HUD Demands Action By Owners
By John McLoughlin
Saying that "people's lives are in danger here," Congressman Anthony Weiner and a representative from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a four part plan to pressure the owners of the Dayton-Seaside buildings to make necessary repairs. Meeting with tenants and other elected officials on Tuesday, November 16, Congressman Weiner said "HUD is getting off the sidelines and into the game."
Bill DeBlasio of HUD said the best action would be if the landlord made the repairs, but HUD is "supportive of any action to fix these buildings. HUD's business is tenant's needs first."
Several steps were proposed to force action by the owners of 1 Beach 105 street, 106-20 Shore Front parkway and 107-10 Shore Front parkway. The plan calls for HUD's Department Enforcement Center to do a thorough audit of Dayton-Seaside management company's financial records, consisting of an analysis of and the statement about the physical, financial, managerial and legal problems affecting the buildings.
HUD will also have new inspections of the buildings and their conditions.
Weiner released an inspection done by the New York City Department of Buildings on September 14, 1999, which called the overall conditions of the three buildings "unsatisfactory."
Some notable entries in the inspection report for 107-10 included: "the brick façade adjacent to apartments 12H and 12J has buckled and might collapse at anytime," "re-lamp the aircraft warning signs [roof]," "replace all windows within the next few years"; for 106-20 and 1 Beach 105: "monitor the entire façade with particular attention to the buckling/deteriorated brickwork and the deteriorated window lintels, sills, concrete balcony curbs."
If these repairs are not made in a reasonable amount of time, Weiner said HUD will use its federal authority to press for immediate repairs. Such authority includes restricting Dayton Management Corporation's federal government contracts if the company is found to have committed violations, assess fines, building foreclosures and involvement of the Justice Department.
Weiner has also contacted the Honorable Joseph G. Golia, who is presiding as judge in the case between the City of New York and the owners of Dayton Seaside, and asked that "any resolution of the dispute between the city and the operators of these buildings include the prompt repair of these homes."
Dayton-Seaside's owners agree that repairs are needed, but claim that the disputed $50 million tax lien prevents them from receiving loans to make the repairs.
Tenants have continued to hold a rent strike, putting money into an escrow account in hopes of forcing the owners to do the repairs.
"We are paying good rent here," said Barbara Buffolino, president of the tenant association. "It [rent] should go to keeping our buildings safe."
Weiner emphasized that safety was first, saying "the city has put the thirst for back taxes over repairs."
Councilman Stabile came late to the meeting, but brought news that the Department of Buildings would be making the necessary repairs and billing the landlord if action wasn't taken. Stabile expected work to begin within a week.
Dayton Management had workers making repairs on the buildings the next day, Wednesday, November 17, but the Department of Buildings issued a Stop Work Order for "no netting as required, no site safety manager, no design drawing for scaffold, and no licensed rigger."
"We are not going to sit by while these buildings fall further and further into disrepair," Weiner said. "We mean business in forcing these repair to happen."