How the radical left is pushing property owners to the brink


It was a week to Christmas, but Lincoln Eccles wasn’t feeling the Yuletide spirit. The boiler in the 14-unit building he owns in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood had gone belly up a few months before, and supply-chain issues were making it impossible to find a good replacement. It was getting cold in New York, so Eccles bought each of his tenants a space heater before shelling out a small fortune on heat pumps, a green solution he said he liked in large part because it was good for the environment. The investment meant he was now nearly $300,000 in debt. And New York, he said, was doing everything it could to drive him out of business.

“The politicians don’t care,” he told me, speaking from the icy, whitewashed boiler room where he had spent hours a day these last few months. “They say, ‘Well, you’re a bad businessman.’ None of them operate property. If they did, and they were honest, they would talk about things differently.”

When we think of New York landlords, we think of the Trumps, the Kushners, the Helmsleys, big names and big egos whose bad behavior provides as much fodder to the front pages of tabloids as it does the business pages. But in a city that has long taken pride in being home to diverse enclaves of newcomers from all over, your landlord these days may be someone like Eccles, who moved to Brooklyn from Jamaica as an infant and whose family owes its break to his uncle Walter, who climbed his way up from fruit picker to owner of more than 100 multiunit properties.

Tweak a few dates and a few factoids, and the story of the Eccles family could easily be that of many American Jewish families who arrived here fleeing poverty and adversity and worked their way into the American dream, one small piece of property at a time. Except now that dream is no longer available to a new generation of immigrants or first-generation Americans, and, ironically, it is the progressive politicians most vocal about equity who are the bitterest foes of folks like Eccles.


Join now!