Activists and elected officials from Brooklyn and Texas have joined forces to launch a divestment campaign against the predatory equity landlord Greenbrook Partners, which has kicked scores of Brooklynites out of their homes after going on a pandemic buying spree.
The effort is targeting the Texas Permanent School Fund, an organization meant to benefit public schools in the Lone Star State that has a $100 million stake in the United Kingdom-based real estate investment firm NW1, which in turn has invested heavily in Greenbrook — allowing them to buy over 50 buildings in Brooklyn during the pandemic.
Lawmakers and affected tenants are calling on the school fund to divest from NW1.
“Texas schools should not be funded by kicking Brooklynites out of their homes,” Park Slope Councilmember Brad Lander said at a rally on Prospect Park West on June 4. “The people of Texas would not like it if the government of New York was making money by throwing the people of Texas out of their homes.”
Austin City Councilmember Gregorio Casar joined the rally by video call, and said he would put pressure on the Texas State Board of Education to dump the fund’s stake in NW1.
“Our tax dollars here should absolutely not go towards evicting tenants anywhere in this country,” Casar said.
Casar, Lander, and Assemblymember Robert Carroll delivered a memo to the Texas State Board of Education outlining the situation and requesting their withdrawal of funds from NW1.
“Although your investment staff or consultants may have informed you that this is a matter of a few disgruntled individuals, that is simply not true,” the memo reads. “We have identified 54 multi-family rental buildings purchased by Greenbrook, containing over 1,000 residents.”
Greenbrook has moved to evict dozens of tenants from their buildings almost immediately after buying them, issuing notices of non-renewal to market-rate tenants and gutting their apartments once they vacated — making life hellish for the rent-controlled tenants who remain to see their buildings turned into dusty construction sites.
For Cassie Newsom, a tenant at 70 Prospect Park West, learning that her attempted eviction was being bankrolled by a fund meant to benefit Texas schools was particularly painful, due to her time working as a public school teacher in Texas before moving to New York.
“That was a deep betrayal,” Newsom said. “That money should not be used to evict and harass Brooklyn residents.”
A spokesperson for Greenbrook declined to comment. Messages to NW1 and the Texas Permanent School Fund seeking comment were not returned.