Tenants of city’s ‘worst landlord’ demand meeting amid dangerous living conditions

Tenants of 776 Crown St. and 1616 President St. demand a meeting with their landlord — one of the worst in the city.
Photo by Ben Verde

Tenants of one of the city’s “worst landlords” are demanding a meeting with the property owner after years of unsafe conditions in their Crown Heights apartment building, the residents say.

Apartment dwellers at 776 Crown St. say their landlord Jason Korn, who topped the Public Advocate’s list of the worst slumlords in 2019 and 2020, has allowed their homes to deteriorate, with only patchwork repairs being done when a full overhaul is needed. Now, the tenants are calling for a ground-up repair of the crumbling building. 

“I think it’s very important that they move us out so they can fix the building from the ground up,” said Marlene Charles, who has lived in the building near Utica Avenue for over a decade. “It doesn’t make sense — they come to patch stuff, they patch and come back one month, two months later, we go back to square one.”

Tenants say the building is full of leaks and mold, and has suffered multiple ceiling collapses. 

“There’s always something leaking here,” Charles said.

Resident Monide Apollon, who lives in the building with her 6-year-old daughter, says her apartment is riddled with mold, has no fire detector, and has had the ceiling collapse on her in the bathroom. 

Apollon says the mold in her apartment is so bad her daughter has developed asthma. When her landlord sent an inspector to the apartment to check for mold, Apollon says he claims he found none. But when she brought her own inspector after calling 311, so much mold was found that the city advised her to relocate with her daughter, which she says she can’t afford to do. 

“I don’t have anywhere to go with my daughter,” she said. “And my rent goes up!” 

Tenants at other Korn-owned buildings say the dangerous conditions at 776 Crown St. are in line with what they experience. Tenants from 1616 President St., who have been on a rent strike in protest of their building’s condition for months, joined Crown Street tenants for a rally on May 13, and are encouraging them to join the strike. 

President Street tenant Angela Robinson says her ceilings have collapsed in her kitchen and bathroom multiple times, and that she deals with leaks and mold as well. 

“I have leaks, one time in my bathroom, my neighbor could see me in my tub, that’s how bad the conditions were,” she said. 

Korn’s buildings are simply unfit for humans to live in, Robinson argued.

“Is this a living condition for adults?” she said. “It’s not right for us. We’re human beings, not animals — we shouldn’t have to live like animals. It’s digusting, and we’re sick of it!” 

Korn could not be reached for comment by deadline. 

According to tenant organizer and City Council candidate Michael Hollingsworth, Korn’s neglect of his properties shows that he no longer deserves to conduct business in New York City, and that the city needs to apply the same standards to landlords they do to other businesses. 

“If he owned a restaurant and it was terrible, they would shut him down right?” Hollingsworth said. “Would they allow him to open a restaurant right next door? No, right? But for some reason in this city, we continue to let him mistreat folks and own building after building.”