Illegal buildings still homeless shelters

What we have here, is a failure to communicate.

The owner of two illegal buildings housing homeless shelters is cleared by one city agency to keep housing transients despite another city agency declaring the structures are still not up to code.

The Department of City Planning okayed a variance application for two buildings in Longwood, despite both buildings showing invalid certificates of occupancy.

The buildings were built beyond the maximum amount of allowed floors, violating zoning laws.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeless Services is still using the buildings as shelters, paying nonprofit New Hope Transitional Housing $88 per family each day, or $2640 a month.

“They don’t talk to each other,” Rafael Salamanca Jr., district manager of Community Board 2, charged of the two city agencies. “And the one benefitting from this is the owner.”

Building records show Julius Ausch of Lifka NY Inc. owns the structures at 731 Southern Blvd. and 1073-1075 Hall Place.

The Southern Blvd. building is two floors above its legal limit. Ausch built 57 units for the building instead of the 32 units allowed.

He applied for a variance to exempt the two buildings from current zoning laws. The variance request churned through a public review process, with CB2 and the Borough President’s Office voting down the application.

It was a revenge move of sorts since Ausch initially refused to show up to a CB2 hearing several years back when he decided to build the eight-story building. The max was six floors.

But despite CB2 and Borough President’s Office denial, the Department of City Planning okayed the variance application.

The request will be brought to the City Council, which has roughly two months to vote for or against it.

Salamanca wants Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo to bring the issue before the council on hopes of voting Ausch’s request down.

The 731 Southern Blvd. building has been a source of trouble for the homeless tenants staying at the facilities. Tales of unsafe outlets, vermin and other conditions forced CB2 brass to stop by the buildings.

“People have towels underneath their apartment doors to keep their mice from coming in,” said Salamanca.

Besides the current expired certificate of occupancy, the two buildings had a total of 90 violations.

DOB records indicate Ausch has the option of applying for a COO. He hasn’t done so yet.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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