Landlord on city watchlist accused of failing to fix serious health, safety violations

Saturday, December 21, 2019
Landlord on city watchlist accused of failing to fix serious violations
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Landlord on city watchlist accused of failing to fix serious health, safety violations

BED-STUY, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Several families in an apartment complex in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn fear they'll be shivering through the holidays without heat or hot water.

Tenants at 148 and 152 Marcus Garvey Boulevard say they've been dealing with repeated violations in their buildings including having no heat or hot water, leaking pipes, water damaged ceilings, and walls, and mold.

"Who wants to live like this?" asked Donna Purvis, a tenant. "I'm tired."

Attorneys for the tenants say several people have had to relocate because temperatures have dropped below bearable.

Friday afternoon, a thermostat in 148 Marcus Garvey Boulevard read 48 degrees.

"It's cold! I have three layers of clothes on," said Donna Warnick.

When Eyewitness News visited the properties, the heat had been restored to Warnick's building, 152 Marcus Garvey but tenants at 148 Marcus Garvey remained without heat or hot water.

Attorneys with Legal Services NYC filed a complaint in housing court nearly two years ago about the properties.

The New York City inspectors have issued fines for building violation and demanded repairs and the city has put the owner into the City's Alternative Enforcement Program, designed to obtain compliance from the City's most problematic landlords but attorneys at Legal Services NYC complain even those measures have done little to make things better.

"It just, unfortunately, leaves the tenants here living in inhumane conditions," said Natalie Goncharov, an attorney representing the tenants.

In court filings, attorneys representing the landlord blamed 'limited resources' and petitioners refusing to 'grant access on multiple occasions' for their lack of progress and provided the court a list of repairs crews had completed.

"Although we have gotten minimal repairs, the majority of life-threatening violations in the building continue to remain, including the heat," Goncharov said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development acknowledged ongoing issues with both properties.

"These buildings are enrolled in the City's Alternative Enforcement Program, one of the strongest tools we have to help get the most distressed buildings back on the right track. Inspectors have been on-site on a daily basis to ensure that necessary repairs are being made, and we are actively monitoring these properties," the HPD spokesperson wrote.

Nathanial Montgomery, an executive for the Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation which is responsible for the property, earned the number two spot on the City's 2019 Worst Landlord Watchlist.

No one from NEBHDCO returned Eyewitness News' requests for comment but a super at the building said NEHBDCO had to shut off the heat and hot water due to a leak and said both the heat and hot water would be restored by the end of the day.

While Eyewitness News was there, inspectors for the Department of Buildings showed up for an inspection.

However, residents worry that like past repairs even if the heat does return, it probably won't last.

"Right now, I'm frustrated," Warnick said. "They don't fix it properly the first time."

"Just because you are low income doesn't mean you should have to live like this," Purvis added.


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