Q: Would you state your name and the position you take?
A: Hi, my name is Jeff Nemetsky and I am the executive director of Brooklyn Community Housing Services. It is a non-for-profit housing agency and we provide short-term transitional and permanent housing for people who used to be homeless. Mostly single adults that were homeless but we also provide housing for people with children.
Q: How long have you been involved with BCHS?
A: I’ve been involved with BCHS for eight years.
Q: What are some of your duties and responsibilities?
A: As the executive director I am responsible for all our housing programs. We provide housing for about 212 people on daily basis and about a thousand people each year.
Q: Would you tell us more about your projects you are involved with?
A: One of our projects is called Navy Green. and it is located about two blocks outside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And we provide housing for 59 who have history of homelessness and 38 that are working adults. We provide whole range of different services and activities for the residents of the building. One of the main activities is the arts program that we actually offer to all our residents in all our programs but conduct much of it for Navy Green building. We have continuing school educators and activities specialists that work with the residents on whole range of projects throughout the year.
Q: What types of housing do you provide?
A: One of the types of housing we provide is called standard-site housing. Basically we rent apartments from private landlords throughout Brooklyn, so BCHS will hold the lease for those apartments and we would place individuals in those apartments that have approached us with needs. And again these individuals have history of homelessness or use of methadons. And then we would send out specialists to the apartments to work with the individuals and help them.
Q: Could you explain the problems that led you to seek help from Christopher Halligan?
A: Chris Halligan has been BCHS real estate attorney for over a decade. And as operator of housing programs we do have issues from time to time, sometimes involving residents, sometimes involving state agencies. Chris has helped us with a range of issues. The thing that we mostly value in Chris is how well he is able to balance dealing with the situations that we present to him. From time to time we have to take legal actions towards the residents and Chris is always able to expertly represent our interests as a landlord, and a the same time respect the dignity of the residents. This is something we greatly appreciate and our experience has been that not many other have not been able to find that balance.
Q: Would you say you are pleased with the results?
A: Chris is part of the family. One of the great things that Chris does is that he is able to try to create a workable situation for everyone involved in the case. He would try to conduct negotiations with residents in court and come up with an amicable resolution. And usually he is successful at it. Actually, the residents have very good experience coming out of the situation and they feel very good about themselves. One of our resident had such a positive experience with Chris in court that later asked me if Chris was one of our new social workers.
Q: What specifically led you to seek help from our firm?
A: It was really the range of skills that provides for us. And the thing to look at it is that Chis not just provides us with legal services, but legal and wise counsel. In addition to dealing so well with our cases, Chris has helped us negotiate very favorable office space which over the past decade the real estate prices in Brooklyn heights prices have increased. It is often difficult for non-for-profit agency to find affordable office space. Chris has helped us negotiate two sets of leases and that were very affordable and saved us a lot of money and has helped us to keep us in our present locations.
He has also helped us with different kinds of regulatory issues that occurred during the 25 years that the program has started. He also helped us with another situation where we had to close one of our housing programs, where the contract ended and Chris was able to work with us to help all the 70 residents on that program to find suitable alternative housing, rather than just evicting people to the street, which other people were advising us to do. We came to appreciate just how much Chris means to our mission over the years.
Q: How has it been working with ALB PC?
A: We have been very thrilled with the work ALBPC has provided for us ever since Chris came to the firm. We has variety of different issues, some involving leases, some other housing programs, some of which were complicated, they go back three decades. We were able to draw from a broader expertise that the firm has to offer. And we were extremely happy with the outcome.
Q: Would you like to add anything else?
A: Chris is not only a great to work, he also has a great sense of humor. And this is underappreciated quality because dealing with difficult situations and as a non-profit organization we do have to deal with legal issues and very tense situation. And I think he is someone that can handle it well but also bring a great sense of humor to the proceedings which is something we can work that much easier with and that much better.
Q: Would you recommend Halligan?
A: Yes, we would recommend him for representation in any real estate matter.