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This landlord in NYC just became a billionaire thanks to gentrification

Joel Weiner, a New York real estate magnate, has a net worth of $1 billion, but his riches have come at the expense of low-income tenants according to a report by Bloomberg.

Weiner, whose Pinnacle Group owns over 10,000 units across Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Queens, is the subject of numerous lawsuits across his many holdings, with tenants alleging neglect and soaring rent prices.

Kim Powell is the founder of Buyers and Renters United to Save Harlem, a group that has worked to shed light on improprieties by landlords in New York City. Powell told Bloomberg about the role that landlords play in gentrification and hurting tenants in low-income housing.

Bloomberg reported:

“Powell and other critics say landlords like Wiener are helping to accelerate the demise of affordable housing by snapping up buildings in once undesirable neighborhoods and driving out existing tenants with high rents.”

Powell asserted that Weiner and Pinnacle Group drive tenants out through soaring rent prices and allowing buildings to fall into disrepair. She told Bloomberg, “The harassment comes dressed up in a pinstripe suit. This is a family empire that’s mushroomed into a billion-dollar estate.”

Pinnacle Group is involved with a variety of lawsuits across New York City’s boroughs, with allegations ranging from building neglect, to unfair rent inflation, to trying to build a parking garage that threatens the stability of a building.

At one building in Brooklyn, tenants are claiming that Weiner’s group has let the property fall apart in order to get tenants to leave. According to Bloomberg:

“Residents, who asked not to be identified because they live in the building, also say Pinnacle neglected the property to get tenants to leave in order to raise rents.”

Weiner’s lawyer Ken Fisher told Bloomberg that the landlord is simply providing good, hands-on management. Fisher said the changes to Weiner’s buildings, “Might have felt like gentrification to long-term residents who were accustomed to sub-standard living conditions, but it’s just good management.”

There’s a fine line between cleaning up buildings or making improvements and actively driving out previous tenants.

The last 15 years of gentrification in New York City have left low-income tenants with fewer housing options.

Mayor Bill de Blasio made affordable housing a key issue in his reelection campaign, it would be great to see some sort of initiative or legislation to halt the rising tides of gentrification. We need to make the city affordable for all New Yorkers.