If Jared Kushner were the blood relative of Donald Trump, I’d write that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
During the 2016 campaign, we learned that Donald Trump and his father had been forced to pay a settlement for discriminating against people of color by refusing to rent to them. Kushner’s situation is a bit different. He’s fine with renting to people of color, as well as to struggling white people. It’s what he does to them afterwards that is so appalling.
ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine co-published a horrifying exposé of the business practices of JK2 Westminster LLC, a company owned by Jared Kushner. Although the corporation owns properties in several states, this article concentrates on Maryland, specifically Baltimore County. Charles Dickens couldn’t have penned a more Scrooge-like tale.
The piece is long, but deserves a full read and you can do it HERE, but I warn you, it will raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels. Meanwhile, here is one of the stories in the piece.
In 2004, Kamiia Warren, a mother of three, moved into a townhouse in the Cove Village development in Essex, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. It was no palace, but compared to her former residence in East Baltimore, it was like heaven. Next door lived a woman whom Warren befriended, but the woman soon began acting inappropriately. She would accost visitors to Warren’s home, shouted through the walls during the day and pounded on the walls at night, waking Warren’s infant son.
Warren reported the problem to the property manager, Sawyer Realty Holdings. After receiving no response, she made the decision to move out. In January 2010, she submitted the required paperwork giving two month’s notice that she was transferring her Section 8 voucher to a different property. The on-site manager signed the form and checked the line that read “The tenant gave notice in accordance with the lease.”
Three years later, like a bolt out of the blue, Warren got a summons informing her that the owner of the Cove Village complex was suing her for $3,014.08. But it wasn’t Sawyer Realty Holdings suing her. It was a company she’d never heard of: JK2Westminster LLC, owned by Kushner Companies. Busy with raising her children and taking classes to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in health care administration, she ignored the first summons. But they just kept coming. Without resources, she went to court by herself but didn’t bring along the paperwork showing that she’d been in compliance with the stipulations of the lease when she moved out. The court ruled against her, and on top of finding for JK2 Westminster, she was responsible for paying the court fees, attorney’s fees and interest, bringing the total to just shy of $5,000. It might as well have been a million.
Fast forward to late 2014. Warren had not paid the $4,984.37 judgment against her. Three days before Christmas, JK2 Westminster filed a request to garnish her wages. Five days prior to the filing, Warren went to court and filled out a motion saying she had a copy of the permission to terminate her lease. But she failed to bring the document with her, so her motion was denied on the grounds that no evidence had been submitted.
That month the garnishment went into effect. She was leaving her job, but that posed no problem. JK2 Westminster went after her bank account and cleaned it out, leaving her with no money for food and bills. She returned to court, with the required form in her hand and presented it to the judge. Asking him to halt the garnishment, she made this plea: “I am a single mom of three and my bank account was wiped clean by the plaintiff. I cannot take care of my kids when they snatch all of my money out of my account. I do not feel I owe this money. Please have mercy on my family and I.” Later that day she called the law office representing JK2 Westminster to discuss the case and was told, “This is not going to go away. You will pay us.”
With no explanation, the judge denied her request; and in January 2016, the court sent notice of a lien for the remaining amount she owed – $4,615. Warren has gone without a bank account since the Kushner owned company cleaned out her account for fear of another garnishment. When asked by the writer of the ProPublica/New York Times Magazine article why she hadn’t pushed back harder, her answer was predictable – and one that applies to just about every one of the low-income renters people like Kushner prey upon. “They know how to work this stuff. They know what to do, and here I am; I don’t know anything about the law. I would have to hire a lawyer or something and I really can’t afford that. I really don’t know my rights. I don’t know all the court lingo. I knew that up against them I would lose.”
From the article:
A search for “JK2 Westminster” in the database of Maryland’s District Court system brings back 548 cases in which it is the plaintiff — and that does not include hundreds of other cases that have been filed in the name of the company’s individual complexes.
There’s another sad tale of a Kushner company suing a woman who died. Didn’t stop them. They went after her grieving husband. Then there’s the way people who are late paying rent are treated. Instead of putting the late notice beneath the door or in the mailbox, it is posted on the doors of their homes or in the lobbies of the apartment building for all to see. Or charging people like Keith Riggs $150 to fix a hole in the wall back in October. The wall remains damaged and the excuse is that there is only one drywall person for the entire complex. Others complained of mold. Or rats. Or raw sewage coming out of the kitchen sink. Or maggots in the living room carpet.
The list is long and hideously unbelievable. But to Jared Kushner, all of this constitutes a great investment. Because hey! When you’re rich, you get it all, and the little people are only the means to more riches.
Jared Kushner is one of the president’s most trusted advisors. So here’s the question to all those Trump voters out there. Do you really think he’s got your back?