Too Damn High? Brooklyn Homeowner Ordered to House Homeless Tenant for Free

You don't need a MasterCard to find a priceless home.

Mr. McMillan might have to reconsider. (Photo: Pool/Getty)

Mr. McMillan might have to reconsider. (Photo: Pool/Getty)

For one homeless woman, the rent isn’t too damn high. In fact, for her most recent digs, it was non-existent.

In a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority, a Brooklyn homeowner, Patrice James, 40, alleged that the Housing Authority forced her to provide a year of free housing to a formerly homeless woman.

The tenant, Amy Chambliss, signed a two-year Section 8 lease at $1,134 per month for the upstairs unit of Ms. James’ multi-family East Flatbush home in 2003. After Ms. Chambliss lost her Section 8 status in 2004, the homeowner took her to landlord-tenant court.

But NYCHA convinced the Brooklyn judge they were working to reinstate Chambliss’ subsidies, meaning the landlord had to house her homeless guest for free, according to the New York Post. 

Ms. Chambliss’ Section 8 status, however, was never renewed.

“The tenant got a free apartment and NYCHA got free housing for the tenant — but I’m out the money!” Ms. James lamented.

Ms. James’ bank account was not all that took a hit. The tenant left the unit rat-infested and covered in trash, leading Ms. James to sue the NYCHA in Brooklyn Supreme court for $48,216 to cover rent, renovation costs, and legal fees.

NYCHA reps declined to comment for the Post story.

The case, while unprecedented in its extreme nature, points to the disconnect between the judicial and administrative branch of the NYCHA’s rental assistance program. Through the city’s Department of Homeless Services, homeless people facing eviction are entitled to free legal representation, but the agency’s action after court remains muddled, as Ms. James’ rat-infested apartment shows.

Maybe next time the landlord should take a hint from the trendy young people and rent her house on Airbnb instead.