Tenants could lose 'hip-hop birthplace'

THE BRONX - For months tenants have fought the sale of an apartment building they say is the birthplace of hip-hop, but a judge has overturned a lawsuit that would block a sale.

A possible sale of the affordable housing building on Sedgwick Avenue has tenants worried that they won't be able to afford their apartments if the landlord sells the building.

Tenants successfully blocked the sale through a lawsuit, but a judge overturned that decision. Now the historic building could be sold to a high-profile real estate developer.

"Everything is a problem. With the rent increase, it's going to make it hard for me and my family," says Howard Menifield, a tenant.

Following the ruling, the landlord is expected to withdraw the building from the city's Mitchell-Lama housing program. Tenants say the sale could happen as early as next week.

"Some of these people have no where else to go," says Mark Wright. "I don't even know what I am going to do."

Tenants fear rent hikes, but also about the loss of hip-hop history. They say all the hard work and rallying to prevent a sale of the building was for nothing.

"We did all this stuff," Wright says. "Raising all of this money and we still got to get out or pay more rent - it's crazy."

Tenants and housing advocates are expected to meet Thursday to discuss the ruling and decide what's next for the hundreds of families that may be displaced as a result of a sale.

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