City’s Department of Health reports more violations at partially collapsed Morris Heights residence as landlord gets time extension to fix hazardous conditions

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Nearly four months after the partial collapse of 1915 Billingsley Terrace, the six-story residence is still accumulating housing violations, now totaling 208, pertaining to lead dust in common areas of the building, along with 244 reported complaints from residents in the past two years.
File photo Dean Moses

The situation surrounding a Morris Heights building which partially collapsed, which displaced more than 100 residents and prompted a lawsuit from its tenants, has seemingly gotten worse in the nearly four-month aftermath of the horrific incident which miraculously resulted in no deaths or serious injuries.

On March 18, Jay Zinger, landlord of 1915 Billingsley Terrace — the building that partially collapsed in December — argued for and was successfully granted additional time by the Bronx Housing Court to correct building conditions at 1915 Billingsley Terrace, despite the housing violations that continue to be reported at the residence.

This decision to grant Zinger with more time to rectify these deficiencies comes only a week after the NYC Department of Health (DOH) released a report detailing new building violations, including levels of lead dust in every common area of the six-story Morris Heights residence.

The report, based on information gathered from DOH earlier this month, found that construction being conducted on the premises was improperly generating and dispersing paint chips, dust and debris into the building.

Furthermore, Zinger was granted additional time to correct the hazardous building conditions, even as the number of complaints at 1915 Billinglsey Terrace continue to grow, with some residents still unable to return to their homes nearly four months after the partial collapse.

This does not mean the case has been dismissed, however. Zinger’s next Bronx Housing Court appearance is scheduled for April 5.

The Bronx Times was unable to reach Zinger for comment.

According to HPD Online, 244 complaints have been filed at the Morris Heights residence in the past two years, including 22 complaints which are still open, along with an accumulation of 208 housing violations.

The 244 complaints, including 25 which have been filed in the last 10 days, pertain to the building’s poor interior condition along with broken appliances, units without gas and electric leaks and sightings of rats, mice and roaches.

The city’s latest round of inspections at 1915 Billingsley Terrace demonstrate that severe living conditions still persist at the building, according to the Legal Aid Society.

As a result, the building’s tenants are exposed to lead on a daily basis, putting themselves and their children at serious risk of lead poisoning.

“The report of lead dust, which is especially harmful to children and pregnant women who reside in the building, is very concerning — and we are calling for an immediate correction of these hazardous violations,” said Legal Aid Society staff attorney Zoe Kheyman, who is the lead attorney in the case.

According to Kheyman, the Legal Aid Society is now seeking an Order to Correct for Zinger to address these violations and improve building conditions by April 5 at his next court appearance.

Kheyman added that the presence of lead throughout the common areas of the building supports the Legal Aid Society’s allegation that there are unsafe construction practices taking place within the residence.

According to Kheyman, HPD can test for lead paint in the walls of individual apartments, but they do not test for lead dust or in building common areas.

In late February, NYC Mayor Eric Adams and Department of Buildings (DOB) commissioner James Oddo announced the two-year license suspension of Manhattan-based engineer Richard Koenigsberg, who was responsible for December’s partial collapse after misdiagnosing what he thought was a load-bearing column as decorative and non-structural.

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