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Rising Rent Could Spell The End For Beloved Brooklyn Bookstore

Rallying Neighbors Fight To Save Monroe Brown's Bed Stuy Institution

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — High rent could mean that the final chapter has been written for a popular Brooklyn bookstore.

The True North Barbershop Bookstore in Bed Stuy was the heart of Monte Brown’s father’s desires — a place where neighbors could get a haircut and gain some knowledge.

“Enlightenment, empowerment of people and a sense of community and just kind of rising above the daily grind,” Monte Brown said.

Monroe Brown, 71, a retired New York City public school teacher, turned the shop into a classroom. He charged only a dollar for books and offered free lectures and language classes while paying the rent with his pension check, CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez reported.

He may be retired but friends told CBS 2 that Monroe Brown remains a skilled teacher.

“Just sitting and talking with him on any given afternoon, he’ll teach you so much,” Akua Henderson said.

Earlier this month, Monroe Brown suffered a stroke, remains hospitalized in critical condition and may lose his beloved bookstore. The news has hit neighbors hard.

“Mr. Brown is like a father to this neighborhood,” one resident said.

Days after Monroe Brown’s stroke the landlord changed the locks to the building. Monte Brown told CBS 2′s Sanchez the rent is being raised to more than $1,000 per month. Monroe Brown will be evicted if he can’t pay.

“I understand that that’s the landlord’s property and he just wants to maximize profits,” neighbor Ezkiel Bey said. “Do I agree with that? No. But it’s just a product of what’s going on.”

Others were less sympathetic to the landlord’s position.

“They don’t know him, nor do they care about him,” Carla Pinto said. “Because they don’t understand what a vital part to this neighborhood he really is.”

Neighbors have started to rally to keep Monroe Brown’s dream alive. Calls to the landlord from CBS 2 were not returned.

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