The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

Tag Archives: slumlord

A-Rod, the Slumlord

an-apartment-complex-that-alex-rodriguez-owns-is-infested-with-rats-and-roaches

As a new resident of the great city of New York, its hard to miss all the Yankee pride. And it’s impossible to think of the Yankees without imagining Alex Rodriguez hitting yet another home run. These days though, A-Rod is in the news for a different reason – suing Bud Selig and the MLB for defamation of character.

Rodriguez claims that Selig has gone on a “witch-hunt,” doing everything he can to drag the Yankee’s name thru the mud. This week, Selig uncovered Rodriguez’s role as a Baltimore landlord. At The Nation, Dave Zirin wrote about a visit he took to three housing complexes in Langley, MD with more than 1,000 units managed by Newport Property Ventures, a company owned by the 12-time All Star and 3-time MVP.

According to A-Rod’s tenants, he is a “slumlord”, a “scumbag” and several phrases in Spanish that don’t have easy translations but involve using your own head to have a certain kind of sex with yourself.

Zirin went on to list the variety of issues facing the building, ranging from rats to gas explosions to mold infestations to bed bugs to sewage problems. The conditions are clearly pretty atrocious.

Zirin mentioned a Washington Post article about the same buildings, which got me wondering what other press has come out about these buildings. A quick google search made my jaw drop. The media has been covering the horrible conditions of A-Rod’s buildings since at least 2007 (!) when the New York Times wrote about a series of complexes A-Rod owns Tampa, FL.

…the mottled backside of the complex, where an exhausted appliance sits on a porch, cardboard is taped over broken window panes and missing spindles give rickety banisters the look of a snaggletooth smile.

Some residents here tell tales of roaches overtaking kitchen cabinets in a bumper-to-bumper crawl to the corn flakes, of carpets stained in the 1990s and quick-trigger evictions.

There were over a dozen pages of hits of articles and blog posts when I searched “Alex Rodriguez slumlord.” Now lets think about what that means: since 2007, its been a well known fact that A-Rod is a slumlord. Has he been held accountable? No.

And how much has he accomplished? Since 2007, he’s played in 822 games, with 622 RBIs (Runs Batted In) and 190 home runs. He’s won an MVP award, been on two All Star teams; he’s achieved notaritety with the most career Grand Slams and the most career home runs by a Latino player, just to name a few .

Through all these accomplishments, there has been no accountability as a slumlord.

I’ve been to buildings that are a baseball throw from Yankee Stadium that are in horrible conditions with slumlords running them into the ground. I used to think this was a stain on the Yankee pride. It is no doubt, but a worse stain is the simple fact that the Yankees are employing a slumlord as their third baseman.

Imagine if every time ESPN, Sports Illustrated,  or the New York Times wanted to talk about Alex Rodriguez, they had to call him a slumlord as well as a 12-time All Star and 3-time MVP third baseman.

They both are clearly part of his character — but only one of those parts is denying thousands of people across the country their right to decent, affordable housing. A-Rod, you’re nowhere close to hitting this one out of the park. Its time to step your game up and be held accountable to the properties you own.

Evict the Landlord

Tenants and allies 1058 Southern Boulevard made this video documenting the handwork they did to bring direct pressure to slumlord Miriam Shasho. Check it out, and be sure to check out RIPPD, whose support to tenants of 1058 Southern Boulevard is invaluable.

Gotham Gazette: “Council Acts on Foreclosures”

First your heat is turned off. Then the leaks start. Mold is growing and harmful lead paint begins to peel. Countless calls to the landlord go unreturned, because the management stopped paying bills months ago — the building is facing foreclosure and soon, an even-more anonymous bank will own the building.

With hundreds of residential building facing foreclosures each year, these conditions are not uncommon; they are also exactly what a new City Council bill hopes to prevent.

The bill, 501-A, will require banks to notify the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) fifteen days before a foreclosure action is taken on a residential building. This will allow the HPD to help keep buildings up to code and ensure the building’s sale to new, responsible buyers.

The bill will press banks to take more responsibility for the fact that the assets they seize still have tenants living in them, Quinn said; “you lent the money, you own the building.”

