Manhattan North Management Brings Cheer to Harlem

Manhattan North Management is more than just the owner of 3,500 apartments in Harlem. It is also one of the biggest supporters of its tenants and local residents, and the company's dedication kicks into overdrive with the holiday season.

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Writer

New York—Manhattan North Management, a subsidiary of real estate investment and development firm Tahl Propp Equities, is more than just the owner and manager of 3,500 apartments in East and West Harlem. It is also one of the biggest supporters of its tenants and local residents, and the company’s dedication kicks into overdrive with the holiday season.

Of course, in its capacity as a management company, Manhattan North is not obligated to bring comfort and joy to its tenants once the Pilgrim hats go on and the twinkling lights come out—but the company does its best to do just that anyway.

“During this time of year, you have such a celebration of the holidays, which is such a wonderful family time to celebrate our good fortune,” Joseph A. Tahl, president and co-founder of Tahl Propp, tells MHN. “Well, unfortunately, not everyone in Harlem, not everyone in our community, not everyone in our country, is experiencing such good fortune right now. So at a time when it becomes so visible for people to celebrate good fortune, it’s even harder for people who aren’t so fortunate to get through that unless they have some help.”

Manhattan North’s charitable holiday activities extend well beyond writing a check or hosting the traditional fête; donations and mixers are just part of the ritual. The company ushered in the season with its annual Turkey Dinner event, attracting more than 150 seniors with multi-course meals at three of its low-income HUD apartment communities. Talking even more turkey, Manhattan North distributed 500 of the birds to residents of one of its larger complexes housing low- and moderate-income residents. The kind act cost the company about $10,000, and Tahl and colleagues consider it money well spent. “If you’re having a holiday meal for 10 or 20 people, the turkey probably makes up over half of that meal, so we’re happy to give somebody a 15-pound turkey that can feed 20 people,” Tahl says. “People are really having to make very difficult choices right now to provide what we think of as basic necessities for themselves and their families. So any help you can give, I find, has been very much appreciated.”

The company is also co-sponsoring the 35th Annual Three Kings Day Parade & Celebration in the El Barrio area of East Harlem.

However, for Manhattan North, ’tis the season to be jolly and generous—always. “It’s really not just for the holidays. We have an active community outreach and support program that we are involved in all year-round, in which we support community-based initiatives, charitable initiatives—things that we hope and think will be helpful for the community and the residents.” To that end, Manhattan North added a full-time director of government and community relations to its staff last year.

Among the company’s routine acts of kindness is the distribution of thousands of backpacks chock full of school supplies to young students in need at Manhattan North properties, and to churches and community organizations to assist children beyond its apartment locations.

Twelve months out of the year, Manhattan North puts forth that extra effort not commonly seen with management firms, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods. The company took over management of its affordable housing portfolio in 2005 and commenced a sweeping, multi-million-dollar renovation plan to lift the quality of the buildings and the spirits of its residents. It’s a long-term commitment and the dedication has been well received by tenants.

“Nobody loves the landlord, let’s be honest,” Tahl concedes. “And it’s even more difficult operating primarily low-income housing, because historically there’s been a lot of mistrust, a lot of animosity, a lot of exclusion. There’s been racism, there’s been disenfranchisement, so you’re coming into an environment that really is difficult. So that’s why we have a sustained, full-time, professionally-staffed outreach program to really show people—not just during holiday-time but all year on a constant sustained basis—the kind of support that we’re providing. You just have to do it, and do it, and do it again and do it again until people realize that you’re here to stay, and you’re here to support them for real and you’re sincere. The only way to make that case is to simply act that way and to act that way as consistently and over a long-term basis as you can.”

And there is, indeed, a heaping amount of sincerity behind Manhattan North’s approach to overseeing its apartment communities. “We’re just big supporters of the Harlem community and the people who live here,” he adds.

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