James Blakely, a 98-year-old black U.S. Navy veteran of the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—lives with his wife Bonita in a studio apartment on Bergen Street in Bedford Stuyvesant that he claims was given to him rent free six years ago.
And he will be evicted unless he pays rental arrears of $24,130.
“In December of 1941 I got bombed by the Japanese,” says Blakely, wearing his USS St. Louis hat in his apartment. “This Christmas I’m facing eviction by the Black Veterans for Social Justice. Boy oh boy, what a difference 76 years makes.”
This, so that Bed Stuy can have more gentrification, even at the expense of a black American hero who survived Pearl Harbor, and who also served in combat aboard three different battleships in World War II in some of the fiercest battles in the Pacific theater.
According to The NY Daily News , The furnished apartment was arranged with the help of the nonprofit Black Veterans for Social Justice.
Blakely says he was told he’d never have to pay a dime for the apartment, decorated with red drapes, white walls and blue bedspread.
It seemed at the time that the ordained Baptist minister’s prayers had been answered.
Now, though, Rev. Blakely suspects his eviction is linked to the pending sale of the rent-stabilized Brooklyn building to a Manhattan developer.
A hearing for the case has been set for Brooklyn Housing Court on Jan. 4, four days before Blakely’s 98th birthday.
In the meantime, the war vet is left fretting over the prospect of losing his home.
“I lay down at night and don’t know if I’ll have a place to lay down tomorrow night. It’s not a pleasant feeling,” said Blakely.
“This is home. It’s a place to live, sleep and cook. I just want my one-bedroom apartment. That’s not a lot to ask.”
He paused. “Where would I go if I’m kicked out of here?”
PLEASE NOTE: The campaign goal was set at $50,000 to cover 3 years of market stabilized rent for a studio in Brooklyn (approx $1200 monthly), in addition to the balance in cash for new furnishings and day-to-day living expenses.
100% of the proceeds for Rev. Blakely will go to him and his wife Bonita directly, and we have been in touch with a personally known, reputable landlord in Brooklyn to secure a new apartment for the Blakelys.
Contact has also been made with The Blakelys, and they are now aware of this endeavor on their behalf.
Updates on progress are be posted as they're achieved.
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