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Maimonides Set to Evict Workers from Hospital-Provided Housing

Current and former hospital workers at Maimonidies Medical Center are facing eviction from buildings once owned by the hospital on April 15.
Maimonides Medical Center.

After years of working for the Borough Park hospital, almost two dozen employees from Maimonides Medical Center are facing eviction from housing controlled by the hospital.

Back in the 80s, Maimonides purchased several buildings with the thought that housing workers nearby would shorten their commute to work. In 2018, the hospital sold seven of those buildings to a firm called Iris Holdings, but current and former employees of the hospital continued living there.

In order to smooth the transition, Maimonides took on what is called a “Master Lease,” under which the hospital is the tenant on record of the building and the actual tenants sublease from them. But the new owners of the buildings were still able to slowly raise rents over the years. This has lead the hospital to spend up to $1 million per year to pay the difference in rent for tenants after the increases.

Some of the buildings’ tenants have been living there for decades. Simone St. Prix worked as a patient care technician at the hospital from 1994 to 2018. She moved into housing owned by Maimonides in 1996.

“I haven't been sleeping well,” said St. Prix, who says conditions in her building have markedly declined in recent years. “You work so hard for the hospital and then now that is what they are doing.”

In February, a judge handed down a decision to evict 21 tenants in the building by April 15. If the tenants are evicted, they could have as little as two weeks to leave.

“It came as a shock,” said tenant Conrad Ramkissoon of the decision.  “We thought we were going to go to trial. We thought we’d be able to present our defense, but that's not what happened.”

Ramkissoon has lived in one of these buildings since 2003. After working for the hospital as a nurse, he was injured in 2010 and became unable to work and has been on disability. Now, Ramkissoon says he will probably have to enter the shelter system.

“If I’m served [eviction] papers there’s no place for me to go but the shelter,” he said.

Since the February decision, tenants and organizers have been traveling to Albany to ratchet up for political support from elected officials.

Last Wednesday, New York State Attorney General released a letter speaking out against the potential evictions, and calling for a meeting between her office, Housing Preservation and Development, Maimonides, and the employees.

“I am deeply concerned that Maimonides is evicting its long-time employees who have dedicated their careers to serving our communities,” wrote James. “Housing insecurity has serious consequences for individual’s health and financial wellbeing.”

Though the tenants claim the evictions have come as a shock, Maimonides says they have been preparing tenants to leave since 2018.

“This is not something we just decided several months ago and suddenly people have to leave,” said a spokesperson for the hospital. “They've known for a long time.”

The hospital states that they simply can’t afford to continue subsidizing rents for the tenants, but are willing to be involved in helping them find new places to live. In a statement to BK Reader, Maimonides expressed willingness to meet with the Attorney General and tenants for a path forward.

“For several years, Maimonides has provided a small number of tenants with more than $1 million annually in rent subsidies, even when rent has gone unpaid, while urging them to find new apartments and offering rent forgiveness to tenants who agree to move voluntarily. As a safety net hospital, Maimonides must focus its scarce resources on providing award-winning care to the more than 400,000 patients we serve each year from some of Brooklyn’s neediest and most diverse neighborhoods. We have met with community partners and other elected officials recently, and we are happy to meet with the Attorney General’s Office and city housing officials to explore what options are available for these tenants.”

Christopher Edwards

About the Author: Christopher Edwards

Christopher Edwards is a native Brooklynite and current student at Baruch College, majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing.
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