Scott Sobol wants his story to be heard.
The former Compass agent was recently let go from the brokerage because of his purportedly negative interactions with homeless people in his Manhattan neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen.
However, Sobol reached out to Inman and maintains that he’s been misrepresented by individuals who would rather see him fail than face up to the neighborhood’s problems.
Sobol told Inman he believed coverage by The Post from July 4, framing him as someone who disregarded the humanity of homeless individuals, was a “political power play” coordinated by Corey Johnson, the City Council Speaker of New York who is exploring a run for mayor in 2021.
Sobol says one of Johnson’s main motives is that his current chief of Staff, Erik Bottcher, is running for Johnson’s seat when his term is up, and Sobol is considering a run for City Council as well, he says at the request of several community members. In addition, Sobol said Johnson is unwilling to adequately address the increased crime in the neighborhood that Sobol has been vocal about in recent weeks, and has asked city officials to take action on.
“It was a hit piece orchestrated by Corey Johnson,” Sobol told Inman. “Corey Johnson, trying to run for mayor, is not paying any attention to the West Side of Manhattan, which is where he was elected to serve as our council member. And him and his chief of staff who’s running for City Council — who I might run against — purposefully orchestrated that article to make me look bad because they’re afraid I’m out there exposing the truth.”
“We deny the accusations,” Bottcher told Inman, speaking on behalf of himself and Johnson.
Sobol said he’s tried to make his case to Compass without success. He also forwarded Inman an email sent to Compass CEO Robert Reffkin by dating coach and TV personality Damona Hoffman testifying to Sobol’s character and his efforts to “advocate for justice.”
In the email dated July 7, 2020, Hoffman says she has known Sobol for over 20 years as someone who has “always stood up for those less fortunate” and that the video of Sobol rolling glass bottles out of the street toward the Washington Jefferson Hotel that was featured in The Post article “was taken out of context and editorialized.”
“This is not a man who is attacking homeless people,” Hoffman wrote. “This is a man who is speaking up for what is right and advocating for New Yorkers who the city seems to have forgotten about and thrown together in an unsafe environment.”
“And Compass, because they’re so IPO-obsessed, they threw me under the bus and let me go,” Sobol said.
Sobol added that the bad press hasn’t negatively impacted his business with clients, but, rather, has gained him a few new clients.
“I already have [joined a new brokerage],” Sobol said. “Every single one of my clients wrote me an email or called me to tell me they are 100 percent with me, and I have picked up three new clients specifically because of this.”
Sobol cited recent coverage by CBS2, which points out rising crime rates in Hell’s Kitchen and the possible correlation between the pandemic and shelters opening up for populations that are potentially criminal. The report notes that in one Midtown South precinct, burglaries alone are up 117 percent from the same time last year.
“The people they’re bringing into our community, the homeless that I’m apparently against, these aren’t women and children, these aren’t the homeless families that just couldn’t make a paycheck that got evicted,” Sobol said. “No, these are the criminals, these are people with multiple arrests that they’re bringing into our neighborhood.”
Sobol spent over six years working for Compass, and prior to that worked as an agent for Douglas Elliman for about two years. Before working in real estate, Sobol pursued an acting career in New York.
“It’s tough when you’re trying to do the right thing and then there are people who … It’s a power play, it’s really a power play,” Sobol said. “I used to think this stuff just went on in Republican circles, but it doesn’t.”
Sobol said he tries to connect with homeless people on a day-to-day basis to see what he can do to help them.
“I spent the last couple of weeks roaming the streets,” Sobol said. “I sat down one night and had a long conversation with this homeless man. He told me he needed shoes and socks, [so] I ran home to my apartment and I gave him my freakin’ sneakers and socks … and I sat and talked to him for five minutes. And then, when he outstretched the hand that he just coughed in — during COVID — I shook it because he’s a human being, and I know many people don’t shake his hand, but I do because I’m that type of person.”
Compass also recently let go of another real estate agent who showed the house of a COVID-19 positive seller to unknowing buyers.