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Long-running battle over management of a Jamaica Plain co-op housing complex heads to court

A group of residents at Stony Brook Gardens, between Lamartine Street and Chestnut Avenue in Jamaica Plain, yesterday sued the development's ruling board over the way they say the complex is being mismanaged and run like a little fiefdom rather than as a co-operative venture.

The board will get a chance to answer the suit, at least in part, at a hearing June 7 in Suffolk Superior Court, which Judge Rosemary Connolly scheduled to consider the residents' request for a preliminary injunction. If granted, the injunction would require an election for the co-op's board - with a court-appointed election monitor - and let the residents bring in WinnResidential, which runs low- and moderate-income housing developments in 26 states, to conduct an audit of the co-op's finances while their overall suit continues.

Co-ops are roughly similar to condominiums, but unlike condos, in which each unit is considered a separate property, complete with a deed, co-ops are run as corporations in which participants buy shares. Urban Edge helped set up the 50-unit Stony Brook Gardens in 1991, to help residents stay in what even then was a rapidly gentrifying area.

The residents charge that the current board has not held an election in years, plays favorites, and threatens and harasses people who object to the way the co-op is run.

They charge that at two of the rare co-op-wide meetings board President Darlene Johnson allowed, last month and this month, the board brought in security guards, at least one armed, who threatened residents with ejection if they used their phones and who barred residents who arrived even a couple of minutes late. The board then ended both meetings without any action, let alone an election of officers.

The residents say they have been denied access to the co-op's books since 2013, and they are unable even to get receipts for rent payments - and that sometimes, residents' rent checks simply go uncashed.

They add that the development's community room has been shut since 2018. Unrented units have been used as favors - Johnson's adult son now lives alone in a four-bedroom unit, and she used another for personal storage, they allege; other units have been rented out without any verification of the prospective tenant's ability to pay rent. One gay resident was ordered to remove pride flags from his porch, and the board has refused to add his husband as an official tenant of their unit, the suit charges.

Residents charge nothing has changed since El Mundo wrote about problems at the development in 2021.

Complete complaint (1.1M PDF).
Affidavit by one of the residents (140k PDF).



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...and I was worrying about the HOA I just bought into...

Voting closed 21

MEGA-HOA! Absolutely re-donk-you-less.

Voting closed 5