Keeping the Roaches Out

In addition to deteriorating physical conditions, distressed buildings are particularly susceptible to corrupt buyers and illegal conversions (as buyers convert units to boarding houses to raise cash fast).

With a nod to the New York Daily News investigation that found limited city efforts to crack down on illegal conversions, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she hopes the new bill will prevent those conversions from ever happening by allowing the HPD to work with banks to vet out corrupt buyers from buying distressed properties from the banks.

“Slum lords exist on the belief that no one is watching,” Quinn said yesterday. “They’re a little bit like roaches, when the microscope is on them they run away.”

The bill will require the HPD to update their website quarterly with the number of foreclosure actions that exist in each community district. For buildings with twenty or more units, the HPD must list basic building information on the site so tenants and neighbors can be informed of foreclosure activities. This data will also help city officials to monitor struggling areas.

The bill is the latest passed legislation that Quinn proposed in her 2011 State of the City address, coming just two weeks after the Fair Parking Legislative Package, which was a major goal of last year’s speech. Quinn’s State of the City for 2012 is scheduled for next week.

To read more, click here.

GOTCHA: Rude, Ignorant Del Shah Manager Blogs About Her Thoughts

Do you ever wonder what your landlord thinks of you? Do you feel like you need proof  that all of this “Predatory Equity” stuff is related to the fact that maybe, some landlords just hate  poor people?

Well, here’s your answer. It’s a bit dated, but thanks to organizer Kerri White, this document has resurfaced.

Inane, inappropriate, unprofessional, and discriminatory – here are some ugly tidbits of the Del Shah Capital perspective from building manager Maria Luisa’s blog.

“Ok so I am a property manager or like an onsite manager that makes sure that the super and the maintenance guys are doing their job, we are getting paid by the tenants and making sure everything is running smoothly. Oh and one more thing I work with Section 8 and Welfare so if you know ANYTHING about the then you will understand why I HATE this building!”

“Anyways so I get funny tenants coming to my office everyday with complains like:

I have no heat!

I have no hot water!

My toilet is running – please not smart comments on that one cause I can think of a million! LOL

My light is out!

Pesticide and rodents!

I get it all!!!! I also have crazy people who are one day going to drive me insane because I see them everyday with their complains. They complaing about EVERYTHING! I mean they have sort of a right to….Now why do I say sort of?! Because THEY DON’T PAY THEIR GOD DAMNED RENT!!! They come into MY office with their hair done and nails done but they can’t pay their $160 portion of the rent! Oh and lets not talk about Christmas how everyone got presents but they can’t pay their rent! And they have the nerve to take US to court because they “supposedly” dont’ pay their rent because of broken things in their house that we took care of in less than a day but they still aren’t paying the rent. Wow must be GREAT to be them! Oh and calling Section 8 or welfare?! Forget about it! They never pick up and when they do ATTITUDE! That’s why I LOVE being a BITCH at my job….why?! cause unfortunately you have to lower yourself to their level in order for them to understand you. Crazy right?!

That’s just a little part of my day but it’s very entertaining at times. I have even gone and knocked on people’s doors and I SWEAR TO GOD that one man answered the door in his fucking tight ass thong looking boxers. He only had that on not even slippers and every question we asked him his response was “I DUNNO.” I felt like slapping some answers into him! He had a huge pot/beer belly and some crusty looking toes! I couldn’t help but notice this! lol

This is why I say WOMEN please please please please please marry a guy who is going to support you and not depend on some government program to pay your rent! It’s a disgrace to the hispanic community how some of these hispanics live here. I want to run out of this building most of the time but it’s amazing how these peopel LOVE living like this. Have a nasty apartment can’t pay the rent but are driving the car of the year! There are actual people who really need this help and some of the people here disgust me!”

Del Shah is one sketchy company.  In fact, organizer Dan Desloover and I just began organizing in one of their buildings on 1314 Seneca Avenue in the Bronx.  What skeezes us out the most (apart from the truly appalling conditions in the building) is Del Shah’s purchasing practices. When Del Shah buys buildings, first they buy the building using a non-profit called “The African American Parent Council” before they transfer the deed to themselves.  Yes, this definitely smells funny, and this blog post by their building manager is an excellent reminder that these negligent landlords aren’t just lazy – they have bad intentions too.

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