Hundreds of residential tenants in two Jamaica buildings have been suffering through wretched conditions for years, and now they and elected officials are trying to find out who exactly has been letting the problems fall through the cracks.
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) toured several rooms inside the apartment building at 109-15 and 109-25 Merrick Blvd., last Thursday morning after several apartment dwellers sent them complaints about their living conditions.
Both leaders were in shock as they walked through floors that were broken up, saw walls covered with mold, peeling paint and holes and gazed at ceilings that caved in during last week’s rainstorms.
“This is far from neglect,” Comrie said while looking at the building with Scarborough, Community Board 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick and members of the 103rd Precinct’s Community Affairs Office.
On each of the apartment houses six floors there was at least one room that had significant interior damage. Ethel Howell, who has been living in 109-15 for eight years with her family, had to put extra covers on her windowsill just to keep the rain out of her bedroom because of the holes in the walls and ceiling.
“It really doesn’t leak. You just feel the wetness on the walls,” she said.
Her building, which houses 200 people, can no longer use its recreation room in the basement since the floor has become severely cracked from wear and tear. Calls to the company that owns the building, 109 Merrick LLC, go nowhere, according to tenants.
“We call the housing [group] and they say they’re coming to investigate the issue ... but nothing happens,” said resident Carl Stubbs.
The city Department of Buildings has issued two Environmental Control Board violations against 109 Merrick LLC for failing to maintain the buildings’ elevators and the city has fined the company a total of $1,000, records show. There have been more than 40 building complaints made over the last few years.
There was no contact number for 109 Merrick LLC, but it is listed as a “foreign investment” on shareholder documents for a Canadian-based Real Estate group known as Cadim Inc. Representatives at Cadim Inc., which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in both Canada and the United States over the last decade, could not be reached for comment.
Comrie and Scarborough said their offices will be looking into who is responsible for letting the building deteriorate and will be calling on various city agencies, such as the DOB, Department of Health and maybe the Department of Consumer Affairs, to lend the tenants a helping hand.
“We need a coordinated effort,” the assemblyman said. “We need to bring all the agencies that have jurisdiction over the complaints.”
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c
©2010 Community News Group
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