Neighbors erupt over transition home in Corona

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A pair of apartment buildings in Corona were again the focus of public ire as neighbors and tenants came together to denounce conditions in what has become a transitional housing complex despite previous community resistance to its use as a homeless shelter.

The buildings at 38-01 and 38-09 112th St. are owned by CI House LLC and contain 72 apartments. Currently some of those units are being used to house people in the city’s Advantage NY program, which provides rental assistance to families in need. The facility is not a homeless shelter, the city Department of Homeless Services said.

State Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) said his office has received numerous complaints since the Advantage NY tenants moved in last November, including reports of loud music, public urination, loitering, loose syringes in the street, public drunkenness and illegal barbecuing in front of the buildings.

Peralta organized a town hall meeting last Thursday to try to resolve the issue.

“I thought it was a productive meeting,” he said. “I’m hoping that now, instead of walking by each other without saying a word, now they will actually develop a relationship where they both understand that they have a vested interest in improving the quality of life of the area.”

The long-term tenants of the building are also irked at the landlord for what they said was neglect of serious problems inside the building.

“The plumbing in the building is bad,” said Advantage NY tenant Michelle Rodriguez, whose husband is suffering from severe respiratory problems. “My apartment for some reason has leaked behind the wall. They keep fixing it and it keeps messing up. There’s mold in the other building.”

Joel Goldstein, the managing agent for the building, said after meeting with the community last week, CI House has pledged to place a 24-hour superintendent at the property, install security cameras and allow the 115th Precinct to conduct periodic checks of the buildings.

“We’re probably going out there tomorrow or the next day, and we’ll address all the necessary issues,” he said of tenants’ complaints. No other changes were planned for the buildings, he said.

Rodriguez was skeptical of the landlord’s claims.

“I just don’t know,” she said. “The landlord says in two to three weeks the apartments will be repaired, but I don’t believe him. I’ve asked him a hundred times to move my husband, to fix the leak, and they always have some excuse.”

CI House has been the focus of anger from neighbors since 2007, when it evicted 74 families from rent-stabilized apartments in the buildings in order to open a homeless shelter. After a community meeting that fall, billionaire Carl Icahn, founder of the nonprofit, agreed not to do business with the owners of CI House.

In 2008, the group attempted to open a rehabilitation shelter at the same location with an organization called Urban Pathways. That effort was also unsuccessful due to resistance from elected officials and neighbors.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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