A refugee from another time receives an eviction notice (2023)

A refugee from another time receives an eviction notice (1)

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An 82-year-old immigrant from Ukraine has lived in a Manhattan hotel for decades. Now the owners want to throw it out - while earning millions from the city to accommodate others.

William Mackiw at his home at the Stewart Hotel: a rent-stabilized one-bedroom apartment that costs $865 a month.Loan...

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ByI Barry'egoIPhotographs by Kirsten Luce

The hardships of the many can be lucrative for the few. Take the old Stewart Hotel in Manhattan, which is used as temporary housing for some of the tens of thousands of migrants who have come north to New York City seeking refuge.

The city pays $200 a night for 611 rooms in a nearly 100-year-old hotel. That works out to about $6,000 a month for each room, or about $3.66 million a month for hotel owners.

While they collect favorable rates for a fully booked hotel, the owners are also seeking to evict the man paying $865 a month for room 1810: William Mackiw, who has lived there for so long that no one knows when he first appeared. Decades have passed.

At some point, he moved in with the tenant of the rent-stabilized room, his aunt Louise. At some point she died. Decades have passed again.

(Video) What to do when served an Eviction Notice

And he just continued to pay a modest rent from what he earned as a waiter in regular fee restaurants. Your Howard Johnson. Your Charlie's steak. Month after month, year after year.

Mr. Mackiw, 82, a retired man, lives among the relics of a lonely life rooted in the past. Piles of old VHS and DVD movies. Threadbare shirts hanging over a discolored tub. Broken TV. A dust-covered rotary telephone. Four pairs of black boots clustered on the floor like a flock of crows.

In his limited world, whose narrow boundaries include the church and the market square, he lived mostly invisible. Until a few months ago someone knocked on his door and handed him a document. His message:

“It's time to leave you,” recalled Mr. Mackiw.

For 10 days.



With this, the economic, social, and geopolitical pressures of the larger world have combined to turn a tiny speck of it upside down, and not for the first time. Mr. Mackiw was also once a refugee-immigrant. He needed shelter then, and he may need it again soon.

In November 1949, General C.C. The Ballou, a reconfigured military transport ship with amenities that included a children's playroom, has left the German port of Bremerhaven. On board were 1,265 of the many millions of Europeans displaced by the upheaval of World War II.

Celestyn and Sofia Mackiw and their two sons, 12-year-old Siegfried and 9-year-old Wilhelm, were among the passengers, according to records kept by the Center for Migration Research in New York. Germany, where the displaced, persecuted and traumatized received food, clothing and medical care.

(Video) Facing Eviction (full documentary) | FRONTLINE

When asked why his family left Europe, Mackiw replied simply: "Because of the war." His fading memory brings back only flashes of his interrupted childhood: the horror of bombs; providing food to Jews hidden by his mother; lives in camps.

After arriving in the United States, the Mackivs settled in a detached building in the East Village district, sometimes called Little Ukraine. He remembers his mother as "an amazing woman" and his father as a brave window cleaner who "didn't bother with belts".

The family later moved to Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Mr. Mackiw attended the local Mechanical and Metallurgy High School, became an American citizen in 1959, and worked a number of manual jobs before becoming a full-time waiter.

"I used to work in restaurants," he said.

Among them was Joe Franklin's Memory Lane, a gathering place for artists known and yet to be discovered in the Theater District. Everyone was leaning towards Mr. Franklin, a longtime radio and television host known for his knowledge of entertainment history.

"King of Nostalgia" proclaimed his business cards, one of which lies amidst the clutter of Room 1810. He died in 2015.

When Mr. Franklin sat at the courts with the likes of Soupy Sales and "Professor" Irwin Corey - you should look for them - his favorite waiter was Mr. Mackiw.

“Joe specifically sat in the section William was supposed to serve,” recalls Arnold Wachtel, a client of Joe Franklin who once ran Times Square gift and novelty stores such as the Fun Emporium and the Funny Store. "They reminisced about old movies and traded copies of movies on videotapes and DVDs."

At the end of his shift, the diminutive waiter would put his hat on his bald head and return to Stewart at Seventh Avenue and 31st Street, back to Room 1810.

The 31-story hotel opened in 1929 as the Hotel Governor Clinton - a smaller version of its great neighbor, the Hotel Pennsylvania - and has experienced the usual ups and downs and changes in the hotel industry. But some aspects seemed permanent, from the Art Deco accents in the lobby to the few tenants in the rooms above.


A refugee from another time receives an eviction notice (2)

Details are unclear, but a few decades ago, perhaps as early as the 1970s, retired seamstress Louise Hirschfeld moved into the 1810s, a one-bedroom apartment with a bathroom and kitchenette. She was the sister of Mr. Mackiw's mother, Sofia.

Mackiw's date of arrival was lost in the Manhattan mists of time. He slept on the couch while his aunt slept in the bed. She then went to France, where her son and grandchildren lived and where she died at the age of 81. In 1995.

