Jared Kushner’s former real estate company may have exposed children to toxic dust as part of a campaign to push out rent-controlled tenants, according to a new lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed by nineteen tenants of 184 Kent Ave. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and alleged that Kushner Cos., starting in June 2015, used unsafe construction as a technique to oust tenants in an attempt to convert the building into luxury condos. The tenants are asking for $10 million in damages.
The Daily News reports:
“The intentional and negligent actions of (Kushner Cos.) have caused plaintiffs, and young children, to be exposed to a constant cloud of toxic smoke and dust, illegal noise, unsafe conditions, unregulated and unsupervised workmen performing construction activity,” said the suit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court, which was dated July 15.
The dust included toxins such as “lead, crystalline silicates, gypsum and other poisonous and carcinogenic substances,” the lawsuit alleged. [...]
The construction has also led to a “chronic rodent infestation, illegal noise, sporadic flooding, loss of hot water, broken windows, holes in the walls, lack of security (and) accumulation of mold,” the suit said.
The tenants hired Olmsted Environmental Services to test the dust in the building for toxic chemicals. The lawsuit also claims that Kushner Cos. lied to the Department of Buildings about the building being unoccupied in order to secure the work permits.
The tenants-rights group Housing Rights Initiative helped bring the case. They’ll hold a press conference on Monday to discuss the details. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also voiced his support for the case and will speak at the press conference.
The claims of toxic dust aren’t the first complaints from tenants of the building. Last February, one tenant uploaded a video to YouTube showing a mouse crawling inside a baby’s crib. “Despite repeated complaints about filth in our living environment, Kushner follows the mantra, ‘Profits first, people last,’” she wrote.
Kushner Cos. says they never harassed the building’s tenants. From the Daily News:
Chris Taylor, a Kushner Cos. spokeswoman, said “no tenant harassment” occurred at the building, where it was “the intention to convert it to condominium ownership under a noneviction plan.”
“No major construction has occurred in the building since December 2017,” she added.
Before that, all the work done was with “tremendous care” to make sure tenants were protected from dust by barriers over apartment doors and on hallway floors, Taylor claimed.
They also denied there had been any complaints. “If the tenant association, represented by counsel during the condominium conversion process, thought there was any harassment going on they would have certainly made a complaint to the AG office, which they did not,” Taylor told the Daily News.
This wouldn’t be the first time Kushner’s name has been dragged into scandals over the treatment of tenants. In April, Kushner Cos. was subpoenaed for information regarding incorrectly filled paperwork for several rent-controlled buildings in Astoria, Queens that made the company millions of dollars. According to residents in those buildings, the company lied about the buildings being vacant, and “subject[ed] [tenants] to extensive construction, with banging, drilling, dust, and leaking water that they believe were part of targeted harassment to get them to leave and clear the way for higher-paying renters.” Sure sounds familiar.
You can read the complaint here: