A Brooklyn landlord intends to install facial recognition technology at the entrance of a roughly 700-unit, rent-stabilized complex. Tenants at the complex say they were surprised by the news, Gothamist reports.“We don’t want to be tracked,” said longtime tenant Icemae Downes to Gothamist. “We are not animals. This is like tagging us through our faces because they can’t implant us with a chip.”
Tenants at the two buildings, located at 249 Thomas S. Boyland Street and 216 Rockaway Avenue, say they began receiving notices about the system in the fall.
Kansas-based company StoneLock is behind the software, and describes it as a "frictionless” entry system that collects biometric data based on facial features.
Tenants have enlisted the Brooklyn Legal Services' Tenants Rights Coalition as representation. Mona Patel, one of the attorneys, says she had never heard of such a system being used in rent-regulated housing. The apartment buildings, which were built in the late 1960s under the state’s Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program, are home to mostly black residents, with senior women making up a large share.
Patel referred to the racial component of the case, along with the software being installed in a gentrifying section of Brooklyn. Patel says these two coincidences have only heightened suspicions of harassment among tenants. The neighborhood is near East New York, which was rezoned in 2016, and has since undergone a housing development boom.
"He owns 12 developments. Why did he target a development that is predominantly Afro-Americans — and predominantly women — to test," Downes said to Gothamist. "Why is he preying on our community?"
Gothamist reportedly asked the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development about the use of facial recognition technology in affordable housing. A spokesperson's response was, "While we can’t say we’ve seen an uptick in amenities of this sort, we welcome development plans that allow for the marriage of high tech features and affordability."
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