It was early evening, late July. Sean Thielen-Esparza, a project manager for a tech company, was on a work call in the bedroom of his Bushwick apartment when he heard someone banging on the door. The apartment is railroad style, and his room has its own entrance into the hall.
“No one knocks on that door, so I knew something was up immediately,” Thielen-Esparza recalled. “I had to tell the person on that call, ‘There’s something up and I need to go.’”
The rent was due, and all but one of the apartments in the building had stopped paying that month. The banging continued.
Men’s voices came through the door. Thielen-Esparza: “The words they used are, ‘We need to discuss the rent payment.’”
Bang, bang, bang.
“’Discuss the rent payment.’”
Bang, bang, bang.
Through the peephole, Thielen-Esparza saw two guys in T-shirts, strangers.
“I remember they were tall enough,” he said, ”where I was aware of the fact that if anything were to happen like a physical confrontation, I would not be able to defend myself against both of them.”
This went on for 10 minutes. Thielen-Esparza said nothing, instead checking in with his neighbors over email. They’d all gotten knocks. And when no one opened up, some of the visitors gathered outside. Peeking out their windows, tenants saw their landlord, a teenage boy (more on that later), standing there with another man, on the phone.
The building’s residents started getting calls and texts from a strange number. It was about the rent. The men lingered on the sidewalk. Thielen-Esparza had an acupuncture appointment that evening. He canceled it.
Many of you have been reading incessantly about a rise in anti-Semitism, insensitive and/or hateful rhetoric, language, violence, etc. This issue has become a hot-bed topic in Rockland County, New York following the stabbings that occurred at a Rabbi’s home/shul on the 7th night of Chanukah.
Yesterday, January 23, 2020, the Supervisors of the 5 towns that comprise Rockland County, New York held a Supervisor’s meeting intended to be the first step in addressing the problems within Rockland County. The Supervisors addressed the attendees and then the attendees were broken out into about 15 groups, each marshaled by a moderator who then had 3 minutes to provide the findings to the entire audience.
This blogger moderated groups 12, 13, 14 and 15 because they were short moderators.
We were asked to answer 2 questions (simplified here):
What are the 3 most prevalent problems within the County?
What are some possible solutions?
Notably, anti-Semitism was not listed as the most eminent threat or significant problem in a majority of the groups. Rather, overdevelopment and unequal enforcement of zoning/land-use laws were deemed to be an overriding problem nearly uniformly throughout each group. That speaks volumes.
The most salient points expressed as problems were:
Over-development (by far the first and most significant point)
Unequal treatment within the many communities in all aspects of life: development, housing, education, services, governmental assistance, law enforcement and the enforcement of building and zoning codes
Discriminatory housing practices and segregation
Education and ever increasing taxes
Social Media and the lack of sensitivity, both from the English-speaking non-religious sites and those geared towards the religious community
A synthesis of the possible solutions is:
Equal application of zoning and housing codes
Equal treatment under the law
Transparency by political and law enforcement officials
A tempered approach to social media, greater sensitivity and a better use of language. Most groups did not think that government intervention in censorship was appropriate, rather they suggested that we need to better temper ourselves.
LostMessiah’s blogger can be seen from about 15:18 to 19:54 on the video.
A Tale of Two Rocklands
Note to readers:
The video is quite long, as is the write-up by its creators: “Clarkstown What They Don’t Want You to Know” a FB page.
CWTDWYTK has more recently been the subject of attempts by the New York political machine, including Attorney General Tish James to stymie criticism that could be viewed as anti-Semitic, without so much as a review of the subject matter of the posts.
As always, admittedly, the comments can vicious but the administrators on the page have done their best to limit anything that could be viewed as hate-speech.
Given the uptick in violence against Jewish communities, particularly those who have made themselves both excluded and visible, it might be time for us to look at the socio-economic, political and cultural makeup of the people within Rockland County to see where steps can be taken to bridge gaps. It is not anti-Semitism that has guided an uptick in violence, at least not in Rockland County. Rather than invoking an all-too-used familiar mantra of anti-Semitism, it might be time to put on our big-boy pants and start analyzing problems and coming up with solutions. Enforcing zoning laws might be a start.
Anti-Semitism as a cause celebre for allowing behavior that would otherwise be deemed wholly unacceptable has taken on a life of its own.
The video was initially posted in 2 parts on the FB site. We are reposting the write-ups about the video and invite you to see the page by clicking here.
Please note this is being posted with permissions.
It’s not just the market in your city. Or your neighbourhood. Or your budget or financial situation. There’s a shadowy global financial practice at work that is fuelling the housing crisis in cities around the world. And nobody knows how to stop it.
Today we’ll explore the shady-but-legal practice of private equity firms approaching housing as a commodity for investment at scale, in cities around the world, including Canada. What happens when a dwelling that should be a forever home for a family becomes just a trade chip amongst tens of thousands of others, to be bought and sold solely based on profit margin? Nothing good, you would imagine. And you’d be right. But can cities and governments figure out a plan to stop it?
GUESTS: Leilani Farha, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing; and Fredrik Gertten, documentary filmmaker
(You can watch the trailer for their film, Push, and find out where it’s playing, right here)
It was recently reported that New York City landlords, Jay and Stuart Podolsky are raising millions to house homeless New Yorkers after selling over 20 buildings to the city for a total of $173.5 million — more than the appraised value.
By: Marcus Tentrite
Financial documents show that the Brooklyn born brothers raked in approximately $188.7 million through the leasing of various properties over the last five years.
After selling 21 buildings to the city above market value, they will retain seven buildings to house the homeless — taking in millions of dollars.
New York City officials told the New York Post last Thursday that the program will cease to exist by December of 2020.
“As we continue our shelter transformation plan, we are phasing out all of their remaining shelter locations by the end of next year,” Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for the City’s Department of Homeless Services, told The Post.
The brothers raked in massive profits by providing space to the city for the purpose of providing shelter to the city’s homeless population under two different programs — traditional shelters and “cluster” units.
The City’s purchase of the 20 plus apartment buildings in Brooklyn and the Bronx formalized the acquisition of the clusters that were owned by the Podolsky brothers and earned $48.6 million between July 2013 and June 2018.
The pair also leased eight buildings as additional shelters, where they made a larger profit — $140.1 million over the same five-year period of time.
Someone who is employed by the City of New York told The Post recently that they shut down one of the Podolsky standard shelters in December 2018, reducing the number of shelters owned by the pair to seven.
New York’s Department of Homeless Services never entered into an agreement directly with the brothers, but, rather signed contracts with nonprofit organizations which rented space in buildings owned by the pair and then billed City Hall for reimbursement.
The unusual payment relationship hid the amount of money which the brothers made in a relatively short period of time.
To continue reading click here.