Public advocate candidate Bill deBlasio launched an online slumlord watch list on Sunday, August 30 and the Bronx is slumlord borough number one.
The Brooklyn councilman, one of four candidates for public advocate, promoted the list at a pro-tenant rally at City Hall and asked tenants around the city to participate.
On deBlasio’s campaign website, tenants are encouraged to pinpoint slumlord buildings and/or to submit unsafe building addresses for consideration.
DeBlasio posted 39 buildings to the slumlord watch list: three on Staten Island, seven in Manhattan, nine in Brooklyn, nine Queens and 11 in the Bronx.
The 11 Bronx buildings are: 1731 Holland Avenue, a two-story building in Van Nest, 1268 Stratford Avenue, a six-story building in Soundview, 1309 Hoe Avenue, a two-story building in Longwood, 923 Simpson Street, a two-story building in Longwood, 941 Simpson Street, a five-story building in Longwood, 931 Fox Street, a six-story building in Longwood, 2097 Webster Avenue, a four-story building in East Tremont, 1881 Grand Concourse, a six-story building in Mount Hope, 1694 Davidson Avenue, a six-story building in Morris Heights, 2333 Grand Avenue, a six-story building in Fordham and 2654 Valentine Avenue, and a five-story building in Bedford Park.
The Brooklyn councilman referred to leaking pipes, exposed wires and broken locks as “deplorable conditions.”
Tenants are often powerless to win repairs, deBlasio said.
Only the worst buildings will qualify for deBlasio’s slumlord watch list: those with fewer than 35 units but at least three serious open housing violations per unit and those with more than 35 units but at least two serious open housing violations per unit.
The public advocate candidate plans to distribute the list to slumlord building tenants, elected officials and community boards.
DeBlasio also plans to host quarterly meetings of Bronx tenant association leaders.
“We commend Councilman deBlasio for continuing to focus attention on building owners who do not fulfill their legal responsibilities,” William Foster, executive director of Neighborhood Initiatives Development Corporation, an east Bronx non-profit, said.
Gregory Lobo-Jost of University Neighborhood Housing Program in the northwest Bronx applauded the slumlord watch list; UNHP maintains its own list, he said.
Lobo-Jost recommended that the deBlasio research building owners’ water and sewer bills.
Some bad building owners are good people in trouble. UNHP spends more energy on private equity firms and notorious slumlords, Lobo-Jost said.
He hopes the next public advocate puts pressure on financial lenders to squeeze slumlords.
On Thursday, September 3, Bronx tenants had submitted another seven buildings to deBlasio. Three of them qualified for the slumlord watch list.
“Bronx residents are suffering disproportionately,” deBlasio said.
“The city must do more to enforce penalties for housing violations, particularly in the Bronx. We must engage the communities to demand action.”