Tenants Demand Building Repairs

In the room where Luis Correa’s six children sleep, black mold creeps along the walls, and frigid air blows in through broken windows. Throughout the house, the linoleum floors buckle under the weight of footsteps. Exposed electrical wires in the living room spark if the air gets too damp. The stove doesn’t work. Neither does the heat, hot water, or bathtub drain. Last winter, Correa, 33, slept in his coat for two weeks when his apartment got so cold that the ceilings cracked and icicles hung over his bed.

“It’s horrible. I had to come back to this,” Correa said, about being raised in the building and returning to it after being laid off in Florida last year.  “Before my children had freedom, grass, now this…it’s not fair to them.”

Correa’s building at 1640 University Ave., and the adjoining one, 1636 University Ave., were put on the city’s Alternative Enforcement Program in November, which pressures landlords of the city’s 200 worst buildings to address housing code violations. They are among the six Bronx buildings Hunter Property Management real estate investor Sam Suzuki purchased in May for $13 million.

In a desperate attempt to draw attention to the buildings’ 3,000 violations, members of Urban Homestead Association Board, a not-for-profit organizing group, met with angry tenants on Nov. 19 to protest outside Dime Savings Bank on Turnbull Avenue in Soundview, where the buildings’ mortgage is held. The protesters carried signs that showed some of worst violations, including collapsing ceilings, busted windows, and front doors with no locks.

“We are all fighting for security.  There’s no lock in here at all. Anyone can walk in,” said tenant Alfredo Gonzalez, who lives at 1585 E. 172nd Street, another Hunter Property Management building. “We’re humans and we pay rent and we have a right to services.”

Many of the protestors claim that the landlord is attempting to force them out in order to bring in new tenants and charge higher rates. Some tenants have received eviction notices after withholding rent in an attempt to force Suzuki to do repairs.

The six buildings have had a history of ownership problems – the previous landlord, Ocelot Capital Group, a private equity company notorious for mismanagement, abandoned them last year.

Kerri White, senior organizer at the UHAB, said that her organization is working with these tenants to force bank intervention to protect them from a negligent landlord. White says that these buildings are in danger of going into foreclosure.

“When you look at the conditions in the buildings, you can’t help but be moved by it because it’s criminal,” White said. “It’s absolutely criminal.”

Predatory management practices have been increasing in New York since the 1990’s, said Benjamin Dulchin, the executive director of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, an affordable housing advocacy group.

“Even though the building may be in bad condition, there are landlords who are willing to speculate,” Dulchin said. “They buy the building, bring the rent up.”

The rents cannot support the buildings’ mortgage because the amount Sam Suzuki paid was too high, according to Urban Homestead.

Suzuki says he bought the properties at market value.  The tenants who received eviction notices haven’t paid rent in years, he said, and the protests will not stop them from being evicted.

Suzuki acknowledged that he has not fixed all of the violations that incurred under previous management.  “You can’t fix 3,000 violations in one day,” he said.

Dina Levy, UHAB’s policy director, said that Sukuki’s response to the tenants organizing and withholding rent is unusually aggressive, and they have encouraged renters to take him to court.

“We advise them to put rent into an escrow account,” Levy said. “Honestly, they shouldn’t have to pay because they’re not getting any services.”

Suzuki disagrees.

“I think UHAB is a bunch of communists,” he said. “They have a huge lawsuit coming their way.”

75 thoughts on “Tenants Demand Building Repairs

  1. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays..

  2. An attention-grabbing discussion is price comment. I feel that it is best to write extra on this matter, it may not be a taboo subject however usually persons are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  3. Hello just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

  4. Hm, I’m just comfortable with this but still not entirely convinced, hence i’m going to research a touch more.

  5. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers! Agen Bola

  6. Sometimes I contemplate if folks truly take time to compose something original, or are they only just dishing out words to fill a site. This surely doesn’t fit that mold. Thank you for taking the time to write with awareness. Once In A While I look at a page and question whether they even proofread it.Fantastic work with this article.

  7. Hello, you used to write excellent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring¡K I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

  8. I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble. You’re amazing! Thanks!

  9. We stumbled over here different web page and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking at your web page repeatedly.

  10. Good submit. My partner and i find out something very complicated with contrasting sites every day. It will at all times end up being revitalizing to learn content material via different freelance writers in addition to adhere to somewhat the one thing at their store. I would need to work with a number of with the articles on our weblog regardless of whether you won’t mind. Natually We’ll provide you with a web page link in your internet website. Cheers pertaining to revealing.

  11. Thanks designed for sharing suсh a pleaѕаnt ideа, pieсe of writing iѕ fаstiԁious, thats
    whу i have read іt еntіrely

  12. Thank you so much for giving everyone an extraordinarily pleasant possiblity to read articles and blog posts from this blog. It’s always very good and as well , stuffed with a great time for me and my office mates to visit your web site the equivalent of three times in a week to find out the fresh guides you have got. Of course, I am always fulfilled concerning the astounding things served by you. Certain two ideas in this article are without a doubt the best we’ve had.

  13. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you’ve put in writing this blog. I’m hoping the same high-grade website post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing skills has encouraged me to get my own site now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings fast. Your write up is a great example of it.

  14. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Superb work!

  15. I blog frequently and I seriously appreciate your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed as well.

  16. Your style is very unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>