Cuomo broadens investigation of unscrupulous landlord, service provider contracted by city

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo by Mark Hallum)

Governor Andrew Cuomo is tightening the watch over a building management company and a social services provider after they have been accused of providing unacceptable living conditions to tenants among other allegations.

Cuomo ordered an investigation of the two parties in light of bed bug infestations and drug related crime in Bronx building under the purview of Five Star Management and Acacia Network in October.

Now, reports that Five Star and Acacia have allegedly been threatening tenants with eviction if conditions are reported to the state has prompted the state to expand its inquiry to all buildings managed by the company.

“This harassment, if true, is unacceptable, undeserved and intolerable. All New Yorkers deserve a safe and decent place to call home and threatening those seeking to fight for that is contrary to who we are as a state,” Cuomo said. “In addition to the previously announced investigations, I am directing the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, which provides funding for services at this building, to immediately get to the bottom of this situation and help ensure that these practices are not replicated in other properties.”

Reports of bedbugs, mold, flooding, out-of-service elevators and other safety concerns led to Cuomo directing a team from the state Department of Health to conduct an environmental health assessment of the first building. The state Office of Rent Administration is also involved to ensure rent-regulated units are properly maintained and to penalize Five Star if not, the governor’s office said.

Cuomo’s office only mentioned on case of a tenant being threatened with losing their lease if formal complaints of substandard conditions continued.

Though the state said they have no direct contracts with Acacia Network, the city Department of Homeless Services regularly employs the group as a service provider at various shelter sites throughout the city.

In 2017, DHS was held a contract with Acacia to operate a shelter utilizing all 54 rooms at the Metropolitan Hotel in Williamsburg.

Until August, DHS and Acacia were working together to provide housing working homeless residents at a controversial Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth, Queens. A state Supreme Court judge in May ruled in favor of the hotel’s property owners who sued the management firm for arranging the deal with DHS on the basis that it was not in compliance with zoning laws that capped stays at the location at 30 days.

Acacia did not respond to multiple requests for comment from amNewYork before press time and Five Star Management did not have a contact immediately available while a New Jersey based company under the same name said it was not associated.

DHS did not respond to a request for comment either.