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Williams takes de Blasio to task over NYCHA woes while unveiling ‘worst landlord’ list

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. (file photo)

Though not officially on the list itself, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams says NYCHA is one of the top worst landlords in the city for the third year in a row in releasing the 2020 watchlist.

Williams placed NYCHA and Mayor Bill de Blasio at the top of the list for the well-publicized deterioration of public housing across the city that includes lead problems, mold and overdue repairs.

“This is Mayor Bill de Blasio’s legacy when it comes to housing and NYCHA. And on top of that, the mayor has failed to keep private landlords accountable,” Williams said. “I think many folks have lost faith, but hopefully something will change. in the last year of our [2019] list, we have drafted and introduced the worst landlord accountability act, to try to curb some of the worst practices of the bad landlords, we are trying to raise fines, limit self-certification, hasten the time that HPD has to respond to hazardous violations.”

In a statement, Laura Feyer of the Mayor’s office wrote that de Blasio “has invested more to improve conditions at NYCHA than any other mayor in our city’s history.”

“NYCHA has put forward a transformational Blueprint for Change, and we look forward to working with elected officials to make it a reality,” Feyer told amNewYork Metro. “The Mayor also cares deeply about protecting tenants, which is why, among other initiatives, he created the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants in 2019, which is currently talking bad landlords to court.”

Holmes Houses resident, Saundrea Coleman, told a different story during Williams’ press conference Tuesday.

Coleman said that rat burrows exist on the grounds while elevators are out of service several times a week. The “patchwork” of repairs done by NYCHA staff from excessive heat leaks means the problem soon returns.

“[The] horrific conditions in our dwelling are due to the disinvestment for decades from the city, state and federal government. This current Mayor, Bill de Blasio, and his administration is responsible for the poor, inhumane conditions we live in,” Coleman said. “We have endured systemic neglect before this health crisis, and we are still fending for ourselves… I personally do not have to wait too long for repairs, probably because I am a litigant in a lawsuit which residents from Isaac houses and Holmes filed against NYCHA on Dec. 13 of 2019, due to the lack of repairs and her hazardous conditions we all live in.”

According to Williams’ office, the top five worst landlords include Jason Korn, with an average of 1,822 HPD open violations; Lewis Barbanel, with an average of 1,383 HPD open violations; Robert Raphael, with an average of 1,229 HPD open violations; Abdul Khan, with an average of 1,195 HPD open violations; and David Blau, with an average of 952 HPD open violations.

Rose Helesca, who lives in a building owned by Jason Korn at 1616 President St. in Brooklyn, who she said has retaliated against tenants organizing rent strikes over the summer for poor living conditions in the building.

“In the middle of July, Jason Korn realized that we were planning a rent strike. At two o’clock in the morning, he turned the heat on us, for two days,” Helesca said. “When we called him in the morning, he said, ‘Oh, I was just trying to see the heat worked.’ In August, you want to turn the heat on us to see if the heat works? This is what he said to me: ‘So if you’re not paying rent, what’s the problem?”

Jason Korn could not be reached for comment.

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