On Thanksgiving morning, a group of our neighbors at The Dorset, 303 99th Street, right here in Bay Ridge, put their landlord on blast. Their landlord is Alan Polen. Revlyn Management (aka Revlyn Apartments LLC) is the management company.

Over 60 families have been without cooking gas about two months, and tenants have been working with Councilman Justin Brannan and Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus to try and get Alan Polen and his management company to fix these issues. Both of our electeds have given the landlord multiple opportunities to make repairs, and according to tenants, he has grossly neglected his duties to his tenants.

Mr. Polen and Reyvlin Management are refusing to do what’s right, even on Thanksgiving. Even during a pandemic.

Our homes are supposed to be the one safe place we have.

Abdullah younus, resident of 303 99th st.

In the midst of a pandemic when folks are asked to stay in, when so many have lost their jobs, Alan Polen and Reyvlin Management have put 60 families at risk. According to tenants, they’ve sent unlicensed, non-union plumbers and electricians into family’s apartments. This is life-threatening. There is no reason they can’t hire licensed, union workers to address these problems IMMEDIATELY. And if they don’t, they will learn – Bay Ridge supports our neighbors, and we have only begun to show them the power of our ability to organize. If fixes aren’t made, Younus said, “It’s going to hurt your bottom line like you never expected.”

This is a basic human need. Some of us can’t afford to pay extra.

Denise, resident of 303 99th st.

Thanks to Polen and Reyvlin’s refusal to uphold their duty to provide livable condiitons, residents – some of whom have lost their jobs, have small children, or are senior citizens – have been forced to use electronic cooking applicances, driving up electric bills at a time when few can afford additional expense. Heartbreakingly, Denise’s final plea was that she hopes this can “be resolved quickly and without retaliation.”

No one should have to fear retaliation because they demanded their landlord uphold the conditions of their lease and the law.

Sadly, The Dorset isn’t their only building – which means hundreds of other tenants could find themselves in this exact same situation.

Alan Polen and Reyvlin management need to fix this. Now.

A notice from Revlyn Apartments LLC and Alan Polen stating "Due to the complaints put into the city by someone anonymous, the city issued a violation and a stop work order. We are working to resolve the issues. We will keep you posted as more information becomes available to us. Sorry for the inconvenience. - Management"
The notice put up by Alan Polen and Revlyn Apartments LLC, blaming residents for complaining about unsafe work conditions to 311, due to the landlord using unlicensed workers while repairing a gas issue. The notice blames “anonymous” tenants for their own lack of cooking gas.
Stop work orders issued by the Department of Buildings to Revlyn Apartments LLC and Alan Polen, the landlord, for unsafe work conditions.
The stop work orders issued by the NYC Department of Buildings, explicitly declaring the repair work on both electrical and gas lines were unsafe.


Jared Watson, Fifth Avenue Committee

Alright, so we’re ready here? All right. Hi, my name’s Jared Watson. I’m a tenant organizer with Fifth Avenue Committee and I want to thank everybody for coming out here today in support of tenants here at 303 99th Street, uh, who have been without gas for two months during the pandemic and now here on Thanksgiving day.

Uh, unfortunately what tenants here are experiencing is very common, although it is just, uh, evil and cruel and bad so we… it’s very exciting that people are coming together to organize around this. And we here at Fifth Avenue Committee are proud and happy to stand with the tenants and to, uh, ask that our elected officials in Albany, uh, do more to push for stronger tenant regulation or tenant protections because, uh, tenants are already facing eviction in New York.

Uh, so at that I want to really quickly, uh, run through who’s going to speak here today. Obviously my name’s Jared, I work for Fifth Avenue Committee. We also have Michael Leonard from, uh, TakeRoot Justice, who’s been working with tenants here in the building, and I want to thank, uh, Council Member Justin Brannan and Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus for, uh, showing up and supporting tenants.

So, uh, without any further delay here I want to introduce Michael, who’s going to speak very briefly on, uh, HB action.

Michael Leonard, TakeRoot Justice

Hey everyone. Good morning. Happy Thanksgiving to everybody. Thanks so much for having me here today. I had the pleasure to attend a virtual tenant meeting last week, and I was really inspired by how much the building seems like it’s coming together. Right. It’s collective issues that bring us together.

And when we see deprivations of basic services, like cooking gas, and especially today on Thanksgiving, how many people would like to have some food in the oven? And we can’t have that. Right? We can’t have that because our landlord, right? And landlords around the city have deprived people of cooking gas. And we’re not saying that it’s the landlord’s fault that the cooking gas went off.

But we are asking, when is it going to come back on? And we want to, you know, and we want clear answers and we want to be compensated for what we are missing, which is that people in this building pay rent. Right? And they ought to get services. This is basic housing rights, housing rights are human rights.

