Tenants of rent-stabilized apartments in buildings run by Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation (NEBHDCO) met outside bankruptcy court in downtown Brooklyn last week.
They talked about long-standing conditions like mold, rats, collapsed ceilings, roaches, and heat outages.
They say their landlord’s poor supervision has caused the situation to get worse for decades, leading to widespread health hazards.
“When it rains, it rains in my apartment,” said Debra King, who lives on the top floor at 257 Mother Gaston Boulevard.
NEBHDCO owns twelve buildings throughout the borough. Tenants say that they have made several requests for repairs, but to no avail.
Latoya Wiggins, who lives just under King, said she took numerous days off work waiting for somebody to make repairs, but often times nobody arrived.
When employees were sent, Wiggins said they would either show up and leave, claiming nobody gave them access, or hastily fix the issue but not completely remedy it.
For example, Wiggins has large patches of mold in her home, and in response NEBHDCO employees simply painted over it. The mold quickly returned.
“I realized I have a severe allergy to mold, and I am constantly around it because it is in my apartment,” she said.
Other issues involve security problems. Doors are left unlocked and people sleep in the hallways.
One tenant is even in jeopardy of losing her Section 8 subsidy because her apartment cannot pass inspection.
Last year, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams released a list with the worst landlords in the city. NEBHDCO ranked second with 1,345 HPD violations.
The nonprofit did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The tenants want new management entirely. Last week, they filed a motion to appoint an independent trustee to take control of all twelve buildings operated by NEBHDCO.
“We’re here to see what story they keep giving the judge, and why they keep getting a pass to go on continuing to let us suffer like this,” King said.
Last year, three tenants sued NEBHDCO to force repairs, which the agency agreed to. They were supposed to start in February, but that month they filed for bankruptcy, preventing any repairs from taking place.
In the months leading up to Wednesday’s court date, NEBHDCO was required to produce a plan to pay its debts in order to retain ownership of the buildings.
According to Jane Landry from Legal Services NYC, which is representing the tenants, a last-ditch plan was filed the night before the court date. NEBHDCO would sell some of the buildings to a for-profit developer and use that money to pay off debts.
A judge announced this ruling would take place on October 2.
“My hope is that they won’t be able to keep any of their property,” King said. “They don’t deserve to.”
Wiggins just wants the repairs done so she can get on with her life.
“This is a draining process,” she said. “They’re a big corporation. I’m an ordinary single mom just trying to make it.”