Sunday, November 20, 2016

Landlord's 2-Family Rental Home Illegally Converted Into Five Units Targeted In Raid By NYC Code Inspectors, Leaving 25 Crammed & Suddenly-Scrambling Residents Homeless; At Least Nine End Up In Emergency Shelters; Others Forced To Shack Up With Relatives, Friends

In Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Paper reports:
  • Two families — a total nine people — are homeless after city inspectors cleared 25 people out of a dangerously overcrowded Dyker Heights house on Nov. 3.

    The owner built five apartments inside the two-family home, and officials sealed the building citing illegal gas hook-ups, no fire sprinkler, and a lack of exits. Some of the displaced are staying with friends or relatives — but others are in city shelters, reps said.

    “Our records show that two households (a household of three and a household of six) were referred to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for emergency shelter service,” according to a statement from the agency. “Displaced households are placed in family centers and single-room-occupancy hotels in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.”

    Buildings and Fire Department Inspectors emptied the house on 71st Street near 12th Avenue a little after 8 pm, officials said.

    Two families stayed with friends or relatives, and the Red Cross put up the other four in hotels for two days, gave them petty cash for clothes and food, and assigned them caseworkers, according Red Cross spokesman Michael De Vulpillieres. After the weekend, all four of those families asked the humanitarian organization to pass them on to the city for emergency housing, he said.

    A city spokeswoman could only confirm two families entered city shelters.

    The city cleared 31 people from a similar house on Seventh Avenue and 67th Street in August.

    Borough pols have introduced a wide-ranging bill to reign in illegal conversions with new fines and foreclosable liens on buildings with unpaid debts. Lawmakers and advocates want the fines to aid displaced residents, but that requires an agreement between Council and the Department of Buildings after the bill becomes law — and buildings department honchos testified against the bill on Oct. 31, claiming it “is either preempted by State law, duplicates existing authority, or would prove ineffective.”

    Inspectors currently get into about 45 percent of buildings they attempt to investigate for illegal conversions, and the city collected an average $1.3 million a year in related fines over the last three years — only one-sixth of the fines it issued, agency reps testified.

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