So when we look around, right, and when we look for the problem, we should look at what’s going on all over the city. Right? And when we see landlords time and time again that cut off services, that, um, that drag their feet in making repairs, we won’t be fooled because we’ve seen that this is a pattern and this pattern leads to rapid change of neighborhoods and how much neighborhoods in this city and in Brooklyn and in this neighborhood in particular have changed over the past 10 years.

So we need to look around and ask ourselves those questions. And when we meet, and when we want to look for solutions, right? I really impress upon you, and in my experience, I’ve seen the most successful tenant unions when they look for solutions, they look to side and side… they look to their neighbors, right?

And they say, how can we do this together? Right? Cause this is a problem that we’re not going to fix as individuals. This is a problem that we’re really only going to be able to fix if we come together and act together.

And as a lawyer from TakeRoot Justice, we’re a nonprofit organization in the city that provides free legal services. We have your backs. We stand with you. We want to continue the conversation and if necessary, uh, we, we stand behind you to take legal action in the court.

So thanks so much for having me here. Um, I’ll leave you with that. But most of all, I just want to say happy Thanksgiving. And let’s continue the conversation.
So once again, thank you.

Jared Watson, Fifth Avenue Committee

Thank you, Michael. And I’d like to introduce Councilmember Brannan.

Councilmember Justin Brannan

Thank you, Jared. Um, so we’re here today. We don’t want to be here today. We don’t, didn’t want to have to drag anybody out here today on Thanksgiving morning. Um, this is something that my office and, and Assemblywoman Frontus’s office, and Senator Gounardes’s office has been working on for a while.

We’re trying to get this done without having to put this landlord on blast. We were trying to mainly get the tenants what they needed. And this has been going on for two months now. And we said, look, you got to get this done by Thanksgiving or else we’re going to come out there and we’re going to put you on blast and the landlord didn’t care.

So that’s why we’re here today. Um, we’re not going to take this and the tenants are not going to take this and it’s our job to stand up for them. Landlords get their rent on the first of the month no matter what. And these guys and people today who, there’s about 60 families here who are now without cooking gas on Thanksgiving which is just not acceptable under any, any circumstances.
Certainly not during a pandemic. Um, so we’re today we’re calling out Alan Polen and Revlyn Management, um, for not doing the right thing here, uh, and not hiring licensed plumbers who know what they’re doing. There’s plenty of licensed union plumbers out there who know what they’re doing, who could probably get this fixed and about a half an hour.

But for whatever reason, Alan Polen and Revlyn Management can’t figure that out. They’re hiring a bunch of clowns who can’t get this done. And now today it’s Thanksgiving and we have no cooking gas. So because this guy’s playing hot potato, today everyone’s going to have cold potatoes for Thanksgiving and we’re sick of it. We’re tired of it.

The city actually is doing the right thing. The buildings department, hallelujah, they’re doing the right thing. It’s Alan and Revlyn management that are not doing the right thing. And we’ve given him chances time and time again to get this done right. Or else we were going to come out here. And now here we are today standing up for the 60 families who don’t have cooking gas today on Thanksgiving.

So I also want to shout out, um, you know, Bay Ridge really is a neighborhood that comes together like a small town. When things get tough. When people fall down. When tenants are in need. Whether they know you or not, strangers become friends and strangers become neighbors.

So I want to thank a couple of local businesses who stepped in when they heard that 60 families were going to be without cooking guests today and without being able to prepare a meal for themselves. Um, they stepped up and they donated meals to whoever needed meals today. So I want to shout out Kettle Black, The Salty Dog. Um, I want to shout out AllState, a local insurer, the local office of AllState that helped to organize these meals. And of course, Bay Ridge Cares a local nonprofit that helps people in need.

So, you know, we’ll take care of our own. We’ll come together. We’ll make sure that these tenants have what they need. But Alan Polen and Revlyn management, they need to step up and they gotta get this fixed because I’ll be damned if we’re going to be standing out here on Christmas morning. This needs to get fixed ASAP or else we’re going to take legal action against him.

Thank you.

Jared Watson, Fifth Avenue Committee

Thank you, council member. Uh, I’d like to introduce Assemblymember Frontus.

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus

Thank you so much. Good morning, everyone. Hard to follow that, but I’m going to try. I’m Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus, and I want to start off by thanking one of the residents who lives here at 303 99th street, Abdullah Younus.

Um, Abdullah Younus is a local activist and community leader here in Bay Ridge. And this is the type of neighborhood that we have here in Bay Ridge. When you have somebody who cares about people, who cares about their neighbors, they stand up and they say something. They do something. So I want to acknowledge this young man who reached out to the Fifth Avenue Committee and brought these fabulous organizers and attorneys here. And together, they were able to bring this to our attention. Thank you so much.
I want to thank also all of the residents for this building, for your patience, for your grace. You shouldn’t have to tolerate this. You deserve so much more than this.

