2000-09-23 / Columnists

From The G-Man

From The G-Man...by Gary Toms

Taking On The Buildings Department

Hey people! It has been brought to my attention that many Rockaway residents have been ordered to leave their homes, by the NYC Buildings Department, due to claims of structural damage and unsafe conditions.

In some cases, these incidents have boarded on harassment and outright threats against the homeowner or renter. While some of the Department claims may be true, there is a strong possibility that many of them have no basis for being made.

In a letter I received from a "concerned friend", they revealed how a home, located at 172 Beach 114 street, had been visited by officials from the NYC BD, and they told the residents to vacate. This person then informed me that the house had a solid foundation and only needed light repair work.

I took a quick drive to view the house for myself. I have to tell you, I’m no building inspector, but it was difficult for me to understand why such claims were being made. This house did not seem any different from the others on that block, and the foundation of the house appeared to be very solid. So, I guess what I’m actually saying is something "shady" is going on, and the residents may end up on the street because of it.

Within a few days, the "concerned friend" sent me another letter informing me that their friend works for the NYC BD. The contact then stated that this is a common practice, and it’s a way for the city to gain access to property, which can later be sold to make money for the city. Given the history of the "shakedowns" in this city, this is not a far-fetched theory, and the owners of the home I have outlined will be going to court next month to fight the city’s claims.

I don’t think it’s very funny to play with lives like this. The residents of this home are there because they can’t afford to live anywhere else. One of them is a single mother with children, and her salary is far below the national average. However, she struggles to provide a home for them without relying on the government for any type of assistance.

Instead of working to insure her future, the city is trying to throw her, and the others, into the ranks of the homeless, where she will be forced to receive assistance from the government. This makes no sense!

This homeowner has made it possible for a single mother, and others, to live in a place she can afford. Would the city prefer more homeless? That way they could circulate money back to the city by paying these outrageous amounts to shelters and welfare hotels.

If my friend loses her place to live, she will also lose her job. She will not be able to find anything in the area or anything she can afford. What will become of her and her children? These are the questions the city should answer when they are trying to steal someone’s property away!

Rockaway homes are being taken to make way for what? This very thing happen when the city bought the bungalows from Beach 30 up to 70 street! Where are all of the homes that they planned to build? Nowhere! The city is selling pieces of land to real estate developers, who in turn build homes that no one can afford. They act like you can own a home for $699, but they don’t tell you that this can only be the case if you’re renting an apartment for over $1000.

People buy these places and lose them after a short time. It’s just a way for the rich to make more money," states "Concerned".

In case there are those out there who think none of this is possible, and it’s just hype, consider this. In the September 15 edition of the Daily News, reporters Michele McPhee and JoAnne Wasserman wrote an article on how the mayor is giving strong consideration to demolishing the NYC BD, and turning it over to the Fire Department, due to reports of massive masonry crumbling at dozens of city buildings and "persistent corruption".

Sensing what may take place, the acting commissioner, for the NYC BD, hauled ass from the position a few weeks ago! These facts suggest that there’s a possibility that Rockaway homeowners, and renters, may have fallen victim to certain NYC BD reps.

If you feel that you are in a similar situation, contact an attorney or your elected official. The article in the Daily News is ammunition you can use to battle the city. I ask that all of the Rockaway politicians join in to make sure innocent people aren’t being "jerked" by BD officials, and I also request that they lay the smack down on the true "slumlords" who put Rockaway residents at risk.

Before I go, I want to send a "shout out" to Lt. Ron Hughes, United States Navy. He’s stationed in Guam, and he sent me an email of praise for this column. I salute you, and many, many thanks!

Hit me up at Mapel2000@aol.com as usual, and I’ll see you next week!


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