Tenants at 836 Faile St. have not had it easy. Like many buildings facing foreclosure, it’s taken several years for any change to occur in a situation where change is desperately needed. In addition to dangerous living conditions (some pictured above), tenants have faced harassment from their landlord, Asher Neuman. Tenants related stories of supers who chase them with machetes, and tell us how Neuman refused to make repairs if they call 311 to report building violations to the city. Almost all the tenants in the building have had to fight evictions, and are not always successful: about 1/2 the units are vacant. The building currently has 138 HPD violations.
Recently, an article was published about 836 Faile St. in the Hunts Point Express illustrating the condition problems in the building. Neuman’s response to the paper:
In an email response to questions from the Express, Neuman wrote, “I don’t know of any hazardous conditions that exist in the building,” and that “repairs have been done to every complaint that has been reported to the office.”
The article goes on:
Tenants dispute that. An electrical fire broke out in an apartment on the sixth floor last winter, where Joanna Paulino lives with her six children. “The fire marshal did state that the fire was caused due to the wiring,” she said. “I sleep with a fire extinguisher next to me now”. The super and porter were supposed to fix the ceiling afterwards, Paulino said, but the new wires were left exposed for months after the repairs. “He started getting mad at me when I requested a licensed electrician,” she said.
Because the building is in foreclosure tenants have the opportunity to fight for new ownership. They’ve asked Getz Obstfeld of Community Development Inc. to buy the building; he’s indicated that if he is successful he would rehabilitate the property at little-to-no cost to tenants and keep the property affordable for the long-term. Stabilis Capital immediately rejected his offer at 836 Faile Street as being too low to justify a real response.
But through it all, tenants kept organizing. And now, things are starting to turn around.
After two years of being in foreclosure court a receiver was finally appointed to manage their building. Asher Neuman no longer has the legal right to manage the building or collect rents, and for tenants, this is a huge victory. In response to the receiver appointment, tenant Carmen Flores writes:
There’s a lot of emotions going on, I’m trying to wrap my head around everything that just happened but I have to keep my eye on the prize & that’s Getz and repairs.
After hearing from Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, who both have been publicly supporting the 836 Faile Street Tenants Association, Stabilis Capital Management reached out to Getz Obtsfeld to have a conversation about his offer.
We hope that positive changes continue to come for tenants living at 836 Faile St. We still have a long fight ahead of us, but it’s nice to appreciate the small victories along the way. As Joana Paulino eloquently states:
Never stop fighting for what you know is right. The rewards are amazing.