SLUMLORD! by Albert Lee


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Meet Chuck Costa, slumlord--and, if you credit Lee--Detroit ghetto hero. Costa owned 75 buildings lodging some 5,000 tenants--ADC mothers, hookers, alkies, ""the poorest of the poor."" A two-fisted, pistol-packing landlord who drives a white Caddy, Costa has a unique modus operandi. He buys a run-down building, ""floods it"" with the help of his private goon squad, drives out addicts and other scum, then fixes up the place and rents to the grateful poor. He's a pretty broad-minded fella (""they're freaks but they all want a decent place to live""); hell, he even distributes Christmas baskets for the kids. And he was doing just fine until the do-gooders passed a law which said that welfare payments must go directly to the recipients; then he suddenly couldn't collect and went bankrupt. He wanted to live in the inner-city too, but ""the animals"" terrorized his wife and kids and dog, so reluctantly he moved to the suburbs. Since Lee covers himself by calling this a ""nonfiction novel"" it's hard to know just how far he's embellished this portrait of The Man. But Costa's probably correct when he says that if he didn't operate those buildings, nobody would and they'd be abandoned or razed. Lee doesn't go into the economics of slum-lording, just the ""pure, unadulterated emotions."" Now, if we could hear from the tenants. . . .

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Arlington House