It has been 19 months since I first became aware of a fire that displaced Helen Haman from Apt. 5H on January 7, 2014, from her apartment at 461 Riverdale Avenue despite minor water damage. Two units were affected by water damage; Mrs. Haman is one of those affected. Although the fire is under investigation, the tenant of the unit where the fire started is known to have serious mental health issues and was not properly monitored by the program overseeing his rehabilitation. Furthermore, the landlord was made aware of that tenant’s violent and threatening behavior in September 2013, but chose to do nothing about those concerns. Yonkers Building Inspector Lawrence Donahue was demanded to inspect apartment 5H on March 11, 2014, to examine the premises for damages incurred and to evaluate and define the damage firsthand in order to make a determination regarding whether contents therein were required to be removed. Ninety percent of the items in the premises were removed. Thousands of books, furniture, clothing, and large appliances were removed with great physical, emotional, and financial burden. Legal counsel representing Mrs. Haman advised that the contents of the bedroom could remain within the premises despite the onerous and heavy-handed demeanor of GEM Management Partners, the landlord.
Despite sustaining minimal water damage, recognized to border a very small periphery of the bathtub in the bathroom, and absolutely no fire or smoke damage anywhere, Mrs. Haman, the displaced tenant, had her apartment condemned by Senior Housing Inspector Patrick Losco, who is employed by the City of Yonkers. Some people aware of the circumstances believe Senior Housing Inspector Losco worked in conjunction with landlord George Nukho, partner in GEM Management Partners LLC, in order to force Mrs. Haman from her premises.
Yonkers Tribune has learned that the Nukho brothers have earned a reputation of harassing rent-stabilized tenants through a variety of what has been termed to be “unethical and potentially criminal methods.”
Surprisingly, but not withstanding no “legal” notices ever being received by Mrs. Haman, an endless harangue of countless threats and letters citing inaccurate information about she agreed to do were untrue and nothing more than the figment of the landlords deceitful telling. These untruths reigned upon and assaulted Mrs. Haman. Even so, she responded courteously, albeit emphatically over the inappropriateness and inaccuracies of the threats and the inaccuracies of GEM Management Partners’ insinuations.
It was February 24, 2014 when the tenant met with Gail Burns, Director of Yonkers Constituent Services. Since that time, Director Gail Burns has not cajoled or demanded that GEM Management Partners engage in the necessary responsibility they have to fix and remedy the integrity of the building as required by law. Permit have or will expire to fix the building as required by law within 2 weeks time. No action and no notice given the GEM’s lack of follow through.
Despite Director Burns sharing her cell number with Mrs. Haman, when GEM Management had agreed in advance to a time and date set to open Apartment 5H so that Mrs. Haman could continue to remove her belongings, not one of the GEM partners made himself available as was said the landlord would. Despite the tenant writing to Director Burns of these issues, there has been no communication from Director Burns whatsoever!!!
GEM Management Partners, has written to the tenant ambiguously suggesting GEM is intent to return the displaced tenant to her apartment but the language used lacks gravitas and instead is disingenuous at best in its sentiment and in its follow through as attested to by the 19-months long duration so far with our remedy.
To date the tenant has neither heard from Yonkers Building Inspector Donohue’s office nor GEM Management Partners regarding the outcome of the March 2014 inspection nor the timetable for the completion of the renovation work.
It is not a stretch of any right-minded individual to infer that these 19 cumulative months of stalling and delay tactics are abusive in their nature and the Director of Yonkers Constituent Service cannot be other than complicit by her lack of arriving at a fair conclusion as can be judged by the standards set by law.
Are Gem Management Partners awaiting insurance payment before initiating any repairs? It is not even plausible that 19 months on that any insurance company would not have yet compensated the landlord. Are GEM Management Partners expecting to break down the tenant’s will so that she would consider abandoning her rent-stabilized apartment, the residence that has been her domicile for 37 some years?
Besides Apartment 7H, where the residing tenant is alleged to have begun the fire, Apartment 6H has not removed any belongs from the premises.
The three-alarm fire which occurred at 461 Riverdale Avenue in Yonkers 19-months ago did at one time receive a lot of coverage, but none since.
Since January 10, 2014, apartments remained condemned, work permits are set to expire soon although virtually no work has been done, and the building has yet to be returned to its previous condition. In strictly personal terms, Mrs. Haman, a senior citizen and rent-stabilized tenant, is among them and has been living in temporary accommodations for the past year while she awaits to return to her home of the past 37 years.
GEM Management Partners LLC (aka George and Michael Nukho), who own and operate the building, have been completely uncommunicative. Tenants have no idea if or when repairs will be made. And despite the countless requests by e-mail, telephone, and letter for assistance and intervention by both the 461 Riverdale Avenue Tenants’ Association and individual tenants, Mayor Mike Spano’s office, especially the Director of Constituent Services, Gail Burns, as well as Housing & Buildings Commissioner William J. Schneider’s office have been absolutely silent on the matter.
The ongoing plight of tenants at 461 Riverdale Avenue in the face of an intransigent management company and a seemingly, entirely unresponsive, and disinterested elected and appointed officials and their staffs speaks poorly of the City of Yonkers.
Mea Culpa: This story got lost among others and has waned for 19 months. I am sincerely sorry this has transpired. And I apologize sincerely to Mrs. Haman. Kindly, Hezi Aris, Publisher / Editor.