The residents of 300 Putnam Avenue are dealing with some very basic issues. The incinerator is not working and garbage is jammed from the 2nd to the 6th floor. There is no gas, no elevator and no hot water. There are doors broken, sewage is backed up, windows are missing, they have squatters in the building and someone has thrown garbage out the window.
This was part of the litany of complaints that local elected officials State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblywoman Annette Robinson and Councilman Al Vann had been informed about and were meeting in the crowded room to report back to the tenants on progress they had made on ownership and administration of the building.
Senator Montgomery said that they had been able to have HPD move the building up to” their number one priority” and she had Department of Housing Preservation and Development staff attorney Carlton Gordon present to report on actions the agency is taking.
Attorney Gordon said that on August 22 at 9:30am, the move to assign an administrator for the building, will be at 141 Livingston Street, Housing Court, in Judge Gonzales’ courtroom on the fourth floor. Waving an inch and a half thick listing of the building’s violations, Gordon said he would normally believe that he’d have no problem having the Bridge Street Development Corporation named as administrator of the building.
However, Mr. Gordon spoke of a “funny phone call”about the building and was concerned that because of the size, location and the real estate market in Brooklyn, “someone may try to take over the deed,” a last minute buyer, saying they have the “deep pockets” necessary to do the repairs. In that eventuality, “The judge will want to hear what he has to say” and HPD will have to listen to it also. So there are “no guarantees” Gordon cautioned although HUD has said they will “proceed to block any sale” and Senator Montgomery added that the delegation wanted Congressman Ed Towns, to put pressure on HUD to fulfill that commitment.
Rhonda Lewis, President and CEO of the BSDC said that if they were approved to take over the building, they would want to begin to collect rent and that everyone would need their income certifications. She also suggested that the residents show up on their day in court August 23 because their presence will have an impact.
Councilman Al Vann let the tenants know that 300 Putnam was a project that Bridge Street Development didn’t have to take on. “She chooses to do this because no one should have to live like this.”
Assemblywoman Robinson said to loud approval that when this change does come, everybody had better check their own households and “get ready because we will come in and do what we have to do,” to clean up the building.
Michell Spense, president of the Tenant’s Association, has been around Putnam Avenue for 28 years. She said everyone should ask themselves “what part are we going to play in cleaning the building?” She asked for a $3 donation from the tenants to purchase bags and cleaning supplies, saying, “We’re all in it together and we will win together.”
David Mark Greaves