[Page 1 of the Journal from Tuesday]
Since the election, Jared Kushner, President-elect Donald Trump's son-in-law, has been the subject of Page 1 stories in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times ... as well as the cover of the latest issue of Forbes...
As the Times and other media outlets have reported, Kushner, 35, who is married to Trump’s elder daughter, Ivanka, "is exploring the prospects of joining the administration as a formal, but unpaid, adviser." During the presidential campaign, Kushner became an integral member of Trump's inner circle.
Kushner has been running his family’s real-estate business, Kushner Companies. According to the Times, "the Kushners have acquired $7 billion worth of commercial and residential property over the last decade."
In recent years, starting in 2013, Kushner has bought 40-plus buildings in the East Village. According to the Cooper Square Committee, only Steve Croman owns more residential buildings in the East Village than Kushner does.
And as we've noted in multiple posts, there hasn't been any shortage of tenant horror stories since Kushner and his management company, Westminster City Living, became the landlord. For instance, back in March, tenants at 118 E. Fourth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue went to Manhattan Housing Court as part of ongoing litigation against Kushner. Tenants there had been without gas for cooking since October 2015. There were other issues too, such as collapsed ceilings, overflowing trash and sporadic heat. (Kushner eventually settled with the tenants.)
Brandon Kielbasa at the Cooper Square Committee told Gothamist in March that Kushner "treats both rent-stabilized and market-rate tenants badly, and seems to feel that he can get away with not maintaining buildings because the housing market is so tight he can keep them full anyway."
In July 2014, DNAinfo reported that "Kushner is using lawsuits, disruptive construction and neglect to force rent-stabilized tenants out of two buildings [170-174 E. Second St.] he owns in the East Village, as he converts them to high-end apartments, according to court documents and residents."
Meanwhile, around that same time, the Daily News filed a story with the headline "Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner forcing residents out of East Village building so he can get higher rents: tenants."
Yesterday, DNAinfo filed a lengthy piece on a lawsuit that a resident at 331 E. Ninth St. filed against Kushner. Uta Winkler, a rent-stabilized tenant, said in court papers that her kitchen was destroyed several days before Thanksgiving in 2013 by construction workers renovating an unoccupied unit above her apartment.
Two weeks later, Winkler had to endure more mayhem when she came home to find that a construction worker carrying dirty water and debris on the floor above hers had crashed through her bedroom ceiling, landing on her bed, court document said.
The fall destroyed her bed and other furniture, but Westminster refused to reimburse her for the damage or even return her calls, court papers said.
Without a response, Winkler withheld her monthly rent, which reportedly prompted the Kushner Companies to sue her for the unpaid rent in 2015 in Manhattan Housing Court. DNAinfo reported that the company also sued tenants in two other units, include new market-rate residents, in the building for also withholding rent because of the disruptions from construction. (Those two other tenants then each filed counter-suits against Kushner.)
As a way to improve its image, Westminster introduced a new program this fall called Westminster Cares (not to be confused with this Westminster Cares), a partnership with the Educational Alliance...
The kick-off party was Nov. 17 at the 14th Street Y. Per the fliers, "This new program gives you an opportunity to serve your community while getting to know your fellow Westminster neighbors." The slogan: "Mingle. Give Back. Repeat."
The event prompted the Cooper Square Committee to release a statement asking, "Westminster Cares – About Who?!"
Said Kielbasa: "Every week we have Kushner tenants calling our office to get issues resolved. The problems they face range from not getting security deposits back, not getting lease renewals, having chronic mixups with their rent payments, and having difficulties getting repairs. If Westminster really cares, they need to get better at managing their properties."
For their part, Westminster provided DNAinfo with a statement for yesterday's article about their ongoing work in maintaining their portfolio:
"As with all our properties, we are committed to providing a high level of service for our tenants across that portfolio, which is nearly fully leased. We couldn't maintain that level of occupancy or service without investing in essential building infrastructure, so we consistently make meaningful upgrades in our walkup buildings across the city on behalf of our residents."
In a Page 1 story on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal cited Kushner's business activities that could potentially raise conflict-of-interest issues if he is named to a staff position in the Trump administration. (Possible solutions include Kushner selling his assets and putting the money into a trust.)
As the Trump told the Times last week, "Jared’s a very smart guy. He’s a very good guy. The people that know him, he’s a quality person and I think he can be very helpful." (The Times contacted dozens of politicians, diplomats and journalists in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Very few of them were familiar with Kushner.)
Upon reading the news of the possibility of Kushner brokering peace, one resident wrote on Facebook last week: "The Middle East is gonna have to wait until he fixes my sink. Might be forever."
Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] Report: Jared Kushner buys $130 million portfolio of East Village rental buildings
Report: Jared Kushner paid $49 million for 7 more Ben Shaoul-owned properties in the East Village
More about Jared Kushner's East Village buying spree
Soon, we will all be writing our rent checks to Jared Kushner
Tenants claim: Kushner and Westminster want to destroy this building's beautiful garden
Reports outline how Kushner Companies is aggressively trying to empty 170-174 E. 2nd St.
Local politicos join residents of 2 Jared Kushner-owned buildings to speak out about poor living conditions, alleged harassment
Jared Kushner's residents at 118 E. 4th St. would like gas for cooking and some heat