Monday, August 30, 2010
New website aims to shine light on city's worst slumlords t
BY BEN CHAPMAN AND ERIN EINHORN
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Now they can't hide.
Not Alan Fein, whose Bronx tenants live with urine-soaked hallways, crackhead squatters and filth so severe that one tenant was attacked by a rat in her toilet.
Not Chris Grijalva, whose roach-infested Brooklyn building sports a giant pile of garbage on the front lawn.
And not any of the 153 landlords whose buildings are so disgusting - or so unsafe - they've earned a place of shame on a new slumlord watch list from city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. The site launches Monday.
"We want these landlords to feel like they're being watched," de Blasio said. "We need to shine a light on these folks to shame them into action."
If the scarlet letter treatment works, it can't come too soon for tenants like Lakisha Haywood, 35, who lives in a fifth-floor apartment in a building Fein owns on Bryant Ave. in the Bronx.
She went to use her bathroom last month and says a giant rat lunged at her from inside the toilet bowl.
"I screamed, slammed down the seat and flushed the toilet 10 times," said Haywood, adding that the rodent was sucked away.
When the Daily News visited her building last week, there was no hot water in the faucets, the front door lock was broken and hallways were covered with gang graffiti. Residents said squatters smoke crack on the stairs and urinate on the floor.
"My living conditions are making me suffer from depression," said Haywood, who has lived in the building for 14 years with two teenage sons. "It's miserable."
Fein, who lives in a house with a picket fence on a golf course in Woodmere, L.I., owns or has ties to three buildings on the city's worst-10 list, but denied responsibility.
"I don't manage those buildings," he said, insisting he has only a "small interest" in the properties.
De Blasio's new website - www.pubadvocate.nyc.gov/landlord-watchlist - will let tenants look up a building owner to see if he or she is on the list. They can plug in an address, type in a street or sort to see the worst slumlords in the city. They can also sort by borough or see a map of slumlord buildings in their neighborhood.
Tenants' right to know
The site, which offers tenant resources and lets them nominate landlords for scrutiny, will regularly update names based on tenant information, media reports and data on the worst health and safety violations from Department of Housing Preservation and Development inspectors.
"Tenants and would-be tenants have a right to know what the overall conditions are in any building they either live in or are considering moving into," said HPD spokesman Eric Bederman, who encouraged tenants to call 311 to report hazardous living conditions.
HPD has a list of 200 slumlord buildings that get special attention from the city but it isn't sortable and can't be searched by landlord.
Grijalva, who owns a four-story hellhole on Eastern Parkway, didn't return calls seeking comment. The shaming site fingered his building as the worst in Brooklyn. Tenants reported mice, roaches, peeling paint and plaster falling from walls. Many also endured winter months without heat or hot water.
"They make us live like animals here," said Belita Delgarde, 61, who had to leave a two-bedroom apartment with her family when her kitchen ceiling came crashing down due to water damage.
Other landlords on de Blasio's list say they're stepping up to fix their buildings.
Shawn Curry, who bought two buildings on the worst-10 list in April, says he's working to improve conditions and is negotiating to pay off at least $248,000 in emergency repairs done by city workers.
The News visited his building at 2710 Bainbridge Ave. in the Bronx and confirmed that seven units were recently renovated. Residents said the building is on the upswing.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/08/30/2010-08-30_keepin_tabs_on_the_rats_public_advocate_aims_to_shine_light_on_citys_worst_sluml.html#ixzz0y614jz00