2005-03-11 / Community

Ocean Bay Apts. Top Vacancy List

By Brian Magoolaghan

  • The public housing development with the most vacant apartments in the borough – and the second highest citywide – is right here in Rockaway, according to a controversial new report.
  • Nearly 20 percent of the units that make up the Ocean Bay Apartments, a 31-building development covering Arverne and Edgemere, are vacant, according to the report released by Assemblymember Scott Stringer, who represents part of Manhattan and is in the race to become borough president there.

    Stringer’s study, which alleges the city is perpetuating “a severe housing crisis,” is based on city documents obtained though the Freedom of Information Act, but the NYC Housing Authority quickly challenged his findings.

    “Assemblyman Stringer’s accusations demonstrate that he neither understands the need to modernize our buildings so that residents can live in safe and secure housing, how you go about achieving this, nor how to accurately interpret data on occupancy of our buildings,” blasted Housing Authority spokesperson Howard Marder in a response to reporters after Stringer’s report was released to the New York Times. The root cause of vacancies is ongoing restoration and modernization at the city’s apartments, 65 percent of which are more than 30-years-old, he said.

    “Rather than let the apartments reach a point where they can no longer be used, we often have to take these units off the rent rolls while work is safely completed… NYCHA sets the example for other landlords in preserving housing for the future,” Marder told The Wave.

    “The entire [Ocean Bay] development has undergone not just revitalization of the buildings, but of the neighborhood as well as part of the HOPE VI restoration,” Marder said. Phase one of that project is complete and phase two is underway.

    The vacancy rate at Ocean Bay Apartments is just .068 percent – significantly lower than the citywide rate of .5 percent, which has improved over the last five years, he said.

    There are 238 apartments awaiting restoration and 60 in the process of being rented at Ocean Bay, according to Marder.

    “We’ve already called people in for interviews for those units. Hopefully they’ll accept and will have them in apartments shortly,” Marder added.

    A call to Stringer’s office seeking comment on the Housing Authority’s response was not returned.

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