Slumlord Jared Kushner Will Keep His NYC Buildings Fully Stocked With Mold, Roaches During Pandemic
Jared Kushner is not just a Ken Doll with its brain surgically removed, he's also a scumbag slumlord. Remember when he was running the Kushner Companies and used a scuzzy combination of fake documents and harassment to force out tenants from rent-regulated apartments? Or how he cheerfully evicted people from his sewage-and-mold infested crap holes? And you can't forget how he had judges order the arrest of poor people who were behind on their rent.
But that was all pre-coronavirus outbreak. Kushner is now the senior adviser to his father-in-law, Donald Trump, and has assisted the president in his half-assed response to the pandemic. (His "shadow coronavirus task force," which will never help anyone, also violates multiple laws.) Kushner should appreciate how the suddenly stalled economy has impacted lower-income people the most. Besides, it's almost impossible to shelter-in-place without shelter.
Mother Jones uncovered emails and correspondence from Westminster Management, which the Kushner Companies owns. (Kushner stepped down as chief executive when he joined the White House but he's still a major stakeholder in the company, because ethics smethics.) Tenants in multiple New York City buildings received notices about rent collection during the pandemic. Westminster was kindly launching a new online platform and would graciously accept payment by credit or debit card ... for a fee! They could even pay by e-check for an additional fee. But the notices didn't acknowledge that most of those tenants had likely lost their jobs. On March 21, tenants received an email telling telling them to sign up for the new payment platform "asap." The company wished the tenants would "all stay safe and healthy in these challenging times," but did not seem interested in making the times less challenging. Tenants were told to expect fewer services and that anything but emergency maintenance would have to wait until the crisis had passed. It's a good idea to reduce the physical interactions between the building staff and tenants, but the management company should rightly suspend or at the very least reduce payments until everything's back to normal.
"Please all be safe and healthy," the March 21 message concluded. "We will get through this, it is all just a matter of time."
It's impossible to stay “safe and healthy" if you're evicted. I'm so damn tired of the overly rosy “we will get through this" messages when countless people are already fucked seven ways to Sunday and perhaps permanently so. This is as shallow a gesture as giving a thumb's up to a homeless person you pass on the street. Kushner's management company didn't lift a finger to help the tenants “get through this," despite having it within their power to do so.
Westminster might even benefit from New York's shutdown. One of its properties, 18 Sidney Place in Brooklyn, has at least two code enforcement violations, including one for mold and the other for roaches. According to Streeteasy, the rent for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit in that building is $3,750. Westminster could probably afford to remove the mold and roaches. There's no evidence that the company has complied. There's also an ongoing lawsuit against the building for overcharging tenants. These legal matters are all on hold now.
Trump's family is technically barred from receiving any funds from the Senate's stimulus bill. But there's always fine print, and the New York Times reports that a provision in the bill "might not preclude funds from going to companies owned by the family of Mr. Trump's son-in-law." See, Trump's "spouse, child, son-in-law or daughter-in-law" can't cash in unless they "directly or indirectly" own or control 20 percent or more of a specific company. Kushner apparently rarely owns that much in his family firm's real estate holdings. Ownership (and accountability) is divided among Kushner, his parents, and his three siblings, along with other outside investors. He could also benefit from the separate $300 billion for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Anyone who agreed to these loopholes is either complicit or a fool-flavored sucker.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."