By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
A revitalized boulevard would be a source of pride to the residents of these big six-story apartment houses as wellexcept that, clearly, no one is inviting them to the party. In March, at 946 Bushwick, where city lawyers filed a no-heat/no-hot-water case against the owner in 2005, it took a crew of HPD workers to repair a roof leak that the owners had ignored. In the same building last year, the city had to plug a mysterious leak in a fourth-floor bathroom. The city is still waiting to be reimbursed for $25,000 in emergency-repair expenses it laid out to keep these three vital buildings habitable.
The city also has a date in court in July with the owners of 946 Bushwick, where it is seeking orders to correct outstanding violations and commensurate penalties.
Tenants at 920 Bushwick say they're unclear how many units the owners have succeeded in wresting from the current residents. But Daisy Matias, a feisty 29-year-old who has lived all her life in the building, says she's peeked into the remodeled apartments and marvelled. "People move out, and he makes some beautiful apartments. Then he jacks the rent up $1,000, $1,200, $1,800. The people that move in? They got the dough, you know?"
On a Monday evening last month, about 20 residents at 920 Bushwick Avenue gathered in the lobby for a meeting with Sister Kathy Maire, a soft-spoken veteran of housing organizing efforts who works with Father Powis's group, Bushwick Housing Independence. Maire was in the midst of talking about how to cope with the landlord's harassment when Lefhowitz, the managing agent, strolled into the building. He walked past the broken window in the interior door and the security camera whose snipped wires hang uselessly in a corner of the lobby.
He said he'd heard about the meeting and was concerned. "I hope you don't cause me any trouble," he told the nun. Maire smiled back.