Meet Bed-Stuy Entrepreneur Ofo Ezeugwu, CEO of WhoseYourLandlord

Ofo Ezeugwu

If you’re a NYC renter there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself wishing there was a better way to hold your shady landlord accountable. Besides the public advocate’s worst landlord list, there aren’t many means to call out landlords who fail to take care of their tenants. That was the whole idea behind the website, which launched in Philly and is now taking root right here in Bed-Stuy.

Ofo Ezeugwu and Felix Addison started the business as students in 2012. It took off in Philadelphia and they made the decision to expand to New York. Their logical homebase was Bedford-Stuyvesant, where Ofo’s grandfather has owned a brownstone on Halsey Street for decades. (Ofo and Felix rent a floor from him. For the record, he’s a good landlord.) While they hope to attract renters throughout New York City to the website, they’re hoping to spread word through the neighborhood first about what this service does.

Essentially, WhoseYourLandlord is like the Yelp of landlords–tenants can leave their review (anonymously or not) to contribute to a database of landlord reviews. Renters, then, are more informed not just on who their landlord actually is–something many New Yorkers don’t even know–but also other tenant’s experiences. The reviews are meant to hold up good landlords as much as they can pressure bad landlords to get their act together before renting to new tenants.

“We want to empower people with knowledge and hopefully encourage and incentive landlords to be better equipped,” Ofo said. Since starting the business he’s identified a gap between residents and landlords and the resulting problems it creates. “One one side of the equation we have tenants with an emotional tie to their apartment, this is their home. On the other side, it’s a business transaction.” He hopes to bridge that gap by increasing communication between landlord and tenant, as well as helping tenants simply come into the renting process better informed.

So, Bed-Stuy renters, go ahead and review your landlord! Landlords also are able to respond to reviews and list apartments on the site.

Help Fund a Rock Climbing Trip for Special Needs Children in Bed-Stuy

A special education teacher who has worked at P231K at PS54 for the past 11 years is fundraising for a really cool field trip. He and his colleagues work with students diagnosed with autism, down syndrome and intellectual disabilities, and many come from low-income, single-caregiver families. The teachers are funding for a rock climbing field trip for their students aimed to happen next month. Here’s a little bit about why they chose this particular activity:

Real life experiences are really important for our children and is way more important than academics. Unfortunately many of these experiences are not affordable to our families. $15 (which is the cost per child for this activity) may not seem a lot of money to most of us, but for most of our families this is dinner. So many times children miss out, or staff spend our own money for the kids to go on field trips.

Rock Climbing is an excellent activity that has the potentional to foster growth and skill development including : fitness, building confidence and overcoming fear, nurturing problem solving skills, buidling core and upper body strength and endurance, and an increased sense of self efficacy.

In a few days the campaign exceeded its $900 goal. Any extra money raised will go towards future trips at the climbing gym or similar types of field trips, with the goal to establish an ongoing experience for the students. Please help them out at their GoFundMe page!

Dog Lost Around Bed-Stuy or Bushwick

A local couple has lost their dog Luna in the Bed-Stuy, Bushwick area. They’ve started a Facebook account to help find her. Here’s a note if you happen to spot a lost pup:

Luna is a skittish dog. She will not want to be near people. The best way of getting her is to keep your eyes peeled and REPORT ANY SITINGS AT ALL. Call me, post here on her page or contact Sean Casey. We need to find a pattern so we can narrow down where she is hiding. She will likely be coming out at night and hiding during the day. It may take some time, but we will find her. Again, thank you everyone for your support.

If you see her, call the number posted above.

Art Event Happening Friday on Border of Bed-Stuy and Bushwick

The local arts collective Salomé ArtHaus is hosting an interesting event this Friday at 562 Evergreen Avenue, technically in Bushwick but not far from our neighborhood. Their project, called ArtLinks, pairs together artists who create in different disciplines. For five months the artists worked with strangers to create artworks that respond to the work made proceeding it. Now, the chain is complete, and Salomé is exhibiting the works and the process inside the Bushwick gallery. The collective said that from this chain “emerged serious, poignant works that evoke thoughts about the meaning of communication and cooperation across artistic genres and global boundaries.” The exhibition, the first for Salomé ArtHaus, includes 23 artists and 10 different pieces.

Tickets cost $7 online and $10 at the door–buy them here. And here are event details on Facebook.

Don’t Forget to Vote for Participatory Budgeting!

The residents of District 36, which covers Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights, have a slate of great things to vote for in this year’s participatory budgeting. This is an amazing opportunity for residents to vote on how they’d like their local representative to spend $1 million of the public budget. (Our rep is Council Member Robert Cornegy.) Some ballot measures include basketball court renovations for two gyms at MS 35 on Macdonough Street, the installation of closed circuit television security at the Nostrand Avenue subway, a technology expansion at P.S. 256, P.S. 289 and P.S. 305, and also resurfacing the streets with major cracks and potholes in parts of the Community Boards 8 and 3. You can view a map with all the local ballot proposals here.

This year it’s easier than ever to vote as you can do it online. Or, find voting sites within our district here. The only voting requirements are that you must live in a participating Council District and be at least 14 years old or served as a Budget Delegate this year. Voting closes soon, on Sunday, April 2nd!

Tonight: Pizza Fundraiser for a Bed-Stuy Nonprofit

Tonight, don’t miss the chance to eat a lot of pizza and support local organization Children of Promise, NYC. This is an award-winning organization nationally recognized for its work of empowering children of incarcerated parents–and a lot of the work happens right here in Bed-Stuy. To support its work, Children of Promise is hosting a pizza fundraiser from 7pm to 10:30pm. Here are details:

The event will include all-you-can-eat gourmet pizza and your choice of two free drinks with every $20 ticket. Enjoy slices of Margherita, pepperoni and Sicilian style cheese pizza all night thanks to Fortina Pizza, as well as complimentary soda and water. $4 drinks specials throughout the evening.

100% of proceeds benefits Children of Promise, NYC, the first and only after-school program and summer day camp in NYC specifically designed to meet the needs, interests and concerns of children left behind by parents serving time in prison.

Seems like great Friday night plans to me. Purchase tickets here.

Biggie Bags Available Today at Met Foods

Today is the 20th anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.’s death, and the musician is being honored in an inventive way at the Met Foods on Fulton. Here are details:

As a kid, The Notorious B.I.G. bagged groceries at the Met Food Supermarket at 991 Fulton St. in Brooklyn. As a tribute, a limited edition of 100 custom-stenciled grocery bags were made for the family-owned grocery store to remember his legacy.

They will be available to the first one-hundred customers on Thursday 3/9.

Check out more photos of the project here. Beautiful work!

Biggie Bags