Crown Heights resident Darrell Stone needs a new place to live for the first time in more than 15 years at the end of this month because he was served an eviction notice from his long-term, garden-level apartment last October over an unrenewed lease and a debt of $1,284. Stone claims he never owed the money and says he’s facing homelessness if he can’t find a new apartment soon. 

“I really don’t want to go to the shelter, but if I have to I will,” he said. “I’m 59 years old, I can’t worry about it too much. I’m an older guy and I can’t live on the streets. I’m just trying to find a place to enjoy the golden years of my life.”

But such a place isn’t easy to find. Stone fired off multiple applications, including one to the NYC Housing Connect lottery, with no luck so far. He’s not looking for much, either, although he needs to live close to public transit—Stone works as a pasta chef in Lincoln Square and has to transfer to the 1 train to get work. 

When asked if he would like to shorten his commute by living in Manhattan, he answered an enthusiastic “yes,” but he hasn’t bothered looking there. Last month, Borough President Mark Levine found the average rent in Manhattan was $5,142 a month. Stone currently pays $1,200. 

Lawyers for Stone’s landlord, Ricky Muhammad, did not wish to comment. 

Stone’s plight is now central to the Legal Aid Society’s efforts in championing a  2019 “Good Cause” eviction bill the organization contributed to. The proposed legislation is quite straightforward and self-explanatory: no evictions or non-renewals without a good cause. It would also limit rent hikes. Legal Aid staff attorney Patrick Langhenry, who represents Stone, believes his client would enjoy extensive protections under the bill if passed.

“Mr. Stone’s case is tragic, but it isn’t unique,” he said in a statement. “We hear similar horror stories daily from tenants in unregulated apartments who face eviction or exorbitant rent increases, deprived of any legal protections to help them remain in their homes. To combat this crisis head on, Albany must immediately codify ‘Good Cause’ eviction legislation. State lawmakers can no longer shirk their responsibility to advance this critical measure.”

But the “Good Cause” eviction law was arguably the most notable exclusion in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent housing plan. Langhenry’s Legal Aid colleague Ellen Davidson helped craft the 2019 bill and told the Amsterdam News that the governor’s playbook to mandate the development of 800,000 homes over the next decade doesn’t address short-time housing crises faced by New Yorkers like Stone. 

“Her plan requires building more housing—she is correct, that is the way to solve our housing crisis [but] it’s years away,” the spokesperson said. “It requires localities to meet housing goals within three years and if they don’t meet those housing goals, then certain consequences will happen. But it may mean the actual building of housing will take an awfully long time. Right now, people are suffering.”

Good Cause eviction laws face stiff opposition from property owners throughout the state and have already been shot down or overturned in Albany, Rochester, and Newburgh. Davidson said the bill will affect “model landlords” minimally and excludes owners of three- or fewer-unit buildings, because such landlords often lived in their properties and would have a further, vested interest in vetting tenants whom they would also call their nextdoor neighbors. She added that the Good Cause eviction bill could help lower renting costs and open up availability, making Stone’s search for a place to enjoy his “golden years” a less elusive one.

“Part of the reason the rents go up as much as they do is that the market for this type of housing is incredibly hot,” said Davidson. “You have investment groups coming in and buying one- and two-family homes all over the state … [and] that also makes it harder for ordinary New Yorkers to actually purchase property to buy their first house…one of the things a Good Cause [eviction] law would do is take some of the heat out of that market [for] the investment groups [and] the predatory equity investors who might not want to purchase in New York anymore. 

“…taking some of the heat out of the market would also lead to taking some of the heat out of the crazy rent increases we’ve seen for people who are trying to rent in New York City.”

Legal Aid Society proponents also say the bill would prevent landlords from discouraging repair requests by retaliating with the threat of evictions and non-renewals. Stone told the Amsterdam News this was never a concern for him, although his apartment was reportedly in disrepair. Stone recalled waking up at 4 a.m. due to leaky plumbing dripping on him. He also reportedly provided Patch a picture of his unit’s ceiling collapsing in a previous story about his eviction. 
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting

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  1. It’s disgraceful and racist that Black New Yorkers are being pushed out and priced out of their homes and communities so more Whites and Asians can move in.

    The governor and mayor, planning to build more than 500k apartments, you know where those apartments will be built, in what’s left of Black communities. Not one white community has been torn apart to house Black people. Asians are doing what White people around the country and especially here in New York are doing, they are creating their own “sundown towns”.

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