New York State Senator Kevin Parker, Assemblymember Monique Chandler-Waterman, and Councilmember Farah N. Louis, on July 28, joined scores of residents in front of the Flatbush Gardens Management office, 3301 Foster Ave., Brooklyn, to denounce unhealthy living conditions in the housing complex.
Sen. Parker said decent, quality, affordable, housing is a basic human right in the state of New York, and said “it is detestable that landlords have not provided residents who pay their rent every month with better living conditions.”
“I am here to support tenants in their fight for the upkeep of their apartments,” said the politician, while addressing years-long complaints of rat infestation, lack of security, dirty buildings, unhygienic dwellings, filthy basements, loitering and trespassing from strangers, inequitable rent payment system, and a long list of other grievances.
The politician who is up for re-election in his 21st District, was surrounded by angry tenants, who said they were dissatisfied that he was not doing enough to help their situations. He in turn, reassured the mob, that he had reached out to the landlord, and management company to negotiate ways to get complains resolved expeditiously.
“We are in this together, if we stay together, and work together then things can get resolved, let’s keep the fight going, and understand that myself and my colleagues will be with you every step of the way,” promised Sen. Parker.
Recently elected Assemblymember Monique Chandler-Waterman, of District 58, who replaced longtime Assemblymember Nick Perry, in turn, blasted the “slumlords,” and management company for the deplorable conditions under which tenants continue to live, noting the importance of elected officials organizing to fight for tenants.
“I am so proud that everyone is here. Tenant leader of Flatbush Gardens, Marietta Smalls, the tenant association, and elected officials. The power is in the people. It is a basic human right to have proper living conditions,” she noted, and questioned “why are our people living in buildings, and traversing subway stations infested with rats?”
“It is a health condition and residents and their children are being impacted mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It has become a major issue in the community,” said Chandler-Waterman. She argued that tenants in other communities live in better conditions, and stated, that elected officials and community stakeholders will stand strong and united together to make sure their voices are heard for better living conditions.
The fired-up lawmaker demanded these issues are addressed for the more than 10,000 people, who dwell in more than 2000 apartments in 59 buildings, in Flatbush Gardens, where she said the oppressive conditions have become progressively worse over the years. She observed this during a walk-through of the sewer and rat-infested floors of the laundromat.
“We can’t talk about public safety and gun violence and not talk about these issues before hand. It’s a city, federal, and state issue. Some people work, two or three jobs and come home to these conditions. They had to fight through many situations like COVID. It is very commendable, that some come out today to protest, others had to work. Holistically, everybody must be at the table and continue fighting,” said the politician.
Councilmember Farah N. Louis, District 45th said the situation become progressively worse over the years with the change of management companies that have been inconsistent with upkeeping the buildings.
She said right before the pandemic, another management took over and this is when it became apparent that nothing was being done throughout the complex. “It is deplorable, it is disrespectful to allow people to live in these conditions. They are living with rats. That is not okay. The things that the tenants in Flatbush Gardens are going through are beyond inhabitable,” said Louis.
Noting this is the second rally for change, Louis is calling on Clipper Equity, the landlord, to hire a new management company. “This company has been treating the tenants like garbage. We are tired of it. People should not have to live this way, it is not appropriate, and it is very disrespectful,” she reiterated.
“We are asking for immediate repairs to be done in apartments,” said Louis, who had to assist a Sickle Cell disease patient with acquiring a refrigerator. “The woman was frail, and hungry,” said the councilmember, who is disgusted with the situation in Flatbush Gardens, and is grateful that the community is organizing for relief.
She pledged to continue the fight against Clipper Equity, with demands to make changes right away, or possibly lose their Section 8 certification if tenants living conditions do not improve.
Flatbush Gardens is a private residential complex, as such only the NYC’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) is authorized to issue summonses, which it continues to do. Her office also helps tenants with rent reduction, and champions expediting of repairs. However, help from the state level, as well as Governor Kathy Hochul’s office, is needed.
With rallying cries of “fight, housing is a right,” and “united we stand, divided we fall” tenants held up placards showing rodents, bedbugs, and mosquitoes, while others read, “fix the property, limited hours, rats, no security, how much longer must we wait?,” during the hours-long protest that heard defiant demands from Esther Debbie Louis, 58 Assembly District, Mariette Smalls, former president of Tenants Association of Flatbush Garden, and others.
Simon Sebag, Jewish Community liaison in the office of Jumaane D. Williams NY Public Advocate, reiterated that human beings have rights. “This is what the public advocate stands for.”
“Coming together as a group with elected officials, and signing petitions, will leave a great impact for their cause,” he said.
NYC’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/index.page, New York City Tenant Resource Unit –