The tenant that Assembly Member Inez Dickens filed to evict in Housing Court has now endorsed her City Council campaign – and Albert Anderson’s name and face are now on a mailer, with his testimonial saying, in part, “I’ve gone through rough times and she always makes sure I have a roof over my head.”
But it isn’t clear if the 16 other tenants she has moved to evict feel the same way. Court records reviewed by City & State showed that 1389 Construction Corp., of which Dickens serves as president, has filed at least 17 eviction cases since 1987, including five since 2013. Lloyd’s Funding Corp., another company where Dickens is vice president and treasurer, has moved to evict at least another nine tenants since 2016.
Despite that, Dickens falsely claimed she had not evicted anybody at a NY1 debate Tuesday night. When opponent Yusef Salaam asked how many tenants she had evicted, Dickens responded, in part, “I’ve had no evictions,” before adding that she did “start one eviction” with Anderson “because he asked me to take him to court, because that was the only way that he was going to get assistance to get his rent paid.” (That isn’t strictly true – tenants should be able to get city assistance without an eviction notice, but using that threat is a widespread practice to get payment from a city government that has failed to meet the demand for rental assistance.) “Just one?” Salaam followed up. “Just one,” Dickens said.
But Dickens has moved to evict many other tenants. The records did not reflect whether any of the tenants actually had to leave their apartments – “You’re not evicted until you are out,” Dickens campaign spokesperson Lupe Todd-Medina said, and sometimes these cases get resolved – but her campaign did follow up with City & State after the debate to say that Dickens was wrong. One of her companies had in fact evicted a tenant this year. Todd-Medina said the tenant was evicted after being caught on tape assaulting a fellow tenant. Court records reviewed by City & State suggested that Lloyd’s Funding Corp. had filed to evict this tenant twice, citing non-payment of rent, and only in later court filings mentioned the alleged assault. The tenant was evicted from his Harlem apartment on April 14.
Further court records suggest that tenant was not the only one who has been evicted from their apartment. Lloyd’s Funding Corp. obtained an eviction warrant from the city marshal on July 6, 2009 for a different tenant in the same building on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem.
Dickens defended herself as a patient landlord in the debate, noting that Anderson hadn’t paid rent for five years before she took him to Housing Court. Documents suggested Dickens’ company really was trying to evict him – it filed for a warrant of eviction in February that was rejected, but Todd-Medina said that was part of the process to get Anderson money from the city to pay Dickens.
And Anderson himself insisted that he has fully supported his landlord. “I always have endorsed her,” he said in a brief phone call with City & State, adding that the two grew up together. But he was not happy with the coverage of his eviction proceedings, saying “not only did (Dickens) not appreciate it, I did not appreciate it.”
Todd-Medina broadly defended Dickens’ record as a landlord in a lengthy statement, noting that “Inez is not the day-to-day operator of any of the properties, but has of course taken responsibility, as she should.”
“Inez has been very clear that her interest is never to remove tenants from their homes and is always patient when tenants fall behind on their rent, some as much as 4-6 years,” she added, saying the fact that these “sources” tarnish her reputation as a Black property owner in Harlem “and denigrate the name of her late, great father, Assemblyman Lloyd E. Dickens (who bought the buildings) – is an affront to Harlem; it is an absolute disgrace to its cultural and historic fabric.”
Update June 23: This story has been updated to reflect additional eviction cases filed by Lloyd’s Funding Corp., and evidence of a second tenant that was evicted from their home. Additional comment from Dickens’ campaign has also been added.