, saying they were determined to stay put.
"I'm fighting for Little MO's, I'm fighting for the bicycle guys, for everybody," said Ada Hernandez, 48, who was born and raised on Ditmars Street and whose family owns two of the homes there that the MTA says it needs to empty. "[My uncle], he's been here since he was a teenager. His parents died in that house and he wants to die here too."
The displacement could take between six and ten months, but possibly longer, according to MTA documents. The agency says it will offer market rate buyouts to property and homeowners who may not want to wait.
Annette Perez, 46, who came with her brother who lives on the corner of Ditmars and Broadway, but whose building is not on the MTA's displacement list, said she worried the agency would expand their pool to neighboring houses once the project begins.
"What's to say later [they say], 'Oh my bad, this building isn't safe," Perez said.
Homeowners along Ditmars Avenue said they received letters from the MTA last week saying that the agency would set up individual meetings within the next two weeks begin arranging their "relocation." Renters said they were not contacted and had to learn of the action secondhand.
The letters told residents they have to be out by the summer of 2017, which coincides with when the MTA earlier said it had to shut down portions of the M line.
"We're talking about people who have lived in their homes for fifty years," said State Assembly Woman Maritza Davila, has pledged to push the MTA to reconsider the relocation plan.
"This is the United States of America, what's going on? We can't allow this to happen."
"The L train was a diversion," she said. "It was to come and do this."
At Wednesday night's meeting frenzied residents rattled off the litany of looming questions that the MTA's letter had left in its wake.
"What's the guarantee that the houses will be safe to go back and live in? What's the guarantee that nobody's going to break into those houses?" said Carmen Hernandez, whose sister Ada has lived on Ditmars Street since birth. "There's so many issues."
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the agency understands "the serious inconvenience that each of these individuals are likely to experience," adding that the agency had made "initial contact with the affected residents," though multiple renters who spoke with DNAinfo hadn't heard anything first hand from the agency.
"We will do everything we can to minimize the distress," said Kevin Ortiz. "This is vital work that needs to be done to rebuilt the viaduct."
These are the addresses that the MTA says it has to vacate, though some of these are vacant land:
Myrtle Avenue: 1168, 1158, 1156
Ditmars Street: 29, 27, 25, 23, 21, 19, 17, 15, 13, 11
Broadway: 979, 977, 975, 973, 971, 967, 969
Here's a map, the colored areas are buildings that will be impacted.