2004-12-10 / Community

Sanders Takes On Far Rockaway Housing Controversy

Norma Bravo, who has lived at 249 Beach 15 Street for 18 years, tells Councilman James Sanders, Jr. (left) about the changes tenants have seen in the building since Allied Properties took ownership in June. Also pictured from Sanders’ office are Edwin Salgado and Donovan Richards (District Manager).
Norma Bravo, who has lived at 249 Beach 15 Street for 18 years, tells Councilman James Sanders, Jr. (left) about the changes tenants have seen in the building since Allied Properties took ownership in June. Also pictured from Sanders’ office are Edwin Salgado and Donovan Richards (District Manager). By Miriam Rosenberg

Contributing Editor

Councilman James Sanders, Jr. listened to a wide range of problems from no heat to leaking roofs and unsafe conditions as he met with a large group of tenants at 249 Beach 15 Street in Far Rockaway on November 24.

Councilman Sanders with tenant leaders Norman Bravo and Migdalia Rios. Both Bravo and Rios told their fellow tenants they need to stick together to get owners and management to improve conditions at the building.
Councilman Sanders with tenant leaders Norman Bravo and Migdalia Rios. Both Bravo and Rios told their fellow tenants they need to stick together to get owners and management to improve conditions at the building. The meeting with union officials and tenants of the beleaguered building came after tenants repeatedly tried, without success, to reach the management of the building to discuss the problems, which have occurred ever since the owners took over the building and fired all of its maintenance workers last summer.

Sanders assured the large group of tenants who attended his press conference that he would do all he can to help them. 
Sanders assured the large group of tenants who attended his press conference that he would do all he can to help them. Since the new owners – Allied Properties, LLC took over the building in June; tenants say that services have gone downhill.

“Basically, the building has been without consistent garbage pickup for over six months,” said Norma Bravo, as her son Vee interpreted for The Wave. “There is no hot water or heat. It comes on one day, and then for the next three days it is off. There is no security in the building, so there’s no control of who comes in or out.”

Before addressing the tenants, Sanders spoke with residents to learn about the problems in the building.
Before addressing the tenants, Sanders spoke with residents to learn about the problems in the building. Sanders called what the tenants were experiencing “horrendous.”

After speaking one-on-one with many of the residents, he listed such things as lack of hot water and heat, problems with mold and the cleanliness and security of the building as some of the complaints he heard during his conversations. He also vowed to help correct the situation.

“We’re getting in touch with some lawyers to see what they can do about this situation,” said Sanders. “We will continue to try to reach out to T.U.C. Management to see if there’s some legitimate problem they’re having. If it is a legitimate problem, my office stands willing to help resolve it. If there’s something they need from the city, we stand willing to work with them on this issue.”

Members of Local 32BJ, who are on strike against Allied Properties, speak with Sanders outside the building.
Members of Local 32BJ, who are on strike against Allied Properties, speak with Sanders outside the building. “I have already put in a call to the Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development on this issue. I’m going to see if I can have him come out here,” continued Sanders to a round of applause from the tenants.

Anna Aguiar and Linda Neely have already received eviction notices. Although the eviction is on the grounds of nonpayment of rent, both women told The Wave that they have paid their rent monthly and can prove it.

Aguiar has lived in the building for 20 years. She was in court the day before Sanders’ visit, and she was due back in court on November 30.

“I showed the judge every receipt I had,” she said through an interpreter. “I paid my rent every month.”

Tenants also point out the confusion of who the management company is and exactly where the rent money goes.

Neely told The Wave that Welfare pays her rent directly to the management company. Yet, no one is quite sure who that is. Neely said that T.U.C. Management sent tenants a notice to send rent to them, and she has receipts from them. The owners, Allied Properties, allege that they haven’t received any rent from her.

Migdalia Rios said that the former management told her that HUD wanted to pull out of its contract with the building.

“The building has too many violations,” she said. “We knew about the violations, but we didn’t know about HUD trying to pull out of the contract.”

Rios told her fellow tenants “We’ve got to stick together. If not, we’ll be out on the streets.”

Many tenants also say that, although they have been recertified, they have not yet received new leases.

“I’m calling on management to meet with us,” Sanders told NY1 during a tour of some of the apartments. “These people are going without heat, and that’s breaking some laws.”

“If this is a question of slum lords, and I hope not, then they picked the wrong community. We’re not going to stand for this.”

In addition to 249 Beach 15 Street – in June, Allied Properties also took ownership of 49-10 New Haven Road, 1403-1421 Heyson Road and 26-45 9 Street in Astoria.

On July 14, all members of Local 32BJ (who represent superintendents, porters and other service workers) were locked out by the new owners in what the union contended was a violation of the 2002 Displaced Building Service Worker Protection Act, that protects workers from layoffs for 90 days after a building is sold or a new cleaning contractor is hired.

Since that time Allied cancelled an arbitration date that was set for September, and the lockout became a strike by the workers. At press time, there was no update from Sanders or comment from Allied Properties.

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