Residents and police protest ‘deplorable conditions’ at apartment buildings in Hell’s Kitchen

Residents, local politicians and housing activists gathered on W46th Street this morning to protest conditions at two buildings that have been a living nightmare for apartment renters for years.

Leah James, director of the Housing Conservation Coordinators organization with tenants and politicians on W46th Street today. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Tenants at 410 and 412 W46th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues joined Leah James, director of organizing at Housing Conservation CoordinatorsManhattan Borough President Mark Levine, City Councilman Erik Bottcher and Paul Devlin, Co-Chair of Community Board 4’s Land Use Committee to speak out against widespread neglect by building management company, Keystone Property Management.

Residents of both units cited lack of heat and hot water, leaks, mold, collapsing ceilings, lack of security, rodent and cockroach infestations, lack of essential repairs, including broken plumbing, holes in floors and walls, with no repair or response from management, which continues to charge residents steep rents and regularly harasses tenants, demanding additional payment. Continuing to charge rent under such conditions constitutes a violation of the guarantee of habitabilityunder New York law.

John Reeds, who moved to 412 W46th in 1992, saw his building (then already in hot water with city authorities for illegal subletting through AirBnb) fall into disrepair after a 2015 fire destroyed the roof. Rather than properly repair the property, management opted to put a tarp over the damage, leading to extensive flooding in the hallways and collapsed ceilings due to water damage inside the apartments.

John Reeds, tenant at 410-412 W46th Street in Hell’s Kitchen. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Says Reeds: “Every New Yorker deserves a roof over their head, but we were denied that right when our landlords left us, literally, without a roof, without security, without compassion and safety and a dry place to sleep. after a suspicious fire destroyed our roof and our landlord’s ruthless negligence destroyed a historic rent-stabilized Hell’s Kitchen building.

He added: “We repeatedly asked for relief which never came. Storm after storm, flood after flood. We begged for help, someone to save us and our sinking building. After 16 months of enduring unlivable conditions, the tenants were relocated to 410 W46th without warning, with the promise that they would eventually be returned to their rent-stabilized units at 412.

“Not only is it now impossible, but the same fate awaits our current house. The roof needs to be repaired, the front door remains unlocked, the uncontrolled flooding continues, we experience the heat from radiators in the summer and periods without heat or hot water in the winter, squatters invade storage apartments, leaving condoms and drug needles in the hall, once again putting our lives at risk, once again bringing us closer to losing our our home,” Reeds said.

Fellow tenants John Gargan and Garrett Kimball, who have lived at 412 and then 410 W46th Street for 16 years, echoed Reeds’ concerns, citing unlivable conditions as well as illegal AirBnb rentals by management, resulting in significant housing issues. security for tenants.

“Broken contracts and illegal practices were addressed in court in a harassment case against property management and landlords in which tenants at 410 W46th Street were victorious. However, nothing has changed. We hope that the landlords, superintendents and management companies of these properties across the city will make things right for all tenants who have lived and inhabit their properties Compensation and court orders seem to be the only things they answer to, or that tenants can use as a tool to win their lawsuits and repay the costs so lost by living here and in their many other slum rental properties,” Gargan and Kimball said.

The group of politicians and activists, many of whom were present at this weekend’s dedication to Frances Perkins on the same block, stood just steps from Restaurant Row, pointing to the barricaded unit at 412 W46th Street as a living example of the unlivable conditions forced upon the neighborhood’s longtime residents.

Representatives of the nonprofit Housing Conservation Coordinators – which have been working with tenants since the summer of 2021 to hold Keystone to account – highlighted the struggle. “Tenants here at 410 W 46th Street have been asking their landlord to perform critical repairs for years. They lived without heating during the coldest months of the year – they lived without hot water for bathing and cleaning and lived with health hazards and uninhabitable spaces due to unrepaired water damage . These community members lived with harassment from this landlord when they simply asked to live in a clean, warm and safe space. These tenants, like all New Yorkers, have a right to safe and sanitary living conditions. These tenants, like all New Yorkers, have the right to live free from harassment. This owner, Keystone Management, must stop the harassment and make the repairs immediately. The time for owner responsibility has come! said Leah James, director of the organization.

Paul Devlin, co-chair of the Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee at Manhattan Community Board 4, speaks. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Paul Devlin of the Community Board 4 Land Use Committee highlighted a pattern of neglect by many Hell’s Kitchen landlords, citing 19 rent-stabilized and historic buildings in the neighborhood that suffered similar deterioration, for be demolished and rebuilt at market rate, high -priced luxury apartments. “It’s a model of neglect, where it’s easier for a landlord to let a building fall into disrepair and go to the Buildings Department and ask for it to be demolished rather than go through the HPD. [Housing Preservation Department] emergency repair program to restore and preserve buildings. Here in the Clinton Special Preservation Area – for us, it’s more important to preserve these historic buildings than to tear them down and displace local residents,” said Devlin.

City Council member Erik Bottcher agreed action needed to be taken by the city. “A safe and healthy home is a human right,” Bottcher said. “These tenants have been through absolute hell at the hands of their landlord and I am outraged at the conditions they have endured. We will not tolerate this in our community, and we will amplify their voices to ensure that the pain that they feel be seen and heard and that the appalling actions of this slumber merchant be punished.

The management company, which was sued by the city in 2019 for his illegal activity on Airbnb, was summoned to New York State Court by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which is seeking to have the building repaired and operated by an administrator appointed by the court under the Program 7A. W42ST has contacted Robin Ignico of Keystone Management and has yet to receive a response.

John Reeds’ apartment at 412 W46th Street before the landlord moved it next door. Photo provided by John Reeds

Tenant John Reeds, hoping for noticeable results from the current litigation, stressed the right of every New Yorker to safe, livable and affordable housing. “New York City is a collection of neighborhoods – a neighborhood is a collection of homes, and a home is a place where we have the right to stay safe and grow our roots and live our lives with dignity and security. , no matter what happens on the streets around us. To shop at local stores and maintain friendships with neighbors and ask for help if we are in pain. When is enough? It is time to not only save our home, but to save our neighborhood and hold all New York homeowners accountable for their disregard for the people who make this city so wonderful, a city they deserve to call home.

If you are having similar problems with your accommodation, the Housing Conservation Coordinators are available for consultation. Contact Organization Director Leah James at (646) 399-5487 or [email protected].

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