That's how much Isaac "Barry" Hersko stands to earn for a contract with the City to be a de facto Homeless Shelter landlord in his few Brooklyn buildings. For the past many years, that seemed like a pretty great deal for a notorious slumlord like Barry. Usually, a slumlord makes his money simply in the difference between whatever rent he can extract and his meager expenses. Keep your expenses low (as in deny them gas, electric, hot water or repairs) and you can make a tidy profit. Better still if there's no underlying mortgage. But the City - through the DHS Scattersite Housing system - made him very rich indeed. Because now he gets $2700 a month for each apartment reGARDLESS of whether he does or spends anything at all.
It's all come to a head in the past couple months, thanks to the work of the tenants themselves, media like the NY Times and WNYC, activists, and now lawyers from Legal Aid Society. Read all about it here in another nice piece from Nathan Tempey of Gothamist. I still have no idea where it's all going to lead. But with the head of DHS being forced out and official apologies coming from the agency, plus lawsuits and increased citizen attention, one can hope that a new model can be found to temporarily house folks who've been evicted from their homes. And remember, at 60 Clarkson, it's almost all families. As in children. Lots and lots of children.
Let me tell you how this whole storm started about three years ago. I wrote about the building not out of some great moral crusade, or because I sleuthed and journalistically investigated. Actually, it began about FIVE years ago when we reorganized a block association. In planning the block parties, we started to meet our neighbors. Upon meeting with and working with them, we started to hear about their plights. No one was happy with the situation at 60 Clarkson. The police and ambulances every night, the roaches and filth, the crying children, the late night drop-offs of scared and destitute families. People were asking me, us, to do something. Anything. A number of us took it as a challenge and an imperative. But what do you do? You start to squawk. To anyone who will listen. You get meetings, make phone calls. Learn the ropes. And you encourage people to get organized, and try to put them in touch with people like the Crown Heights Tenants Union or elected officials or PLGNA etc. I'm learning. We're learning. I hope we continue to do so.
Gotta love this picture Nathan took of Mimi Rosenberg from Legal Aid:
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.