The former executive director of a nonprofit housing corporation affiliated with North General Hospital has filed a lawsuit accusing the shuttered hospital and the Abyssinian Development Corp. of wrongfully taking over a building to convert it to a for-profit residential property. The executive also charges that North General wrongly fired her and filed baseless criminal charges against her.
The North General AIDS Housing Development Fund Corp. was created 11 years ago to develop housing for low-income elderly or disabled residents. North General wants to make the Abyssinian Development Corp. the community sponsor of the housing fund. The chairman of Abyssinian is the Rev. Calvin Butts, who also is chairman of the hospital’s board.
The AIDS housing fund and one of its former executive directors Gay Lee filed a lawsuit on Nov. 22 against the hospital, Abyssinian and Mr. Butts, seeking millions of dollars in damages. She charges that the hospital is trying to transfer the 28-unit, single-room-occupancy rental property at 1997 Lexington Ave. to Abyssinian—without the approval of the AIDS Housing board—so that Abyssinian can convert it to for-profit housing.
If allowed, the transfer would “result in imminent and irreparable harm” to the residents, who would lose their health services and become homeless, alleges the lawsuit.
The AIDS housing corporation was spun off from North General in 2009, according to the lawsuit. Ms. Lee accuses the hospital’s executives and Mr. Butts of resorting to “extraordinary and wrongful means to accomplish their scheme to enrich themselves at the expense of the facility’s tenants.” When she objected to the plan, the defendants “engaged in acts of blatant retaliation,” including having her fired and “forcibly removed from the corporation’s offices.” They also filed “baseless criminal charges” without the knowledge or consent of the housing corporation’s board.
An attorney for the defendants had no comment.