“Ridgewood is not for sale!”
That was the rally cry from public officials, members of the Ridgewood Tenants Union and residents of 1708 Summerfield St. who gathered outside the building on Tuesday morning to protest their landlord, whom many claim is using unfair tactics to drive the tenants out of the rent-regulated building.
The new owners of the 39-unit apartment building, Silvershore Management, purchased the building in November of 2015, according to Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who has been helping residents in his district fight back against corrupt landlords.
“[We] are going to send a clear message to Silvershore, and any property owners that want to come into Ridgewood and think that they can displace the residents that have lived here for many, many years,” Reynoso said. “It’s not going to happen.”
All of the units at 1708 Summerfield St. are rent-regulated, with some tenants receiving Section 8 vouchers, which help low-income tenants pay for their rent. The building recently failed a Section 8 inspection, due to a lack of repairs, which means Section 8 will stop paying its portion of the rent, leading to tenants being forced out of their homes because they cannot afford to live there.
“They are known for buying undervalued properties in not-yet-established neighborhoods,” said Raquel Namuche, of the Ridgewood Tenants Union. “They try to drive out long-term tenants, like these, and they make improvements and then they increase the rents by significant amounts. Silvershore Properties is a predatory landlord, and at this building they have failed to make repairs and they put people’s tenancy at risk by not making these repairs.”
There are currently 127 violations on the property, with 27 Class A violations which need to be repaired within 48 hours, Reynoso said. Some of the problems tenants have been facing and asking for repairs on include cracked and falling ceilings, waters leaks, mold and pests such as roaches and rats.
“We need justice here. We need to have our apartment fixed,” said Gloria Nives, a longtime tenant of the building. “The apartments a lot of people have here the ceilings falling, there is a lot of mold inside, starting from the roof, down going through the walls to the windows coming inside the apartments. We need [Silvershore] to fix it because [they] are trying to pull our Section 8 away.”
Reynoso is looking at opportunities to work with the Alternative Enforcement Program, which comes in and does the necessary repairs to the building through the city, and then charges the landlord for the repairs. This makes the building to passable in the Section 8 inspection, allowing residents to continue to receive their Section 8 vouchers.
“Silvershore recently purchased 1708 Summerfield St. in November 2015 from a long-term hands-off owner and as a result there were certain upgrades that needed to be made to the property,” a Silvershore spokesperson said. “We have requested certain tenants to permit us access to their apartments to make repairs and they have repeatedly denied us access. Silvershore is making and will continue to make every effort to correct all violations and make necessary repairs at the property.”