Lisa Fiekowski considers collecting neighborhood junk her full-time job; property ownership is a part-time gig.
She estimates it pays about $20 to $30 per hour and she often takes work home with her–packing the garbage into her 1993 Toyota Camry or one of her four brownstone homes that are collectively worth an estimated $8 million, according to the New York Post. Though Fiekowski calls it a “bad hobby” that mostly raises the ire of her neighbors and family, she also thinks “it’s so funny.”
“It keeps me active. I talk to people in the neighborhood… Mostly, it’s physical activity,” she told the Post. “I figure I make a little money at the same time. Keep the neighborhood clean.”
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for her $1 million Prospect Heights brownstone or the three other properties she owns in Harlem–they are reportedly filled with trash Fiekowski has cleared off the street. One of her Manhattan homes in Hamilton Terrace is worth over $4 million. Her real estate collection began with her husband, who works for the city and earns about $180,000 per year, and started buying up the properties in the 1980s.
There’s also the matter of Fiekowski’s car: it’s full of trash and reported to have rats living among the refuge inside. The car was towed from its street parking spot near her Brooklyn home in mid-July amid a torrent of headlines that blasted the mysterious “trash car” and its owner.
“It shows how intolerant that area is,” she told the Post. “To me, what’s sad is New York used to have acceptance of people being eccentric, but now it’s like ‘Heaven forbid!'” [NYP]—Erin Hudson