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Clinton Hill Co-op’s Long Nightmare Is Over

Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

Clinton Hill Handymen

A truce has been declared in the battle over evicted handymen at Clinton Hill Co-op (image via Google Maps).

May 24, 2019

An impassioned battle to keep a live-in handyman from being evicted from his rent-free apartment in the Clinton Hill Cooperative has been resolved. The handyman, Hector Caballero, and his family will be allowed to stay in their home of 19 years – but they must start paying a below-market rent, Patch reports. 

Some 700 residents of the co-op, a 12-building complex of 1,200 apartments near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, had signed a petition objecting to the co-op board’s decision to take back the free apartments occupied by Caballero and another handyman. The board said its action was prompted by the fact that four handymen had rent-free apartments under a verbal agreement, but the other 30 staffers did not enjoy such a perk. Furthermore, the board said, the current workload no longer justified four live-in handymen. (The co-op’s two live-in supers have free apartments, in accordance with union contracts.) The board decided the arrangement with the handymen ran contrary to its fiduciary duties to all shareholders, and in February it announced the plan to take back the two apartments and evict the two handymen. The ensuing dispute garnered extensive media coverage, including a headline in the New York Times that called it a “gentrification battle royale.” 

“Both sides are equally happy now,” says the co-op’s manager, Steve Greenbaum, senior vice president and director of property manager at Charles H. Greenthal. “The handyman stays in his apartment at a reduced rent, and he keeps his job.”

The same deal is being offered to the other live-in handyman, who, after being told he would be evicted, moved out of his apartment, according to board secretary Audrey Churchill. "We want to be fair to both handymen, who still work for our co-op,” she says. 

“In the beginning we made some missteps, misjudging the reaction,” board president Timo Lipping told the Times before the settlement was reached. “But we’re not professionals. We’re just volunteers.”

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