BY GRANT LANCASTER
The tenants of a Bronx apartment building are asking the city to foreclose on their building to get a new owner willing to fix the lead paint, mold, leaks, and other hazards the residents have faced for years.
The tenants, backed by Assemblymember Victor Pichardo, the Legal Aid Society and Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, want the city to transfer the rent-controlled 49-unit apartment building at 2201 Davidson Ave. to a tenant-owned co-op or a non-profit owner, according to a press release from the group Thursday.
“We are now asking the City to use its power to allow us the opportunity to take control and make decisions for our own building,” said Arturo Miranda, a resident and president of the Tenants Association.
If a property owner fails to pay property taxes for an extended period of time or there are five or more hazardous or extremely hazardous violations per unit, the city can foreclose on the property and transfer it to another private owner through the Third Party Transfer program.
The NYC Housing Preservation Department lists 277 violations at the building, including 139 class C violations deemed immediately hazardous, such as lead paint, fire door violations and infestations of rodents or roaches.
In addition to these hazards, the building owners owe about $12.6 million in property taxes, according to the release. The city nearly foreclosed on the apartment in 2015 before a group of investors filed for bankruptcy, protecting the building from foreclosure until the bankruptcy case was dismissed in October 2018.
Residents complained of much-needed repairs that the owners failed to fix if they responded at all.
“I have lived here for 31 years, and the superintendent is completely unresponsive when we need any repairs,” said resident Carmen Graham.
Lucero Rodriguez, who has lived in the apartments for 12 years, has had problems with bathroom mold for four years without the owners ever fixing it properly, as well as a broken refrigerator for the past two months, they said.
“I have two children with disabilities, and I don’t think it is fair that we should have to live in these conditions with no one taking responsibility for the problems,” Rodriguez said.
The tenants and their allies think that under a tenant co-op program or a non-profit owner, the problems with the building could be fixed.
“We need someone to come in and really look after our building,” Graham said. “This landlord only cares about collecting money from us.”