The headlines I’ve seen during the past 10 days have been devastating. This is not the man I know. State Sen. Carl Kruger has always been someone I could count on to stand with me on tenant issues. For all of us who know the good this man has done, we must not forget. I remember when the tenants of one Brighton Beach apartment building, mostly elderly Russian immigrants, had their antenna ripped off the roof and lost their ability to watch their favorite Russian-language channels. Many of these people were frail. They were dependent on their TV to bring the outside world into to their homes.
Sen. Kruger stood in the lobby of that building and lashed out at the actions of the landlord. We lost the fight in the end, but to me, democracy won. The senator’s energies and his fury on behalf of these elderly immigrants were absolutely inspiring. When tenants from another Brighton Beach building came to our office because they weren’t getting enough heat, in addition to other repair and safety issues, Sen. Kruger stood with me again. He committed his energies to resolve their problems — and, together, we did.
One landlord I dealt with had six tenants who were in the Section 8 program. For months, he did not receive his proper payments. The Section 8 program needs many administrative changes. Its failings have resulted in people receiving eviction letters or, worse, losing their housing. Just this week, one of my elderly clients had to travel to the Bronx because Section 8 couldn’t find her recertification papers. Our office called Section 8 time and time again to try to help the landlord with the six Section 8 tenants. Finally, we turned to Sen. Kruger, who successfully cut through the red tape and these overdue funds were sent out.
I don’t know the man portrayed in the headlines. I do know the man that I have turned to and respect. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “When I want to understand what is happening today or try to decide what will happen tomorrow, I look back.” This is the man I do know.
Pat Singer is executive director of the Brighton Neighborhood Association.