‘I Put in White Tenants’ — Brooklyn Landlord
The topic of gentrification and how it’s affecting African-American communities is a sore subject for many of us, with some in our community even completely oblivious to exactly what’s happening. As hundreds of historically black neighborhoods across the country continue to be wiped out under the guise of creating a “more diverse” and “progressive” society, those within our circle who were originally championing the movement are even running dry when attempting to convince us that the pros of gentrified neighborhoods outweigh the cons.
But if you really want the ugly truth behind exactly how this process is targeting black people and forcing them out of their own neighborhoods in mass numbers, look no further than this shameless Jewish landlord “Ephraim,” who breaks it down all too well during his anonymous conversation with a NY Magazine editor while riding through Brooklyn on a sunny morning.
“We’re small, so we look into places that haven’t caught on — we just did a place on Nostrand Avenue. People are not even there yet. We put in $600,000 and everyone was laughing at us. “It’s crazy, you’re over there. A building for yuppies, white people? It’s not going to work.”
The building was full of tenants — $1,300, $1,400 tenants. We paid every tenant the average of twelve, thirteen thousand dollars to leave. I actually went to meet them — lawyers are not going to help you. And we got them out of the building and now we have tenants paying $2,700, $2,800, and they’re all white.
So this is what we do.”
But don’t worry, guys. He’s not racist. Really, he promises he’s not.
My saying is — again, I’m not racist — every black person has a price. The average price for a black person here in Bed-Stuy is $30,000 dollars. Up over there in East New York, it’s $10,000 dollars.
Everyone wants them to leave, not because we don’t like them, it’s just they’re messing up — they bring everything down. Not all of them.”
And not only are these common law crooks capitalizing off of the economic hardships plaguing black communities by buying them out of their own homes, they’re also banking on the fact that many black people aren’t aware that even the highest of payouts offered in exchange for their homes are grossly undervalued on purpose by the landlords that offer them “big” money to leave.
Sometimes it’s really tricky because you’ll have one person willing to leave for $2,000 and another wants $20,000. And the second this guy finds out that guy is getting 20 he says, “Hell no, I’m not leaving. I want 20, too.”
They don’t know — here he lowers his voice — that even if they get the money and they left, they could always come back. They don’t know that part. And it’s so scary sometimes because they could come up in the middle of construction and say, “It’s my property, I didn’t understand what I was signing, and I want to come back.”
In case all of this isn’t enough to allow you to see gentrification for what it really is, the landlord also shed some light on just how racist things can get when his white tenants realize a black person is residing in the same building.
“If there’s a black tenant in the house—in every building we have, I put in white tenants. They want to know if black people are going to be living there. So sometimes we have ten apartments and everything is white, and then all of the sudden one tenant comes in with one black roommate, and they don’t like it. They see black people and get all riled up, they call me: “We’re not paying that much money to have black people live in the building.” They’re the ones that are paying and I have to give them what they want. Or I’m not going to get the tenants and the money is not going to be what it is.
The scary part about doing this is, if the black guys start to realize how much the property will sell for. None of them realize yet—some of them do—the amount of money you can get. The scary part is they’re going to realize they can get the same exact house in East New York for $400,000, $500,000 and they can get paid $1.5 million for their home in Bed-Stuy, they’re going to start dumping houses on the market and the market’s going to be flooded and it’s going to cool down.”
Time to wake up, ladies and gentlemen. And time to stay woke.