‘We have no rights with this management’: Flatbush Gardens tenants rally for better living conditions

Flatbush Garden Tenant attends protest for unfair treatment from management
A Flatbush Gardens tenant attends a community protest for unfair treatment from management on Monday, June 27.
Photo by Jada Camille

Residents of Flatbush Gardens — a sprawling apartment complex more than 59 buildings and 2,000 units — rallied against mismanagement and “unjust” living conditions on June 27, claiming management has long overlooked rodent infestation, crumbling walls and ceilings, and improper plumbing.

According to tenant Jocelyn Fenton, the light fixtures in her apartment are a disaster, and the doors have such large gaps that they allow for rodents and bugs to get into her home.

“When I had somebody come fix one of the lights in my apartment building, they told me that the wiring was stripped bare and he couldn’t do anything about it and said it should have been replaced a long time ago,” Fenton said. “Nobody has fixed it, all he did was tape it over and the light went out. It’s a complete mess.”

Flatbush Gardens first opened in 1950, and was purchased by Clipper Realty in 2009 — raising alarm bells with longtime residents. Bounded by Foster Avenue, Brooklyn Avenue, Newkirk Avenue and Nostrand Avenue, it is one of the largest affordable developments in Brooklyn.

flatbush gardens large brick building from the street
Flatbush Gardens as seen from Foster Avenue. Tenants at the enormous affordable complex say management is neglecting their apartments, allowing them to fall into disrepair. Google Maps

Kimberly Oliver, a long-term occupant and member of the complex’s tenant association, claims building administration is unresponsive, disrespectful and often indifferent to the complaints they receive. 

“We’re out here today to speak for all those who can’t speak for themselves and to let this management know, ‘Your management sucks,'” she said, claiming that conditions have gone downhill since management company Clipper Equity took control of management in 2020 after Flatbush Gardens was refinanced, building conditions have continued to slide downhill.

“We don’t get repairs done on time. Our buildings are not being cleaned,” Oliver said. “They don’t have cleaning supplies so if you do get the opportunity to have your building cleaned, it’s cleaned with dirty water. We have a rodent infestation, we have [a] filthy laundry room in the basements and we have people [who don’t pay rent] living in your buildings.”

Tenant Association President Marietta Samal and Oliver said that, in the past, management would meet with the association regularly to discuss tenant issues, but Clipper Equity — a residential landlord and development firm — refuses to do the same.

“Since we’ve been under this new management system, they have alienated us. They have made it impossible for us to contact them because we have no contact number on site,” Oliver said. “We have no rights with this management.”

Clipper Equity and Clipper Realty, who list the same phone number on their websites, did not return multiple requests for comment.

According to Samal, management currently offers limited in-person office hours, so lines of tenants often wrap around the building, all of them hoping to get their needs met. The tenant association has since resorted to bringing in local elected officials to help them fight for justice.

Councilmember Farah Louis helped organize Monday’s rally, and told the crowd that her team regularly attends the tenant association meetings — but once she saw how bad things had become, she knew she had to get involved. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, state Senator Kevin Parker, Assemblymember and Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Assemblymember Monique Chandler Waterman, Assembly candidate Hercules Reid joined Louis at Monday’s rally.

“It’s deplorable, it’s uninhabitable, and it’s not fair,” said Louis, who represents Flatbush, Midwood, Flatlands, East Flatbush and Marine Park.

Louis said tenants are asking for three main things from Clipper Equity: to provide sanitary conditions and clean the buildings, to provide repairs to apartments — prioritizing outstanding cases, to enlist a public safety patrol to humanely handle homeless individuals trespassing on-premises.

“Number four, if they can’t get it together then get the hell out,” Louis said. “We have other companies that can come in and help manage these buildings in a more equitable way.”

Louis repeatedly reminded those who attended the protest that their voice matters and it was time to stand up and speak out against the mistreatment. 

“I told the residents, it’s time for them to stand up and stand for their rights and ally,” she said. “We’re gonna keep doing this each and every day, each and every week until management gets it together or until they get out.”