Residents of Antillean Manor have long charged Carabetta Management Co., which maintains the housing co-op on Day Street in western New Haven, with poor administration and neglect. But earlier this month, Antillean Manor’s governing board and Carabetta made strides toward a deal involving the sale, demolition and rebuilding of the complex.
Antillean Manor came under the management of Carabetta in 2011, after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development deemed the complex’s physical condition to be failing. In 2015, the company executed significant repairs to roofs and catwalks, spending between $300,000 and $400,000 in the process. Attorney Laura Sklaver, who has been representing Carabetta in negotiations since 2014, said these improvements gave Antillean Manor a “passing score” in HUD’s evaluation.
“It made a real difference in habitability,” she said. “But we don’t want Antillean Manor to be just ‘habitable.’”
Manor residents told the News they did not feel these repairs were adequate. One woman complained of roach and rat infestations, while another said the heating was intermittent at best.
Marcus Hodges, a 15-year tenant of Antillean Manor, said any repairs were “Band-Aids at best.” He added that he was skeptical that Carabetta’s demolition-and-restoration plan would ever come to fruition.
“There’s mildew all over the walls, the roofs leak all the time,” he said. “This building should be condemned.”
Antillean Manor is just the latest in a recent series of purchases of failing housing co-ops in New Haven by real-estate developers. In 2014, the New Haven Register reported that Navarino Capital Management bought Dwight Co-op, a housing complex on Edgewood Ave and renovated it over a span of two years.
Greg Smith, a resident of Dwight Co-op, now Dwight Gardens, said he was ambivalent about Navarino’s administrative record. He said that although the new complex was better than the original, it was apparent to him that Navarino cut corners whenever possible.
Smith added that rent skyrocketed when residents moved into Dwight Gardens’s newest buildings.
“Before, rent was controlled and affordable,” he said. “Now, two people might be paying $1,400 a month or more.”
Fears of rising rent pricing existing tenants out of their homes had prevented earlier negotiations between Carabetta and the Antillean Manor board from proceeding. But Sklaver noted that under current plans, the property will remain “100 percent Section 8 housing,” a term describing properties eligible for federal housing aid.
Sklaver said that much of Carabetta’s effort in recent months had been directed toward reconstituting Antillean Manor’s governing body. The company had encountered difficulty even locating tenants on the co-op’s board, she said.
Consequently, the company restructured the co-op agreement so all current residents obtained membership and then held elections to place new members on the board.
Sklaver, the attorney for Carabetta, characterized the most recent board meeting as “very open” and “productive,” emphasizing that Carabetta wants to improve residents’ living conditions. She said Carabetta will be responsible for the relocation costs of all residents during the demolition process, in compliance with HUD policy.
“The residents definitely feel that they make up a community,” she said.
But Hodges disputed Carabetta’s claims, saying the board elections seemed secretive and that residents were given little advance notice.
Carabetta’s mismanagement has spurred him to consider running for the Board of Alders to fix the current system, he added.
Will Wang | email@example.com