Get Out! Task Force Shuts 3 Houses
Seven homes in the Rockaway Park area were visited by an entourage of officials on Wednesday May 26, resulting in three being issued orders to vacate.
Community Board 14, through the efforts of their SRO Task Force, assembled members of the NYPD, FDNY, Housing Preservation and Development, and the Buildings Department, and went to 191 Beach 119 street, 149 Beach 118 street, 118-07 Rockaway Beach boulevard, 172 Beach 115 street, 190 Beach 114 street, 183 Beach 114 street, and 154 Beach 114 street. Of these seven locations, 118-07 Rockaway Beach boulevard and 172 Beach 115 street were issued to vacate the entire premises by the next day. The other vacate order, for 154 Beach 114 street, was for the second and third floor of the house.
Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14, called it a "good day" for the SRO Task Force, citing "numerous violations" such as "failure to maintain" and "illegal conversion" as why the task force was successful.
Gaska thanked the Department of Buildings "for their cooperation," saying that they have "come along way in a few years." Gaska added that part of the problem with the unsafe housing, illegal conversions, and SROs in the Rockaways was the way the Buildings Department did their job, but the recent "change of attitude" has made DOB "part of the solution."
Palmer Doyle, a member of the task force and president of the 100 Precinct Community Council, called 118-07 Rockaway Beach boulevard a "disaster area" with numerous violations against it. According to Doyle, the house at 154 Beach 114 street was closed because there was "no means of egress," a necessity in case of a fire.
Calling the SRO Task Force "a safety task force," Doyle said they should not be viewed as just closing houses, but "saving people’s lives."
Gaska told The Wave that the task force will continue their sweeps every month in hopes of curbing unsafe and illegal housing throughout the peninsula.
One resident said he appreciated the safety issues involved but also suggested the closings might send a different message to the landlords. "These slumlords dump Section 8 people in here, suck the city for the money, and then don’t even keep the houses in decent shape. Maybe these slumlords will realize if they rent to people who deal drugs or draw attention to themselves with drinking and pit bulls and all that garbage, the neighborhood won’t stand for it. Maybe they’ll realize it’s not worth the hassle. People will notice violations and alert the buildings department a lot faster if the quality of life around here is threatened."