September 8, 2010; Source: Wall Street Journal |A number of tenants living in foreclosed apartment buildings in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood aren’t taking any comfort from the possibility their new landlord might be a nonprofit. Fed up with the disrepair the buildings have fallen into while owned by a now-defunct British investment firm, Dawnay Day, residents say they don’t think that New Hope Community, Inc., a nonprofit that currently manages over 1000 low-income apartments in Harlem, has the wherewithal to do the needed renovations.
New Hope’s desire to own the foreclosed buildings is primarily opposed by Movement for Justice in El Barrio, a group the Wall Street Journal says represents tenant associations in the affected units. “We’ve known for a while about Hope Community’s history of neglect,” said Juan Haro, coordinator for Movement for Justice in El Barrio. “We don’t want another slumlord.”
Walter Roberts, New Hope Community’s executive director, disputes those claims, saying they are unfounded criticisms. Roberts points out that his organization is currently renovating 63 low-income apartments in Harlem. “We think we can replicate some of that work for some of the Dawnay Day tenants,” he said.
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Not all tenants are opposed to New Hope. Ann Bragg, who has lived in her apartment for 39 years, says the organization has a “pretty good reputation.” As for the previous owners, residents say Dawny Day let the properties deteriorate. One tenant, Maria Mercado, said she had fend off mice and bedbugs and cope with inferior plumbing and ceilings that leaked.
C III Capital Partners LLC, the special servicer in charge of the properties, hasn’t decided whether to sell the buildings or auction them off. In addition to resistance from some residents, New Hope might also find itself in competition for the apartments from one for-profit firm that says if it acquires the buildings it won’t raise rents.—Bruce Trachtenberg