The People Against Landlord Abuse & Tenant Exploitation, PALANTE Harlem, is a Harlem-based grass root organization whose sole mission is to reduce poverty and be an advocate for the safe housing conditions for the residents of Northern Manhattan. Led by its leader and founder Elisa Vasquez, PALANTE Harlem has earned the respect of the low-to-middle income housing residents as well as the elected officials that represent them.
That is why when they held an event to honor several of their staff members and volunteers last month, it was a standing room only affair. The 501-c not for profit organization paid reverence to those who have served the organization and the community with a commitment that definitely warranted acknowledgement.
During this event, PALANTE Harlem presented awards to four remarkable volunteers and community leaders including tenant leaders Charlie Hilario and Jose Ramos Hernandez; IT specialist and volunteer Syed Zaidi and local contractor Shamssudin Riza. These individuals have helped the organization save 27 buildings and helped keep over 900 residents in their homes over the years. Thanks to these individuals and scores of others like them, PALANTE has been able to give a voice to previously voiceless.
PALANTE Harlem has helped numerous Harlem and Northern Manhattan residents by taking absentee landlords to court in an attempt to force them to make necessary repairs to dilapidated buildings throughout the district.
Just to show you the respect that this organization has earned several elected official including Congressman Charles Rangel, Manhattan County Leader & Assemblyman Keith Wright, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Councilman Robert Jackson, District Leader April Tyler, and State Committee/District Leader Theresa Freeman were on hand to present citations and show their support for this important cause.
It is interesting to note that all staff members are volunteers and work diligently to see the organization’s mission is realized. “As a grassroots organization, we acknowledge volunteers’ effort to serve low and middle-income residents who may not have the necessary resources to effectively organize and hold unresponsively landlords accountable.” Vasquez emphasized during the program. PALANTE also presented the It’s Time….Award documentary which focuses on the struggles, success, and the housing environment in Northern Manhattan.
In a time of gentrification where several long time residents are being forced from their homes, we should thank God for organizations like PALANTE Harlem. Empowering those who feel powerless is exactly what is needed in Harlem and Northern Manhattan. Keep up the great work PALANE.