e&c — May 7, 2019

szczeniak :)

For the record, this newsletter would also take off its pants to retrieve a dog from the East River, and welcome to this May 7, 2019 edition of East & Creek, the Greenpoint newsletter.

What’s up in Greenpoint?

Good news for the neighborhood’s L train riders: The MTA assures you that you are not breathing in harmful particulates at its stations as the result of ongoing repairs in the Canarsie Tunnel. Following unnerving reports about the possibility for dangerous air quality arising during the L train slowdown, the MTA opted to provide weekly updates on the presence of dust and silica in the air at the Bedford and 1st Avenue stations. They released their first report on Friday; you can read it here. Long story short: Dust and silica concentrations have been consistently far lower than a “conservative health-protective standard” established by the American Council of Government Industrial Hygienists. Phew? Phew!

Speaking of the MTA, and the man who runs it:

Do you live in north-ish Greenpoint and sometimes smell a funny, petroleum-y smell? Perhaps considering attend a community meeting tonight, organized by North Brooklyn Neighbors.

Heavy rains this past weekend caused raw sewage to flow into Newtown Creek, according to an alert from the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection. (A note from e&c: This happens very, very frequently, due to the nature of our glorious city’s Combined Sewer Overflow system. We will still report on these overflows when they happen, because they are entirely the result of our own actions and decisions, and they are gross!)

One Greenpoint state senator, Julia Salazar, has in recent weeks led the progressive wing of the state legislature toward passing all nine bills of the so-called “universal rent control” platform. (New York’s current rent regulations expire in June.) Greenpoint’s other senator, Brian Kavanagh, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing, has on occasion sounded a subtle note of caution when it comes to certain proposed rent reg reforms. On WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show yesterday, Kavanagh said that his committee still needed to “figure out the details” of the proposed “good-cause eviction” bill. And on the subject of Major Capitol Improvement (MCI) bonuses, used sometimes by landlords to deregulate apartments: “Should we attempt to reform them?” Kavanagh wondered, adding, “We’re still having that question.”

Do you live at 81 Newel? You have a new landlord, as of last month! Say bye-bye to the long-time owners, and hello to 81 Newel LLC! Do you live up the street, at 159 Newel? Your landlord (or someone) at some point converted the basement into an apartment — gasp! — and the NYC Dept. of Buildings is Mad About It.

On Eviction in Greenpoint

Yesterday reporting from The City revealed that, despite recent efforts to prevent evictions in New York City, 18,000 tenants were evicted in 2018 from their residences — even in sections of the city that benefitted from targeted efforts to defend embattled tenants.

So what is the state of the eviction crisis in Greenpoint? We know that our neighborhood is a hotbed of gentrification, displacement, rising rents, and more. But are landlords in the area more prone to evict than elsewhere in the city? And how does our rapidly-changing area compare to other cities in the country when it comes to eviction?

e&c has analyzed the evictions that took place in the Greenpoint area between January 2017 and the present, based on data made public by the New York City Council. (For the purposes of this analysis, e&c considered the zip code 11222 to be Greenpoint. This zip code includes several blocks in what is considered Williamsburg. Apologies: e&c only has so much time on its hands.)

The eviction rate, per unit, between January 2017 and the present in the Greenpoint area was 0.289 percent. This was far lower than the rate in all of Brooklyn, which was approximately 0.6 percent. Like much of New York City — thanks, at least in part, to recently enacted anti-eviction policies — the rate of eviction fell during the past two-and-a-half years. 2017 saw 33 evictions in zip code 11222; twenty evictions took place in this area during the following year. Six evictions have taken place in the neighborhood year-to-date, indicating that this downward trend may continue.

Now, one obvious limit to this analysis is that the publicly available data, for the years 2017 and 2018, only describes the evictions that were actually carried out. According to the City Council, while 20,000 evictions took place in 2017, landlords filed for more than 230,000 evictions in New York City’s housing courts. (And this is to say nothing of informal evictions and other instances of day-to-day displacement.) This data, therefore, describes only a sliver of the broader crisis of eviction and displacement as it plays out in Greenpoint and in the city more broadly.

What is clear from the data available: The landlord who has successfully evicted the most tenants in the Greenpoint area — i.e. zip code 11222 — between January 2017 and the present was Benny Weingarten, alias Seventeen Monitor LLC, alias Joel Kohn, etc. etc. Several landlords evicted two tenants from their Greenpoint residences during that timeframe; between January 2017 and the present, Weingarten et al evicted six tenants from their properties. Their most recent eviction took place in February of this year, at 44 Kent St.

Second place in this dreary contest goes to Jan Dabrowski, alias 150 Norman Avenue LLC, alias 704 Leonard LLC, etc. etc. Dabrowski’s properties in the Greenpoint area saw three evictions in the past two-and-a-half years. Dabrowski also deserves special recognition for having removed 30 apartments — just over half of their units — from rent stabilization between 2007 and 2017, according to JustFix.nyc. At some buildings, Dabrowski converted all of their apartments from stabilized to market-rate during the same decade.

But for all the harm, agony, and — for the landlords, perhaps — inconvenience that arises from these local evictions, it is clear that displacement in Greenpoint does not look like displacement in places like North Charleston, North Carolina or South Bend, Indiana. As previously mentioned, the rate of eviction in zip code 11222 over the past two-and-a-half years was just over 0.2 percent. In Oklahoma City, the rate of eviction in 2016 was just over six percent. The eviction rate in 2016 in South Carolina was eight percent. In the same year, the eviction rate in New York City was 1.61 percent. The housing crisis hits all pockets of the country, but the way it hits depends on where you sit.

Meanwhile in New York City…

Five guards at a Manhattan jail performed illegal — and humiliating — searches on women visiting detainees, prosecutors allege in a 27-count indictment filed on Monday. (New York Times)

Speaking of New York’s detention complexes: After the closure of Rikers Island, the city’s jails are projected to be smaller. The main reason? Bail reform, passed just this year by the state legislature. (The City)

Bill :) de Blasio :0) is :3 running :D for =] president. (Daily News)

Like what you’re reading so far? Thanks! Forward this email to a friend, or a neighbor, or a nemesis! Don’t like what you’re reading? Definitely share this email with that nemesis.

This Is Ridiculous, What Am I Doing Here

See something? Say something — to e&c. Submissions, tips and tidbits welcome at eastandcreek@substack.com.

Community Countdown

It was beauuutiful out yesterday. And it might at some point today be beautiful out again. And it’s only about a month-and-a-half until the McCarren Park pool opens, on June 27. Splish splash, neighbors.


Thus concludes this May 6, 2019 edition of East & Creek, the twice-weekly newsletter about Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Read the full archives here.

If you like what you’re reading, do this newsletter a solid and share it with a friend.

If you don’t like what you’re reading — or if you have any comments or questions — send an email to eastandcreek@substack.com.

See you around town,

e&c