Northland owned (and still did as of 2019) a 301-unit subsidized apartment complex (Church Street South) in New Haven Connecticut. The New Haven Independent reported extensively about problems at the complex so severe that all of the tenants were eventually moved out.  The complex was razed in 2018 and 2019.

In 2015, the Independent had reported: “The future of the crumbling subsidized 301-unit complex across from the train station—aka “The Jungle”—has become a matter of urgent debate in recent months as officials scramble to find new homes for all the families there so they can flee hazardous living conditions. A consensus has emerged among the developer, many tenants, and city officials that the complex has deteriorated so badly that it must all come down, with a new development built in its place.”

In August 2015 the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found Northland to be out of compliance with its contract to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing for the clients at Church Street South in August 2015. The complex received a dismal score of 20 points out of a hundred in the Federal Real Estate assessment conducted by HUD.

  • A class action suit found a “complex-wide failure” to prevent years-old leaks or to adequately repair them, leading to continued dampness, water damage, and mold. There was “mold and mildew in every bathroom” and in most cabinets.
  •  Inspections found 1015 instances of health and safety violations. 512 of these were life threatening violations.
  • 89 percent of the children surveyed had respiratory problems, including 48 percent who either developed physician-diagnosed asthma or saw their condition worsen while living at Church Street South.
  • Northland’s insurance company – Endurance American Specialty Insurance Company – filed a lawsuit in 2018 claiming that Northland presented itself solely as a high-end residential property owner and obscured the fact that it owned a low-income, federally subsidized apartment complex that had been largely condemned by city and federal housing authorities.

Was this behavior typical of Northland? Does Northland behave callously only toward low-income tenants? How will Northland behave as a landlord to 140 affordable units here in Newton?

These issues ought to be taken up before the Northland project in Newton is approved.

One of the many relevant articles from the New Haven Independent: https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/asthma_church_street_south/ Other articles are also referenced there.

For a report on the complex’s many deficiencies see http://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/DocumentInquiry/DocumentInquiry.aspx?DocumentNo=13950719

What Northland Cares About

How could the situation in New Haven have happened? Probably Northland’s corporate values have something to do with it. Here is Northland’s “strategy” statement, from their web site:

Northland produces market-leading returns through long-term ownership, disciplined capital allocation, an operations-driven acquisition strategy, and a sophisticated approach to asset management.

It’s a remarkable statement for having not even a passing mention of being of service – to the communities where properties are located – to their tenants – to their employees – not to anybody or anything except their stockholders. Northland appears to be so tone deaf that they don’t even realize that any kind of “greater good” is worth mentioning.

Compare Northland’s statement to this from Mark Development (Robert Korff’s organization). (We have added the emphasis.)

Mark Development is focused on creating dynamic communities via thoughtful development. Rooted in a long history of retail-anchored projects, Mark Development is building on years of experience to create mixed-use communities that combine housing, retail, office and community uses to create a sense of place. That talented and nimble team brings a distinct vision to every project and relies on creativity to turn challenges into opportunities.

Northland’s Nothing-But-Money focus must have played into their behavior in New Haven. When Northland claims that they cannot go farther in satisfying the needs of the city or the nearby residents, we should be very skeptical.