Real estate professional Barry Hers reveals details of his multi-million dollar renovation project in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens area of Flatbush, Brooklyn.
With decades of real estate experience in New York City, Barry Hers reveals the story behind the building at 60 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a residential neighborhood in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, which the property expert renovated and entered into New York’s Emergency Assistance Rental Program in response to concerns surrounding growing homelessness in the city.
“In 1995 I purchased the building at 60 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a residential neighborhood in the Flatbush area of the borough of Brooklyn, explains Hers, whose office is located on 52nd Street in Borough Park, in the southwestern part of the same New York City borough.
At the time, the property was run down and subject to over 1,500 Department of Housing Preservation and Development violations, plus a further 100 or more general building code breaches, according to Hers.
Under New York City’s Housing Maintenance Code, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development issues such violations when conditions in rental properties are deemed to violate the appropriate maintenance codes or multiple dwelling laws. “Violations are readily issued but only closed again once any and all problems have been rectified, as observed and verified by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development,” Hers reveals.
Accordingly, having purchased the building, Hers and his firm worked tirelessly, and at significant expense, to clear the outstanding violations, renovating the property and transforming it into what he refers to as ‘an appealing, working-class environment’ in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. “My firm and I transformed 60 Clarkson Avenue from a building full of crime and drugs into an appealing, working-class environment in Flatbush’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens,” says the real estate professional.
Barry Hers estimates that he poured in excess of 10 million dollars into renovations and maintenance at the address. “Shortly after that, New York City found itself in the throes of a shortage of shelters for the homeless,” he points out, adding that since the beginning of his decades-long career in real estate, he’s continuously maintained a desire to help the homeless and less fortunate wherever possible.
“I offered to help and dedicated the building, which I’d put my own money, blood, and sweat into renovating, to the cause, known as the Emergency Rental Assistance Program,” Hers reveals.
The program, initiated by Rudy Giuliani and favored by then-mayor Michael Bloomberg, saw properties such as Hers’ building at 60 Clarkson Avenue become so-called ‘cluster sites,’ a form of shelter for homeless and less fortunate families and individuals living in New York City.
Years later, however, when a newly-appointed subsequent administration took over the city and its programs, huge cuts were made surrounding funding for the homeless and disadvantaged. “This made it almost impossible for me to continue my efforts at 60 Clarkson Avenue,” explains Hers, “and it soon came to a point where my firm and I were being choked, having housed hundreds of families for over three years, and losing millions of dollars in the process for simply wanting to help the city. ” Despite the city initially agreeing to new, aggressively cut rates, even these vastly reduced sums remained unpaid, according to Hers, leaving him, he says, unable to continue working with the authorities.
“The city,” he adds, “was technically making everyone at 60 Clarkson Avenue homeless once again, which as a family man, I simply couldn’t bear the thought of, while simultaneously painting a picture to the media whereby which I was evicting innocent homeless people, when in reality that was not true at all.”
Instead, says Barry Hers, it was the city and its new administration which were putting countless families and individuals at risk of homelessness by refusing to pay for vital shelter ,expecting Mr. Hers and his firm to continue their efforts at a significant, multi-million dollar loss, borrowing from banks to cover heat, property taxes, maintenance and water.”
“After legal proceedings were brought against me by the legal aids, ” he explains, “the court was able to see through this and ruled in my favor by granting me the right to house new tenants. As such, and with the ruling in my favor,” he adds, wrapping up, “I’ve been forced to reevaluate the rent-stabilized nature of operations at 60 Clarkson Avenue in order to begin recouping my losses.”
As of today, the city still owes him 19 million dollars in unpaid expenses, which he is currently counter claiming, having housed over 350 homeless families at the address since 2015 despite receiving no financial compensation throughout this period, not to mention the toll this has taken on Mr. Hers emotionally.