Let me say that I was shocked and outraged when I found out that there were some sixty households here without electrical gas since September. Where do we see this happening? How can this happen right under our noses here in Bay Ridge? So I’m here today with all of the families who are here, who are either standing here listening through their windows, that Assemblywoman Frontus is here, standing in solidarity with you because you do not deserve this. You deserve to live in a safe environment.

And I have to tell you it’s disgraceful. I mean, you shouldn’t have to deal with this on any day. There’s no right day to deal with this, but to deal with this on Thanksgiving! On Thanksgiving. When the landlord knows that this is one of the largest holidays in this country where families want to sit down at the dinner table.

We went through so much this year. We went through a pandemic. We lost so many loved ones. People are still mourning. Everybody is just trying to hold on. And today’s the only day where some people want to sit down and have a little family time and now 60 families in this building are unable to do so. And that really makes me angry.

But the truth is we didn’t have to be here today.

You know, one of my favorite icons, Dr. King, said years ago that the time is always right to do what’s right. And it wasn’t only about racial justice. Those words apply in everyday scenarios. The time is always right to do what’s right.
And so my question is, do we need a press conference? Do we need politicians? Do we need the media here to force the hand of a landlord to do what’s right for his own tenants? Who are paying him rent every single month? It shouldn’t have to take this. I shouldn’t have to be here. We didn’t need to have this press conference today. Because our communities deserve the type of landlords who are going to do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do.

And so I want to echo what the Councilman said that we’re not going to take it. I will not be here on Christmas Day, I’m telling you that. And we need to get this taken care of right away.

Let me also pivot and reiterate something that was said before. You know, I am proud to represent Bay Ridge. I’m proud to represent this community. And you know why? Because Bay Ridge is like a small town as was said before. You know, this is the kind of neighborhood where people will take their shirt off their backs and give it to their neighbor. This is the kind of neighborhood where when someone hears is that a neighbor is in distress, they don’t even have to know who you are. They step up and they get involved.

Yesterday I was with a group of fabulous women, uh, and Vinny Gentile was the only man, and we were handing out meals from Bay Ridge Cares, to hand to volunteers which were picking them up. And I want to acknowledge Kathy Valentine. She’s one of the leaders in the Bay Ridge Cares organization. She’s standing right here. And I just happened like complete happenstance to tell them what was going on, by complete happenstance, I mentioned that I was going to be here today. And in five seconds before I could even finish what I was saying, in the middle of my remark, she got her phone and said, “Hold on one second, I’m going to make a call.” And she literally picked up her phone and called the owners of Salty Dog and all of these other restaurants in Bay Ridge to provide these meals that we have here today. That deserves a round of applause because that’s the kind of neighborhood… that’s the kind of neighborhood that Bay Ridge is.

And that makes me feel so proud because thank God we have people who care. Thank God for people like Abdullah. Thank God for people like Kathy. And together we’re going to fight back. And we’re going to make the landlord do the right thing. Thank you everyone.

Jared Watson, Fifth Avenue Committee

Thank you Assemblymember. I’d like to introduce Abdullah who is a tenant in the building.

Abdullah Younus, Tenant

Thank you. Thank you to our elected officials, Councilmember Brannan, Assemblymember Frontus. Thank you to the organizers, um, who have stepped up, the Fifth Avenue Committee, TakeRoot Justice, and thank you to my fellow tenants who have stepped up to organize and fight back in circumstances that are incredibly scary.

We are in a global pandemic. People are hurting. People are pinching pennies. Many people have lost their jobs. Right now is a time when we want to be with our families. Our homes are supposed to be the one respite we have, right now. To be with our families throughout all of this, this whole situation. So I’m thankful to that.

I’m thankful to my community that has stepped up to give us food because our gas doesn’t work.

But I’m not thankful to Revlyn. I’m not thankful to Alan Polen. I’m not thankful to the crappy landlords that we have all over this city that take advantage of people when they’re hurting the most.

And today we’ve had to have this whole event. That’s not what we want to be doing right now. We don’t want to be doing that at all.

What we want to do is spend time with our families. We want to break bread together, but we can’t. And we have a landlord who for two months has been completely intransigent about giving us what we need. Basic dignity, human rights, cooking gas, so we can cook for our families.

And when he’s been confronted with that, his response has been, “Why are you… why… why… why… why do you keep… why are there continuing to be complaints to 311 about the illegal construction?” He has the gall to blame us, that tenants!
We’ve got… we’ve got cracked gas pipes. We want a licensed plumber to do construction on our gas pipes. And he has the gall to tell us that, “Oh, let me cut corners and we’ll get this done.” But you know what? It’s not getting done, and the way you’re trying to get it done is incredibly dangerous.

And I’ve seen you. I know that you’re out there skiing. You’re a rich dude. You don’t need this. We don’t need this.

