Outer Borough Residential Worker
Noel Brown serves as a handyman for a collection of buildings in the Bronx containing hundreds of units. Though that can seem overwhelming, Brown is methodical and diligent and never goes home until every tenant is taken care of. “If I have something I’m working on it’s hard for me to go home and get comfortable while the tenant is uncomfortable,” he says.
Tenants often call him for advice and in the event of an emergency — when their heat goes out or the smoke alarm is going off. “Sometimes on my days off they’re even calling me,” he says. “When they have problems they don’t know where to turn so they call me.” He calls it his duty to help them out.
Luckily, Brown has built friendly relationships with many tenants over his 16 years there. “I appreciate them and they appreciate me,” he says. “I respect everyone.” The hardest part of his job, Brown says, is all the walking between buildings and up and down the flights of stairs. But it keeps him fit, he says, and it focuses his mind. He was surprised to hear he’d won an award, but credits his patience with the tenants and “going the extra mile for them.”
Brown came to New York City from Jamaica in 1980 and now lives in the Bronx. “It’s a great city,” he says. “If you put out effort you can achieve anything.” He spent some time in plumbing before being introduced to the manager of his current buildings. He has a daughter and in his free time enjoys going back to visit Jamaica. He likes playing dominoes and volunteering with 32BJ to raise the minimum wage. He’s been a union member since 2002.