Dozens of community members from the 900s Park Place Block Association in Crown Heights are organizing to defend their neighbor.
Francis Roberts, a harassed tenant in historic Crown Heights brownstone in poor condition after years of Department of Housing Preservation and Development inaction, has been the victim of escalating landlord harassment after he refused a buyout for his park-side brownstone apartment.
The harassment has become so extreme that it has impacted others on the block who are afraid for their safety.
The increasingly bizarre harassment he has suffered includes: Refusing repairs, breaking into Roberts’ apartment, grilling food in Roberts' hallway, blocking the entrance with tents and portable toilets, making threats, playing loud music, destroying locks and removing doors and locking Roberts into his apartment.
Dead chickens, tarps, trash and sewage have been left on the stoop. The property is across the street from a daycare center, whose teachers have also been victims of physical and verbal harassment.
Roberts, who is Black, has lived in the 972 Park Pl. ground-floor apartment for approximately 25 years.
The building has hundreds of active violations from the Department of Buildings, the HPD and the Department of Sanitation, with issues of multiple leaks, mold intrusion, faulty electrical wiring and other structural flaws. There has been a legal rent reduction by DHCR in recognition of the poor condition of the unit.
The neighbors joined a city-wide trend by organizing community safety networks to fight back against landlord abuse and HPD inaction. The 900s Park Pl Block Association, with the support of the Crown Heights Tenant Union and the Crown Heights CARE Collective, has begun hosting regular community meetings.
These meetings, with more than 40 neighbors from the immediate block, are organizing a response to the crisis of landlord abuse and mass displacement in the neighborhood.
The Crown Heights Tenant Union and the Crown Heights CARE Collective, two groups involved in the community response to the situation, helped the block association knock on doors in the neighborhood to spread awareness about community meetings.
The community groups helped the block association build a local safety network for Roberts, as well as a communication channel for neighbors and experienced housing organizers to strategize, share updates about the situation and plan demonstrations.
Roberts is currently pursuing legal action against 972 Park Place LLC in Housing Court. His next court date is 10:00am on Dec. 5, at 141 Livingston St.
Filings in the Housing Court case are here.