Mr. Mackiw continued to pay his monthly rent by cash or money order and collect receipts bearing the name of his deceased aunt. When he wasn't sitting in the lobby, he wasn't shopping on Ninth Avenue or praying at St. Francis of Assisi around the corner, he sat in his room and watched films from Mackiw's extensive collection.

These escape portals are scattered in dozens on the floor. "King Kong". "Broken dart." "It comes from outer space." "To have and not to have". And his favorite: Gone with the Wind.

His routine did not change over time, the city evolved and the hotel passed under new owners. In 2016, the building was bought by a limited liability company whose partners refused last week through their lawyer to identify themselves. City records show that two of them are Isaac Chetrit, who owns the AB & Sons investment group with his brother Eli, and Ray Yadidi, who owns the real estate firm Sioni Group with his brother Jack.

The first threat to the island world of Mackiwa came early last year, when the owners informed half a dozen permanent residents that they would provide relocation assistance while the building was undergoing a major renovation. The plan was to close the hotel and turn it into a residential building with 625 apartments.

Apparently, then the owners discovered that it was Mr. Mackiw, and not the late. Louise Hirschfeld, occupies room 1810. Even though she personally transfers the rent every month for years.

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After this revelation, Mackiw said, hotel representatives repeatedly knocked on his door to tell him in a firm and threatening way that he had to leave the room. The hotel denies ever harassing him.

At the same time, a humanitarian crisis was unfolding in New York as thousands of Central and South American migrants arrived to escape crime and economic uncertainty. Many arrived by bus, courtesy of the Republican governors of Arizona and Texas, who wanted to give the Northeast a taste of everyday life along the southern border.

The hotel's owners shelved redevelopment plans and in mid-September agreed to let the city rent half of the building, including 300 rooms, for use as a reception center and shelter for asylum seekers.

It wasn't enough. In mid-December, the city signed a new deal to take de facto control of the entire hotel, including the lobby, ballroom, and 611 rooms (price $200 per night). The deal, which provided temporary housing for some 2,000 migrants, did not include several housing units occupied by permanent residents.

In the same week in September that the hotel began renting rooms to the city at market rates, a lawsuit server handed a 10-day eviction notice to a man who answered a knock on the door of room 1810. The server described Mr. Mackiw as follows:

Height: Five feet five.

Weight: 110 pounds.

Approximate age: 83 years.

Hair: Hat.

At this point, a distraught Mr. Mackiw contacted Mr. Wachtel, a former client of Joe Franklin, who had not heard from him for several years. But as the son of a Holocaust survivor, Wachtel was moved by the old man's ordeal - "The man is terrified" - and the family's memories of hiding Jews during the war.

“He's a nice guy,” said Mr. Wachtel. "Pray for me and my family."

Mr. Wachtel telephoned, sent e-mails and arranged for Mr. Mackiw's power of attorney. He also contacted the Goddard Riverside Law Project, which specializes in the rights of single-room tenants. Agreed to take on the case of the Housing Court of CYH Manhattan LLC v. William Mackiw a/k/a Bill Mackiw.

Daniel Evans, an attorney for Goddard Riverside, said that under the city's rent stabilization codes, Mr. Mackiw acquired the rights and protections of a permanent S.R.O. resident after spending six months in an apartment. There is no doubt that his stay was much longer than six months - much, much longer.

"It's outrageous that they brought this type of case after Mr Mackiw lived there for 40 years," Evans said. “Especially when he pays the rent himself at the front desk. They know he's there.

In a phone call, Lisa Faham-Selzer, a lawyer representing the owners, declined to answer a number of questions, including how long Mr Mackiw had lived at the hotel and why the hotel had been taking payments from him for decades.

"It's a strong case with very, very clear allegations," she said.

Mention of these allegations is contained in a recent lawsuit in which the owners allege that Mr. Mackiw "had been posing as Louise Hirschfeld for decades." They claim that in doing so, he "committed fraud."

The case is pending. Court records do not indicate eviction proceedings initiated against any of the other permanent tenants of the hotel, although one moved out after receiving a $10,000 buyout.


For now, Mr. Mackiw, a refugee from another time, still lives among today's refugees, worrying to tears about his future.

He resides mostly in Room 1810, his longtime home. There, on a recent visit, the only food seemed to be milk, a few slices of cheese, peanut butter, a box of Cheerios, a packet of vanilla Oreos, and a couple of Hershey chocolate bars.

"Do you want Hershey?" asked the old waiter.

Karen Zraick contributed the report and Alain Delaquérière contributed to the research.

Sound produced by Parin Behrooz.

(Video) Rent crisis: is it time to get rid of landlords?

