Pol: Prospect Park Residence landlord is ‘evil’

Sticking together: Vicky Sell, left, a relative of a former Prospect Park Residence tenant, and Councilman Brad Lander, right stand with tenants Helen Hallenborg, seated on left, and Lillian Marks.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A Park Slope pol says the owner of a Grand Army Plaza old-folks home who is allegedly harassing seniors to evict them is “evil.”

Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) ratcheted up his criticism of Prospect Park Residence owner Haysha Deitsch over his efforts to give the boot to elderly residents of the assisted-living facility at 1 Prospect Park West, saying Deitsch is trying to convert the building into luxury condos, and that his latest tactics add a whole new layer of deviousness to the equation.

“We’ve known for a long time he is morally bankrupt, but this is active evil,” Lander said. “Most people’s mothers taught them not to profit off the pain of elderly people and Holocaust survivors.”

In his denouncement, Lander joins families of Residence tenants who claim Detisch is intentionally making conditions at the facility unlivable to drive them out. The families have been battling Deitsch in court since Mary, shortly after he told residents they had three months to pack their bags. Most have found new accommodations, but nine seniors remain, some of whose families say they are too frail to move.

A judge has repeatedly pushed back the eviction, requiring Deitsch to make good on the tenants’ leases, but his foes accuse him of firing most of his staff, dimming lights in the halls, serving less nutritional food, and at least once leaving the front door open with no doorman.

“His plan is to torture people out of the building,” Lander said. “It is very difficult to stay when there are such deplorable conditions, I am more and more outraged by his evil, immoral, and defiant behavior.”

Deitsch’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment, but a letter filed in court on Oct. 31 disputes the accusations of neglect and in turn accuses tenants of failing to pay rent and holding an “unauthorized musical performance” in the building.

Lander said that Deitsch has failed to cash some tenants’s checks but denied that there was any sort of rent strike.

Lander and a handful of remaining tenants, most of whom are older than 90, demonstrated at the building on Nov. 1.

Trying to turn a profit by kicking out elderly residents would be bad enough, Lander said, but Deitsch continued to take in new tenants even as he was filing a closure plan with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“He could have let people move out over time and not filled vacancies, but he was so greedy he said, ‘We can’t miss one month’s rent,’ ” Lander said.

There may be a case to sue Deitsch for fraud for continuing to take in tenants when he knew the facility’s days were numbered, the pol posited.

Deitsch bought the property in 2006 for just more than $40 million. Many of the residents who were forced to move out in the spring said they were happy at the facility, but it has also been the target of other litigation, including a wrongful death lawsuit by the nephew of “kung-fu judge” John Phillips, who died there in 2008 after a period of severe neglect, according to his nephew.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhuro‌witz@‌cnglo‌cal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Hands off: Hannah Eskin, one of nine remaining residents at Prospect Park Residence, sits in the lobby with her daughter Arlene Glotzer, left, and Barbara Brown, an aide.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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