Crown Heights

Crown Heights tenants rally against apartment warehousing and unsafe conditions

Demonstrators gathered at 1392 Sterling Place commemorating 1 year of rent strike, calling for solutions to housing conditions

October 31, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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CROWN HEIGHTS — Residents in central Brooklyn gathered around the apartment complex at 1392 Sterling Place Monday to protest various dangerous living conditions after being one year on rent strike. Some tenants vowed to pursue a takeover of the building through a housing cooperative.

The building was acquired by Iris Management in 2019. The company planned to deregulate the tenants’ homes and raise rents above the market rate. Later in 2019, when the deregulation of residential units was banned, Iris attempted to back out of the deal. The death of the landlord at the property further complicated matters.

Iris and the landlord’s estate have consistently ignored tenants’ basic requests regarding concerns at the property. Over 489 violations are on file, according to Housing Justice for All, a statewide tenants’ rights organization. 20 percent of the units at 1392 Sterling are vacant.

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“We want overhaul renovations from top to bottom. When it rains, it pours in my kitchen, straight onto my stovetop, and on my daughter’s bed too,” said Sam Oilett, a tenant on the fourth floor of the building.

One resident in the building, an elderly woman living on the fourth floor, has been denied requests to move into a unit on the second floor so that she could more easily walk up the stairs.

Residents at 1392 Sterling Place in Crown Heights on Monday. Photos courtesy of Housing Justice for All®

“Some of these apartments have been vacant for ten years, and management has repeatedly. ignored the requests of elderly tenants to move downstairs. Now they say it will take money to fix up the vacant apartments—but where has our rent money gone for years? Clearly not to any upkeep in the building,” said Michelle Stamp, a tenant in the building whose family has lived there for 60 years.

The protestors called for their landlord and Iris Management to appropriately address their concerns, and for housing agencies to enforce existing laws that protect tenants, as they have failed to do so.

“We need to pass the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act to help our buildings become a co-op. We are human beings, and we deserve a say in our housing and control over where we live,” said Yvette Stamp, a resident at the building.

“Landlords never make excuses when it’s time to collect the rent, but have every excuse known to man when it comes to providing habitable conditions to earn that rent. Enough. If bad actors refuse to provide safe housing, they should not be in the business of owning property, and it’s time we consider other models of ownership, like those provided in the Tenant Opportunity Purchase Act which I have the honor of sponsoring in the state senate,” said state senator Zellnor Myrie.

“My constituents deserve nothing short of the best, and there are few things better than safe, affordable housing.”

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