Dan Barry is a longtime reporter and columnist who has written both the This Land and About New York columns. He is the author of several books and writes on countless topics, including New York City, sports, culture, and the nation. @Dan Barry NOW Facebook

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(Video) How to Answer Your Eviction for Non Payment of Rent


How do I respond to an unlawful detainer? ›

To respond to the eviction case, you start with filling out an Answer or other response forms. Then, you file them with the court. This gives you the chance to tell the judge if there are any legal reasons your landlord can't evict you and tell your side of the story at a court trial.

How do I respond to an eviction notice in Nevada? ›

Information for Residential Tenants

If you're a tenant, and you have been served a Seven-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, you may file an Affidavit/Answer to contest the eviction. The Affidavit/Answer must be filed with the court within seven (7) judicial days following service of the eviction notice.

What happens when the sheriff comes to evict you in California? ›

Any property of the tenant left on the premises will be turned over to the landlord for storage. After the eviction is completed, the Sheriff will provide the landlord with a receipt for possession and send the writ together the Sheriff's return to the issuing court. A proof of service is not issued.

How do I fight an eviction in Michigan? ›

Going to Court to Regain Possession

You must file your case within 90 days of your landlord's illegal eviction or when you realized you could not reenter your property. If you win the case, the court will enter an order that says the landlord must let you move back in.

Is an unlawful detainer the same as an eviction in California? ›

What is an Unlawful Detainer? An Unlawful Detainer, more commonly known as an eviction, is used when a landlord wants to get tenants out of a rental property - either commercial or residential. Only a sheriff can evict someone.

How do I settle an unlawful detainer in California? ›

You must complete a Notice of Settlement (CM-200) and file the form with the court to make your notification. If you are scheduled for a trial, you must still attend if you did not file the Notice of Settlement at least 10 days before the trial. You may tell the court about your settlement at that time.

How do I fight an eviction in Nevada? ›

Talk to Your Landlord

You may be able to come to an agreement without going to court. An eviction will cost both of you money (as well as time), and your landlord may be willing to stop the eviction if you agree to certain terms, such as paying rent you owe or stopping behavior that violates the lease.

How long do you have to move out after eviction in Nevada? ›

Nevada law requires a thirty-day notice to the tenant (or a seven-day notice if the tenant pays rent weekly), followed by a second five-day Notice to Quit for Unlawful Detainer (after the first notice period has elapsed) instructing the tenant to leave because tenant's presence is now unlawful.

How do I get an eviction removed in Nevada? ›

In other cases, the tenant must do something to have the eviction sealed. If the former landlord will agree to seal the eviction, then you can file a Stipulation to Seal that both you and your landlord sign. Otherwise the tenant must file a motion in the eviction case to seal an eviction record.

How long does it take for an eviction to come off your record in California? ›

Evictions will not appear on your credit report, but they may appear on tenant screening reports for seven years. If you are in the process of applying for a lease, ask the landlord or leasing company to tell you the name of the tenant screening company they use.

What happens after a 3 day notice to pay or quit in California? ›

If the tenant does not pay the rent within 3 days of receiving the 3-day period, he or she must still move out in 30 days. If the tenant does not move out after the 30 days, then the landlord has to file an unlawful detainer case.

What is the new eviction law in California? ›

The new policy will block evictions until February 2024 for tenants who have unauthorized pets or who added residents who aren't listed on leases. Landlords will also have to serve a 30-day “notice to cure” before evicting a tenant for unauthorized occupants or pets, giving the tenant the opportunity to fix the issue.

Can an eviction be stopped in Michigan? ›

Talk to Your Landlord

You may be able to come to an agreement without going to court. An eviction will cost both of you money (as well as time), and your landlord may be willing to stop the eviction if you agree to certain terms, such as paying rent you owe or stopping behavior that violates the lease.

How fast can you be evicted in Michigan? ›

The amount of time you have to act depends on the reason for the eviction. 30 days' notice is required if it's been more than 30 days since the lease ended. Notice may not be required if it's been less than 30 days. Mobile Home Evictions - Special Rules.

What happens after order of eviction in Michigan? ›

At the end of an eviction trial, the judge or jury will decide what should happen. They will decide whether you have to move, if you owe any money, and if so, how much. That decision is based on who has the most believable evidence. Sometimes there can be a mixed result.

How much does it cost to respond to an unlawful detainer in California? ›

You'll need to pay a fee of $240-$450 to the clerk when you file your forms. If you can't afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver. Each tenant named in the Answer needs to pay a filing fee or ask for a fee waiver.

How long do I have to respond to an unlawful detainer in California? ›

After your tenant is served the Summons and Complaint forms, they have 5 days to file a response with the court. The 5 days don't include Saturdays, Sundays, or court holidays.

Which remedy of unlawful detainer is most commonly used by offended? ›

The remedy of unlawful detainer would be used by the offended: lessor.

What happens after you file an answer to unlawful detainer California? ›

What Happens Next? After the tenant files the “Answer,” either the landlord or the tenant can request a court date. After the request, the court will set a court date and send a notice to the parties. Please see our referral list for legal assistance or representation on your eviction matter.


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