East 176th tenants rally against harassing landlord

Tenants at 124 E. 176th Street, along with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, rallied at the building on Friday, May 11. They are advocating for better conditions.
Photo courtesy of NWBCCC

Tenants at a west Bronx apartment building are organizing to protest their landlord’s lack of respect.

Tenant representatives banded together with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition to hold a rally and press conference on Friday, May 11 at their Mount Hope building to demand the landlord address the building’s poor maintenance and to stop the ongoing harassment by the landlord’s team.

Tenants at 124 E. 176th Street have alleged that the landlord, listed on documents as D. David, has been taking tenants who weren’t in rent arrears to housing court for eviction for years as a harassment tactic.

A tenant association leader who took part in the rally, Corine Ombongo-Golden, said she’s been taken to court by the landlord, who she identified by the name David David, at least two to three times a year for non-payment of rent even though she always pays. This has happened on a continual basis since 2011, she said.

She said that she and her husband used to share a two-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor where she currently lives, and that issues began after her husband developed cancer and she asked that repairs be made to their apartment while he was going through treatment in 2011.

At the time, she said, mold was present in the bathroom shower and water leaks had made the two bedrooms uninhabitable, forcing the couple to move into the living room.

“I asked them kindly could you please help, and because of my asking they sent me to court claiming that I did not pay my rent,” she said.

Since then, she has been back and forth to housing court, winning each case as the next one starts, she said.

Additionally, she said a maintenance worker in the building used racial slurs against blacks while speaking to her, slammed her apartment door and at one point scratched her face.

“The landlord needs to understand that this kind of harassment has to stop,” said Ombongo-Golden. “The people work hard to pay their (rent) money and they don’t ask for a handout…just respect their rights.”

After laying out $5,000 to fix her apartment, she decided that she would not do any more.

Ombongo-Golden then joined with others to form the building tenant’s association. A total of 40 other tenants signed on, experiencing a variety of issues, she said.

These include rampant rat infestation, broken windows, erratic delivery of heat and hot water, broken lighting and flooring in common areas and the stairwells, she said.

Another tenant at 124 E. 176th Street, Laura Rodriguez, stated that when she was nine months pregnant she received an eviction letter from landlord David David, even though she didn’t owe money.

Dr. Bola Omotosho, Community Board 5 chairman, said that he would welcome the tenants and the landlord to a meeting of the board’s Housing and Economic Development Committee, which typically meets the first Wednesday of the month, where they could hash out their problems.

The chairman, who said he wasn’t aware of the conditions at the building, said that the board sometimes reaches out to city agencies directly on the behalf of tenants in their district.

Calls and emails to the landlord and the building management didn’t yield comment as of press time.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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