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Pols Seek Healthy Homes – QNS.com

Pols Seek Healthy Homes

Rosario and Mauricio Sosa moved their bed into the living room a month ago after their new landlord promised to fix a leak saturating two walls of their bedroom. After enduring humidity and mold seeping from the leak in their Ridgewood apartment for 12 years, one more month didnt seem like long to wait.
But the landlord still hasnt come.
On Tuesday, November 9, the first bitter cold day of the season, the Sosas shivered with over 40 other tenants in front of City Hall in a protest against ongoing neglect of housing violations by landlords and the city, including 13,400 pending cases of insufficient heat or hot water.
"The city is acting in conspiracy with a lot of landlordsbecause they let these violations go uninspected," said Councilwoman Leticia James of Brooklyn who attended the rally. James, along with Councilmembers John Liu and David Weprin of Queens, recently introduced the Healthy Homes Act (Int. 486) in City Council. The bill would require re-inspections by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) of all serious housing violations, known as C violations, and introduce fines for landlords who failed to make repairs. Several similar bills have already been introduced, but this is the first to punish negligent landlords monetarily.
According to organizers of the march, the New York Immigration Coalition and Make the Road By Walking, there are over 60,000 cases of neglected C violations in the city.
"We need justice," said Eduardo Barahona, board member of the Centro Hispano Cuscatln, an advocacy organization for Central American immigrants. "They dont give a single fine for the landlords of those buildings, and they dont do the repairs because they want to get rid of the tenants."
Other families from the same building where the Sosas live on Troutman Street also attended the march. Rosa Loja said it had taken years to get her crumbling ceiling repaired, and only after pieces of it fell on her and her daughter did the landlord respond. Her upstairs neighbor asked the landlord to repair his ceiling, too, but instead he got an eviction notice.
Although the Sosas and Loja said they had thought of moving out after years of landlord neglect, in the end they stayed because they said they cant afford housing elsewhere. "We dont have the money to go anywhere else," said Rosario Sosa.
"No one should have to raise their children in these conditions," said Chung-Wha Chong, advocacy director for the New York Immigration Coalition. "There are too many immigrant families living in unsound and unsafe living conditions."
Protesters argued that the Healthy Homes Act would generate much-needed funds for the city from fines to landlords and with a provision that would require landlords to pay HPD three times the costs of the repairs if HPD was forced to step in and fix the problems.
"This is a win-win for the city," said James. "All we are asking is that these hazardous conditions be inspected, because [they] are affecting the wealth and health of communities of color all over the city."
sarah@queenscourier.com

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