My name is Kirby Sommers and I created Landlord Links to empower renters in New York City. As a native New Yorker and a renter,
I always knew there had to be a better way to find good apartments offered by good landlords (think responsible and responsive)
instead of trolling Craigslist, Streeteasy (full of broker listings as well as bait & switch ads); or chasing brokers who
only see a commission and not you.
Having embarked on creating
Katrina Home Drive (KHD) (a vehicle I created
in 2005 to find housing and resources for displaced survivors across the country), I realized I could use the same method
used with KHD and pass on information to renters.
Bottom line enabling you, the rental consumer, to connect directly
to the resource (landlord).
That was over 12 years ago. I've never had to advertise and continue to help renters connect to landlords directly. The steady
stream of emails thanking me and my now staff for the money saved is incredibly rewarding.
Simply put: I love helping
people. Throughout my life I have stood and will continue to stand up for the rights of the underserved. I guess that means
I'm on the side of justice.
The Nitty Gritty Details:
As a Manhattan based real estate broker, I contributed three years of pro bono assistance connecting homes and resources to
thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast after it made its dreadful landfall on August 29,
Today, Katrina is still considered to be one of the costliest and deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States.
With the help of tireless volunteers across the country, a computer, my telephone, and an online group I created which I named
'Katrina Home Drive' -- We were able to find homes for evacuated citizens who suddenly found themselves displaced and homeless
across all 50 states. (This wound up in a Tedx Talk in 2016).
It was during this time I had an epiphany. There exists another underserved community and I belong to it: renters
in New York -- a historically exploited group.
New York City has always been a city of renters. Ever since immigrants began arriving during the 19th century filling up lodges
and tenements providing much needed labor for the growing factories and businesses that permeated the city at the time. Week
after week ships dropped off their passengers from distant places; and week after week landlords and intermediaries dipped
their hands into the pockets of these newly minted renters.
Renters, for the most part, have been fair game for unscrupulous real estate brokers, greedy landlords and scam artists. I
knew through my experience as a real estate broker and as someone with enough knowledge to be called an "expert" or "someone
who knows enough about what's really going on to be scared" -- that I could level the playing field for you.
Collectively renters in New York City have made billionaires out of many people. For example: John Jacob Astor, who in the
1830s purchased large tracts of Manhattan real estate and made a fortune on rent alone. Many followed his footsteps, including
our newly elected President Donald Trump.
It's time we recognize our strength as renters in New York City and use whatever skill set we have to reap some of the benefits
ourselves. Access to information, I believe, is key. Landlord Links provides all the information you need to turn a stressful
situation into one where you're in charge. Saving money along the way is just the proverbial cherry on top.
Kirby Sommers, CEO and Founder
LandlordLinks.Net and AptStar.com
President, Cornfeld Tenants' Association (2015)
Founder, Katrina Home Drive (KHD) (2005)
How I became a subject in a Tedx Talk: "You Are Stronger Than You Think You Are"
During the summer of 2015, via my AptStar Program, I helped a wonderful couple, Justin and Dahlia Constantine (relocating
from Washington, DC) find their new apartment in New York City.
Once they got settled in Justin asked me if he could share my "backstory" for his upcoming Tedx talk. The premise behind the
Ted Talk platform is simple: ideas worth sharing.
The title of Justin's talk is 'You Are Stronger Than You Think You Are.' I was flattered and from my perspective didn't think
I even remotely fit into the category of heroism. He proved me wrong.
Tenant Advocacy: President Cornfeld Tenants' Association
-April 5, 2015
Kirby Sommers, President of the Cornfeld Tenants' Association (CTA) has begun looking at popular baby names: Liam, Emma, Olivia,
Mason, Lucas, Jason and Ava are top on her list. Is Ms. Sommers expecting? No. She has decided to name the 200 or 300 rats
that have infested 143 West 69 Street and its sister building 2020 Broadway on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.
Cornfeld, landlord of both buildings has, according to Ms. Sommers, created a rat infestation by allowing Noi Due, West Side
Restaurant and Barcibo Enoteca, who occupy space in the buildings, to use a shared alley as a drop off location for their
Start a project.
143 West 69 Street
New York, NY 10023
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sister websites and were created by Kirby Sommers.
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