Just… just pony up the money, put up the cash, or we’re going to keep escalating. We know you have other buildings. We know they’ve got problems too. And you know what? The problems we have with our gas in this building? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. So either deal with this or we’re just going to keep going, and it’s not going to stop. What we’ve been able to do right now over the last month?

What we’ve been able to accomplish as a community in the last month is nothing. It’s the tip of the spear. What you’re going to get if you don’t fix this is going to get beat… it’s going to hurt your bottom line in ways you never expected. And you’re going to wish that you had just called that plumber on day one.

Anyway. Thank you everybody for being here and thank you again for everybody that is… that it’s fighting alongside us. Giving us the solidarity we need to thrive. Thank you.

Jared Watson, Fifth Avenue Committee

Thank you Abdullah. That seems to have riled people up. That’s very good. Uh, do we have the Denise here? Denise, if you wouldn’t mind speaking.

Denise, Tenant

Okay, I’m going to try my best cause I’m not really a good public speaker. So I’m going to try my best. Um.

Stuff like this gets me really emotional because it could be… it could have been handled more humane… with more humanity. Especially during this time. It’s a basic need. Some of us can’t afford to buy the extra. That now we have to do. Take out. Maybe some electric, um, electric, uh, appliances for cooking. That’s all extra stuff. During the pandemic.

We don’t have the extra to do that. They didn’t, they didn’t even let us know personally that this was going to take weeks. They didn’t reach out and say, how can I help to make this better? But they do demand rent.

So I mean… it’s hard for me to speak and I’m also scared of retaliation against… Someone who has more money than I do. So I’m so happy that there’s somebody, you know, there’s people here that will support us. That we’re not alone. Because I do feel alone. So I… I’m so thankful for everybody. Organizers. Councilman. Thank you for showing your support. Thank you for making me feel brave enough to, you know, speak my mind here today.

So I hope this can be, this can be resolved quickly, but also very safely and without retaliation against us. Because all we are asking is for basic human dignity. So thank you.

Jared Watson, Fifth Avenue Committee

Thats the last person we have on our agenda. If anybody would like to take this opportunity to to speak really briefly. Go right ahead. Sorry.


Hello. Um, I wasn’t, I wasn’t sure I was looking to speak. But I will, uh, I mean my apartment, I don’t know how many people have had like actual workers in their apartment? But my place has been an absolute disaster construction zon for the last week. And apparently the plumbers that were working, I didn’t even realize that they were unlicensed, but I’ve also had an unlicensed electrician in my place doing work and that I was told was a licensed electrician.

Um, and yeah, I mean, this is unacceptable. It’s just. That’s not acceptable. It needs to be fixed ASAP. That’s all.

Khari Edwards, Candidate for Borough President

Good morning, everybody. My name is Khari Edwards and I just wanted to say… when the Councilman sent out the batcall, I came all the way over from Crown Heights. What I wanted to really say to you guys… Thank you.

You have two great elected officials who believe in this community. And when they call, we come. But we’re going to face a huge housing shortage as we move out of COVID. And somehow these landlords feel that just because they put a roof over someone’s head that that’s enough and these conditions are deplorable.

And when we look at our health and our housing, they go together. And the stress and the anxiety that this young lady feels and all of these tenants… it’s…. it’s criminal. And I think that what we do is we use our language. We use our opportunity to keep Tweeting, keep posting, keep bringing these guys to the forefront.

Because things do have to change. And the more that you guys work, the Fifth Avenue Committee works to save people’s houses. This needs to be our number one priority. So thank you for having me.

Justin Wilson, Tenant

Good morning. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Thank you guys for coming out. I just want to speak for some of the tenants of the building, cause like I’ve, I’ve been able to talk to a lot of my tenants and I usually look around, we have 60 families in here with just children, from babies to adults, to senior citizens.

Uh, my name’s Justin Wilson. I’m a tenant of the building. Yes, I am.

So just to let you guys know, it’s just like there’s children here. There’s babies here. There’s adults and other senior citizens who need disabilities. There’s meals on wheels that get delivered every day to this building. So when we see, when we see injustice of, like, just having natural cooking gas come into the building and you can’t even provide Turkeys or anything else.

It’s, it’s a, it’s a small problem inside of a bigger one. But right now we’re just dealing with this and it’s like, we very much appreciate you. And we appreciate you guys coming out and like literally giving us your time to help us. So thank you so much. And it’s like, as long as we can keep this going.

Jared Watson, Fifth Avenue Committee

All right. If uh, we don’t have anybody else who would like to speak, I want to wrap this up. Let’s… let’s close with a chant, okay? Uh, everybody probably knows this one. Uh…

Fight Fight Fight. Housing is a human right.
Fight Fight Fight. Housing is a human right.
Fight Fight Fight. Housing is a human right.

Thanks everybody.

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