Filed under: Action, Community Organizing, Featured, Health Care, Housing, Southeast
Apartment residents in Florida are organizing against ongoing problems of black mold and leaking sewage. In coming together, they’ve faced attacks from slumlords. Now, on July 5th, they’re calling for a call-in campaign to demand an end to this nightmare that has affected generations of tenants.
by The Palm Beach Tenants Union & The Stonybrook Residents Council
Stonybrook Apartments is a section 8 multi-family housing project in Riviera Beach, Florida. Over the past decade conditions within the community and its buildings have sunk to an unbearable level. Black mold is so prevalent parents share a breathing machine between their units; thanks to this mold children have developed asthma and worse. Mothers have taken their ill children to the doctor to find out from tests that they have lead in their system. Sewage backs up and fills bathtubs and kitchen sinks, as well as areas of the grounds itself.
Operation: Liberate Stonybrook
“Everyone here is sick all the time,” the tenants tell us, yet they aren’t allowed to sit outside their unit (to discourage “criminal activity”) per the property management’s rules. Fees incurred from breaking management’s rules are enough to keep one inside, as families don’t have the economic flexibility to do anything other than clean the mold they can find and hope that they can minimize the amount of mold spores their forced to inhale.
These people are being kept prisoner as they’re children get sicker and sicker. They have been denied their most basic freedoms and the local government couldn’t care less.
Capital Don’t Care
The property is managed by Millennia Housing Management, a Cleveland company started and owned by Frank Sinito, son of Thomas Sinito, a caporegime in the Cleveland Crime Family. In the early 80’s, Tommy was convicted of drug trafficking, voluntary manslaughter, racketeering and other criminal and financial crimes, and spent his last 15 years of life in prison. In the 70’s, the Cleveland Family ran a public housing scam known now as the Model Cities Scandal, in which bribed members of the government funneled money earmarked for affordable housing projects to mafia-run companies. Now, in 2018, Frank Sinito lives in a $5 million dollar mansion with a private lake in Willoughby Ohio that would make Scarface blush.
He owns affordable housing properties across the country and is guaranteed fair market housing prices on every unit by the federal government, and in Stonybrook and other projects across the country, none of that money is going where it’s supposed to. Irreparable damage is being done to the bodies of the people of Stonybrook on a generational level. Anyone who speaks out is intimidated or displaced.
None of this is mentioned in the glowing press reviews of Frank and the ambitions of his company. Nobody hears the pleas of the tenants in Stonybrook.
Violence Against Tenants And Open Class War
HUD has been silent, not responding to complaints made by tenants nor by our calls. Millennia has sent their “tenant advocate” sheepdog to divide residents and get them under company control, refocusing their outrage onto each other and away from the company that’s filling its pockets by not having to spend a dime on the property.
“I’m here to represent you,” he told the tenants in a meeting we held. They gave him a petition requesting the removal of their abusive property manager and he responded by showing the names of the petitioners to the property manager (oh, and NOT removing her from her position).
Crystal Lewis and a group of other courageous tenants have decided they’ve had enough, and with seemingly nothing to lose they formed the Stonybrook Residents Council, a way for them to gather strength in numbers and change what the empty promises of politicians couldn’t. One of their first orders of business was to have the management company remove the property manager. Quietly they passed around a petition, hand to hand, for weeks amongst the residents and when they felt confident they had enough signatures they presented the petition to the corporate liaison of the management company.
As a result of this Crystal, who is co-chair of the Stonybrook Residents Council, has had her car destroyed by vandalism, the third time in the past six months that she’s been organizing and speaking out.
When Crystal approached management about any security camera footage to capture the vandalism she was met with cold indifference. The capitalist dogs told her the cameras didn’t capture anything. There were four security cameras in the vicinity.
The cameras seem to work for management however. Allies from outside the development are routinely surrounded by cops as soon as they enter. These guests of the tenants are told they are trespassing, that property management decisions override any civil rights under HUD regulations.
This has to end.
The level of barbarism shown to the people of Stonybrook is an injustice that the tenants compare to the treatment of prisoners. Except they’ve had no day in court, nor have they been guilty of any crime. In reality, this punishment is being carried out against them for the crime of being poor, for having no voice, no representation in their government, and being isolated from the rest of their society, no ears to hear their pleas. It is critical, for the plight of every single one of us of the poor and working class, to support their struggle because if Stonybrook does not find justice and does not get liberation, then none of us will.
How You Can Help
We are asking comrades across the country to call in to both the management of Sunnybrook and the umbrella company which currently runs Millennia Housing Management’s slums. Maybe if they know enough people are aware of the damage being done they might be ready to fufill the demands The Stonybrook Residents Council.
The day for the call in is Thursday, July 5th. Please let everyone know!
The Stonybrook office can be reached at: 561-844-9055
Millennia Housing Management can be reached by phone at: 216-520-1250, extension 771
Propaganda can be faxed to them at 216-447-9646
If comrades in Cleveland would like to pay them a visit they can be found at:
Millennia Housing Management, Ltd.
4000 Key Tower
127 Public Square
Cleveland, OH 44114-1309
“Hi, I’m calling on behalf of the Stonybrook residents. Is there any reason you refuse to do basic maintenance on the housing there? Why have you allowed black mold to infest the apartments? Are you aware children are testing positive for lead? Are you aware there could be legal repercussions for this kind of neglect?”
Millennia Housing Management also has a twitter account. It’d be wonderful if you’d pay them a visit.
@POTUS officially declared Apr'18 Fair Housing Month. @MillenniaCo is proud of it's 25yrs of providing safe & affordable housing. It's the foundation of our business & join @HUDgov & @SecretaryCarson as we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. #FairHousingis50 pic.twitter.com/gUApKif4lg
— The Millennia Companies (@MillenniaCo) April 4, 2018
If you post anything on twitter about the class struggle in Stonybrook we ask you do so with the hashtag #LiberateStonybrook. Let’s get it trending!
Mutual Aid Needed!
Crystal, like many working class people and women of color, works full time and does not have the funds set aside for the kind of retaliatory violence. She’s simply too busy trying to provide for her children and keep a roof over their heads, on top of trying to save the community she lives in.
We ask that you please join us in our effort to support our amazing friend Crystal. Anything you can give to help her right now would go a long way to easing her mind as she struggles to overcome the indifference of HUD, politicians, and a billion dollar real estate company that doesn’t feel any urgency about children inhaling black mold spores in their sleep.
The gofundme for her is here: https://www.gofundme.com/help-tenant-leader039s-vandalized-car
Please share it around!
Together we can liberate Stonybrook.
Together we can liberate the working class.
We refuse to be intimidated!
The Palm Beach County Tenants Union can be reached at +1 414-909-9186
or at http://www.pbctu.org
Please like their Facebook group:
and their twitter page: