New York landlord becomes legal guardian of 93-year-old Holocaust survivor: 'She had no one else'
Brock Cvijanovich, the owner of a New York-based property management company, became the unlikely guardian of a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor after saving her life last year.
It was a turn of events that no one, including Cvijanovich, had expected.
In September 2021, Cvijanovich, CEO of KOmanage and KORgroup, made a deal to buy one of his first apartment buildings in Binghamton, in upstate New York.
The deal, however, came with an unusual condition. He had to take care of a 93-year-old building resident named Alice Schuman.
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Cvijanovich told Fox News Digital in an interview that he was outbid by someone else willing to pay $100,000 more for the property.
However, the prior owner told Cvijanovich that he would take $50,000 off the price — as long as Cvijanovich agreed to the specific term.
"He took a $50,000 haircut to make sure this woman is being taken care of," he said.
Cvijanovich admitted that he had no idea what this entailed — but he happily agreed.
Eventually he learned that the former property owner, who was looking to retire, had been escorting Schuman to the bank, to her doctor and to the grocery store once a month.
He was also undercharging her drastically for her rent.
He was charging her about $200 a month, while the same units in the building were going for around $2,000.
For over 60 years Schuman had been living there — and the previous owner never had the heart to raise her rent, Cvijanovich said.
So neither did he.
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He charged Schuman the same $200 monthly rate; and on the first of every month, Cvijanovich took her around to all her errands.
It was like clockwork, he recalled. Schuman would knock on his door that first day of the month with her rent payment in hand at 9 a.m. — and he would drive her wherever she needed to go.
"She literally had nobody else," he said. "That was a lot of the reason that it went the way that it did."
The duo bonded on each trip.
And as their relationship grew, Cvijanovich eventually found out that Schuman survived the Holocaust — and came over to the U.S. from Germany after the concentration camps were liberated.
Although Cvijanovich never learned other details of her past, he did discover that her parents and sister all died in the camps.
A few months into their arrangement, Cvijanovich woke up on the first of the month without a knock on his door.
A day later, as he was walking by her door, he heard faint calls for help coming from inside her apartment — so he kicked down her door and called 911.
At the hospital, medical professionals deemed Schuman unfit to take care of herself.
However, since she didn't have any living relatives or friends, she was going to be put in the state's care, he said.
Cvijanovich's mom, a nurse by profession, told him that Schuman wouldn't be treated too well if that happened. So he got a lawyer and became her legal guardian, along with his mom, in order to make medical decisions on her behalf.
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"I was visiting her every single day. They actually had a joke on the floor that she had a young boyfriend," he said.
"I'd bring her food, I'd bring her flowers."
At first, it was hard for Schuman "to believe that we genuinely didn't want anything from her," Cvijanovich said.
However, when Cvijanovich and his family kept showing up at the hospital to see her — and then at the nursing home, where she was transferred — she began to trust them, he recalled.
He even kept her apartment empty for nine months while she was in the hospital, hoping that she'd be able to return home.
Cvijanovich said the best way to describe his relationship with Schuman was "goofy."
He said, "I would literally go in there and mess around with her. The nurses would think it was hysterical. She'd mess around with me, prank me, take my stuff when I wasn't looking. She thought that was hysterical."
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In January, Schuman passed away from pneumonia.
Cvijanovich and his mother were there, right by her side, holding her hands, he said.
"You don't get any closer," he told Fox News Digital.