While most of the world was getting ready for Christmas Eve celebrations, the seniors and daycare center tenants of 211 Ainslie Street were getting served vacate orders by their new landlord.
The latest development in the Swinging Sixties / Small World saga took place Tuesday night, when a representative of Victor and Harry Einhorn, who took over as the building’s landlords earlier this month, served the seniors with a 31 day vacate order.
211 Ainslie has housed Swinging Sixties Senior Center and Small World Daycare for nearly four decades, as well as Community Board 1’s monthly meetings. Immediately following their purchase of the building, the landlords announced a substantial rent hike that if not met would result in the loss of the space to the community. Tuesday’s action shows that the new landlords appear to be following through on those threats.
In response to the rent hike, advocates hosted a rally last week to reassure seniors and toddlers that the building would remain a community space for years to come. Just five days later, according to Swinging Sixties Senior Center director John Pelle, the vacate order was delivered.
“The incident spoiled the good cheer of the Christmas Eve,” Pelle said. “Just before, they were eating a meal and singing carols. It was a joyous, happy time, and then this intimidating guy comes in and basically tells them that he’s closing their center. It was heartbreaking. He could have waited to serve these papers after Christmas. He did this Christmas Eve to send some kind of message to the seniors and to us.”
The daycare center was closed on Christmas Eve, so no toddlers witnessed the incident.
Community advocates, led by the St. Nick’s Alliance are still reviewing their legal actions, but the message they had was don’t worry. “We’re confident the seniors and toddlers will call 211 Ainslie home for years to come,” said a St. Nick’s spokesman. “There’s zero chance they’ll get thrown out after 31 days.”
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