Dozens of tenants and their elected officials marched through the streets of Ridgewood on Saturday to call out a landlord who many charge is a “bad actor” in multiple boroughs.
Protesters accused Silvershore Properties, which made the 100 Worst Landlord list in 2017, of purposely neglecting properties to drive tenants out and deregulate units while calling for universal rent control.
During the rally organized by Ridgewood Tenants Union (RTU), residents of 61-20 Madison St. and 1708 Summerfield St. claimed that they are often left to fend for themselves when it comes to repairs and must make due without heat or hot water.
“These people have forgotten where they came from, these people have forgotten that they were in our shoes many years ago,” Hilda Coll said. “Ridgewood is a community, not a commodity.”
Gloria Nieves, who lives at the Summerfield Street location, said the landlord keeps jacking up the rent and basic services like bring the garbage to the street and snow shoveling is not done by the company. She also said that when Silvershore wishes to enter an apartment, they often do so without warning.
“My back breaks in so many places,” Nieves said of the strain the work puts on her body.
One tenant in the Madison Street building claims Silvershore kept one apartment on the ground floor vacant for months in order to claim a lost before bumping the rent up to $2,800.
“[Silvershore] flips housing to make a profit off tenants,” said Raquel Namuche, a leader in RTU.
Another man in the Madison Street building said he often takes matters into his own hands when it comes to repairs and maintenance to the property as there is no superintendent present on the site.
The building was purchased, along with many others in Silvershore’s portfolio, in June of 2016 and was added to the city’s 100 Worst Landlords list by Public Advocate Letitia James.
Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, who spoke at the rally, has a bill that will require landlords building housing to meet an area median income calculated by the ZIP code rather than the region and grant community boards more authority over projects.
“We all can agree that housing is a human right and we have the power to legislate that,” Barnwell said.
Barnwell’s legislation also bans Major Capital Improvements, which allow landlords to raise rent based on repair or renovations to buildings. It is one of nine bills the rally advocated for that amount to what they referred to as universal rent control.
“Ridgewood is rising up – communities across New York are rising up – because we know [we must] fight unscrupulous landlords and investors who are coming here to make a dime out of the misery and suffering of our resident using tactics to displace our communities,” Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said. “What message do we send to the nation when in New York City … we have 25,000 homeless children.”
There are over 60,000 homeless people total across the city by conservative estimates.
Velazquez is the sponsor of the Landlord Accountability Act to protect Section 8 tenants.
“We do not want to support people who want to come into Ridgewood to speculate on the backs of our families,” Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan said.
Ken Fisher, an attorney representing Silvershore, told QNS last week that the reason behind their being added to the list was strictly by virtue of the number of complaints to HPD alone. Fisher said the company buys buildings in poor states of repair and upgrades them.
According to the HPD website, the Madison Street property already has 16 complaints from 2019 alone and well over 30 from 2018. The most common complaints referred to a lack of heat and hot water, usually effecting the entire building.
The Summerfield Street building has over 65 complaints from 2019 alone, mostly pertaining to heat and hot water.
Regardless, argued that over 100 violations were cleared the week of the Public Adovocate’s report and that the company has not made the list since 2017.
“It’s no surprise that old buildings neglected for years [would have problems], but there’s simply no basis that this is part of a deliberate effort to drive tenants out,” Fisher said. “Ridgewood is obviously a neighborhood in transition and I think people are trying to connect some dots with Silvershore that are not cause and affect.”
Ariel Property Advisors, retained by Silvershore to sell the Madison Street building, states the $2.4 million investment “offers stable cashflow with a great opportunity to add value to the rental income. As the Ridgewood neighborhood continues to transform, the location offers tremendous growth potential.”
Also speaking at the rally were Assmeblyman Mike Miller and state Senator Michael Gianaris.