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“Health before wealth”

Earlier this week, you met Demetrius, lifelong organizer and President of the Tenant Association (TA) in his Bushwick apartment building. With Brooklyn A’s help, the TA successfully took ownership of the building, hired a new property management company to manage the building and make critical repairs, and received back overcharged rent.

We checked-in with Demetrius to see how he and his neighbors are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demetrius has been safe from the virus, but the pandemic has affected his health in other ways. He has underlying health issues that make him more vulnerable to the virus and force him to take extra precautions, which can be challenging in his dense neighborhood. Demetrius is grateful that repairs he fought for have already been made in his apartment. He no longer has to deal with flooding each time it rains, especially valuable now that he has to be inside much of the time. However, Demetrius is unable to go to the doctor to address chronic back pain. And uncertainty around the virus has resurfaced mental health challenges.

In his building and community, Demetrius is seeing that people are unable to pay rent due to the loss of income caused by the pandemic. There have been delays in receiving vouchers, such as Social Security or Section 8, that he and his neighbors use to pay rent. These issues concern him, but he is comforted by the fact that everyone in the building is committed to organizing and collective action. His TA maintains regular communication and continue to be represented by Brooklyn A. Demetrius hopes that the COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call to greedy landlords that health is more important than money, or, as he says, “health before wealth.”

Brooklyn A’s model of organizing tenant associations gives tenants more power to draw attention to issues in their building and get them resolved and builds a support system for tenants to face times of crisis with resilience.

Click here to support Brooklyn A’s work representing tenants associations and supporting their leaders like Demetrius.

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