BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
The Cunningham Heights Tenants Association (CTHA) is fighting to address the variety of problems that plague their apartment complex due to alleged negligence by its landlord.
“Action needs to be taken now to give us back the quality of life we deserve as tenants and taxpayers,” said Peggy Perry, the Tenants Association president.
The Cunningham Heights Apartments, a rent-stabilized housing complex located between Francis Lewis Boulevard, Hillside Avenue and the Grand Central Parkway in Holliswood, consists of 44 three-story buildings containing 1,050 units.
Concerns include tenant harassment, recourse for rodent and rat infestation, reinstatement of storage and garage facilities, lack of notice of hot water shut-offs, and ignored requests for handicap ramps.
Most unsettling to residents is the rapidly growing population of mentally ill individuals, whom they describe as “disturbed,” “loud” and “aggressive.” It is also alleged that the management’s partnership with mental health service providers offers them the space to run wards within the complex, but fails to provide the appropriate provisions.
Perry, a former mental health professional, validates the residents’ concerns: “As a psychiatric professional, I can recognize signs of trouble: somebody is going to get hurt.” She also made note of the lack of mental health professionals on site.
With the help of state Senator Leroy Comrie, CHTA recently submitted a list of 14 complaints to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) against the landlord, Ch-Wen Management.
The DHCR will issue a docket number to the landlord and tenant representatives, gather testimony from both sides, and reach a conclusion. DHCR representative Jean Ceus acknowledges that the process will take a minimum of six months.
Comrie believes that justice will soon be served: “By putting our cards on the table and refusing to remain silent, we will hold bad actors accountable for their behavior and ensure this community is protected. The residents of Cunningham Heights will have their day in court.”