Houses become homes and streets become neighborhoods, but how do cities transform into communities? In New York City, the answer is Oxford agent Darlene Brown. Winner of the prestigious StreetEasy Community Award for 2020, Darlene has been transforming lives for over a decade, and the skyline along the way.
“You have to stay motivated,” Darlene said, who credits her success to building relationships with landlords throughout New York City. Working primarily with the homeless population, Darlene has found that there is plenty of demand for the apartments that meet Section 8 requirements. The trickier part is finding those apartments, which has led her to strategize how to meet owners and management teams who have apartments that are ready to be rented to her clients.
With a background in sales and luxury rentals, Darlene started working with her clients in 2009 to help them find a comfortable and welcoming home. While her clients understood the different government programs they were eligible for, it was a bit more challenging to find apartments that met their parameters. When Darlene saw the opportunity to start networking with landlords and management companies, she took the initiative, paving the way to secure homes for her clients.
Darlene sees the key to her thriving business is to understand the intricacy of the programs and building relationships throughout New York City. She would host events where she would explain to potential clients what to do and how to prepare when they went to go see apartments.
“I always advised them to dress up! Treat it like a job interview – because it sort of is!” she said. Darlene has helped hundreds of people transition from a homeless shelter to a secure and stable home. “Having a place to call your own, that’s important. You feel safe and you can go out and be more confident, believe in yourself and really see your life change,” she explained.
These days, as Darlene walks through neighborhoods she knows so many folks along the way. She knows the super and the landlord, the residents and the handymen. She knows the management crew and the other real estate agents she passes by. She’s met them all by now and has made an incredible impression along the way.
One of Darlene’s guiding principles is to be kind with intention. So on occasion, Darlene dreams up creative and genuinely kind ways to give back to the community. One Thanksgiving, Darlene wanted to have a quiet holiday instead of gathering with family. With a calm day ahead of her, Darlene got to cooking and whipped up a Thanksgiving feast, which she then carefully divided into single servings. Then, she went out into New York City – a place that can seem cold or unwelcoming – and started handing out turkey and pie. Everyone smiled, and everyone was thankful.
The kind of effect that Darlene has had on her community, the communities she works in, and on New York City as a whole has been tremendous. She brings kindness and joy, hope and optimism, to those who need it most, and everyone else along the way.
It is a gift to have Darlene Brown be part of the Oxford team and we are so proud of her. We’re delighted that StreetEasy honored her with the Community Award for 2020, but we think that Darlene might need to win it, every year. Congratulations, Darlene!