DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in a rental building that has started to gentrify. A new couple moved in a few months ago, and I have tried to welcome them. We are different from each other, but still cordial.
The wife has been complaining about lots of things in the building, and while she was complaining she told me that she pays what is comparable to three times my rent -- for the same size apartment. I didn’t think it was smart to tell her what I pay. I’m concerned, though, that these high-paying neighbors may start to push the rest of us out. I have seen it before. How can I help them to feel like part of our community without giving them ammo to try to get us out of the building? -- New Neighbor Drama, Manhattan, New York
DEAR NEW NEIGHBOR DRAMA: Continue to be friendly and responsive to your neighbors. If there are any building traditions, make sure you let them know, such as participating in giving out candy at Halloween or any type of group activity for the tenants. If there is a tenants’ organization, encourage them to join. This is how they will learn more about how things work in your building and in your community.
If your neighbors have legitimate gripes about the building, show compassion. Also, give context. Many landlords are lazy when it comes to handling basic needs. It can be true that new, higher-paying tenants may get the landlord’s attention faster, at least in the beginning. Encourage the new tenants to think of everyone when they lobby for change. Help them to feel they are part of your community. This may make it easier for them to be inclusive rather than attempting down the line to oust anybody.