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Boro illegal housing bigger than SJU dorms

I want to take this opportunity to respond to the headline in the Nov. 26 issue of the Fresh Meadows Times that read “City targets SJU student apts.” This headline does not justly convey the nature of the community issue at hand. The sub-headline below, however, does properly convey the issue, stating, “Officials urge boro college students to ensure dwellings are safe, report violations.”

Most of all, as this is a boroughwide issue, it involves student residents from four institutions of higher education in the general area.

There seemed to be little need to highlight that the city was targeting St. John’s University and its students, but rather all student and resident apartments in and around Queens to ensure they were legal and safe.

For more than 10 years, our university has partnered with our neighbors through its bimonthly Queens Community Dialogue Group meetings to address these types of concerns.

In a recent meeting with some seven contiguous civic associations, representatives from Community Board 8, the 107th Precinct, the Merchants Association and other elected officials, we heard the issues and concur there are serious problems.

But these issues of non-university illegal housing deal with residents on their own who rent out their homes to prospective dwellers. The university does not condone such living arrangements and has referred such matters to the borough Department of Buildings when made known of such situations.

We continue to meet with our neighbors, hear of situations that are of concern and work at resolution.

Our main issue with this article is the inaccurate headline, which focuses in on one institution of higher learning, when the matter is broader and affects all residents who live in illegal and unsafe housing.

Joseph Sciame

Vice President for Community Relations

St. John’s University

Jamaica

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