Earlier this week, you met William, president of the 101 Lincoln Road tenant association . He fought for years alongside Brooklyn A attorneys and organizers to get critical repairs and fair rent for himself and his neighbors in their Prospect Lefferts Gardens apartment building.
We checked in with William to see how he and his neighbors are coping during the COVID-19 crisis.
William has, fortunately, remained healthy. Sadly, two active members of the TA have passed away from the virus.
William is aware that there are neighbors in the building that are having trouble paying rent. They are also having trouble getting a warrantee of habitability enforced. For the last six months, several households have been on rent strike because services like hot water had been withheld. Although the TA, with the help of Brooklyn A, has accomplished so much, the fight for the maintenance of their rightful services continues. He explained how in working with the owners, “You get one thing and something else is taken away.”
On a larger scale, William is concerned about the ramifications of the economic crisis in relation to their building: “The economy is taking a nosedive. Tenants are unable to afford rent because they lost their jobs due to the virus; this will eventually catch up to the larger landlords. What will happen when they cannot pay their mortgage? They will have a reason not to provide services. I am fighting for repairs to be made before a financial collapse comes. The building has gone into foreclosure before. I am afraid it will happen again.”
These issues continue to affirm the importance of organizing tenants and using collective action. Despite not being able to hold TA meetings in person, William hopes to start using Zoom and other technologies to interact with his neighbors to organize and share useful housing information and safety tips. He finds this incredibly important and challenging with a tenant association of mostly elderly, rent-stabilized individuals with limited digital access.
Brooklyn A continues work with the TA of 101 Lincoln Road and other long-standing and newly formed tenant associations to address housing issues that have arisen as a result of the current public health and economic crisis. We are also exploring ways to bridge the technology gap amongst tenants, particularly for those who are elderly and lower-income. We are also conducting town halls and creating materials to educate tenants on their fair housing rights, particularly related to the crisis.
Click here to donate now and support Brooklyn A’s work, ensuring that all people have access to a safe, healthy, and affordable home, free from discrimination and the threat of displacement.