YONKERS, NY — November 15, 2015 — One of our neighbors here at 461 Riverdale Avenue has lived in the building for the past 40 years. She is a senior citizen, model tenant, and continues to work full time. She has raised a family here and paid taxes to the City of Yonkers for four decades.
Two years ago in January 2014 she was made homeless. Our landlord and owner decided to rent to an impaired individual who was being monitored by a mental health organization due to his unpredictable, violent behavior. Predictably, the individual soon began to exhibit bizarre and threatening behavior. He would confront female tenants in the hallways. He would shout and scream and throw furniture at all hours of the night. He would menace lone tenants in the elevator. Concerned tenants wrote letters to the landlord, but the landlord failed to act.
Then late one night the individual set fire to his apartment and his arson nearly compromised the entire seven-floor, prewar building of approximately seventy apartments. Local media coverage was extensive: NBC, WPIX, Westchester News 12, the Journal News, and the Yonkers Tribune all reported on the arson and even covered our tenants’ association meeting at the Yonkers Public Library in the aftermath of the blaze.
A number of tenants were displaced. One chose to move elsewhere. The remaining tenant, the rent-stabilized senior with 40 years in our building, has been fighting for the past two years to return to her apartment. Her apartment itself did not have any fire damage at all. Since the reported arson started two floors above, her apartment only suffered isolated water damage, which was limited to certain ceilings and walls.
In her two years of homelessness, no one in the City of Yonkers government has done anything to expedite her return. Countless people and agencies have been contacted repeatedly, but our correspondence by telephone, e-mail, and letter has been routinely ignored.
We have sought, but have not received, assistance from Yonkers public employees, individuals, and agencies. They are:
Mike Spano, Mayor of the City of Yonkers
Gail Burns, Director of Constituent Services under Mayor Spano
Corazon Pineda-Isaac, Council Member Yonkers 2nd District
Yonkers Department of Buildings & Housing
William J. Schneider, Commissioner, Yonkers Department of Buildings & Housing (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lawrence Donohue, Inspector Supervisor, Yonkers Department of Buildings & Housing (email@example.com)
Matthew Foley, Building Inspector Supervisor, Yonkers Department of Buildings & Housing (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bart Flanagan, Electrical Inspector, Yonkers Department of Buildings & Housing (email@example.com)
Patrick Losco, Senior Housing Inspector, Yonkers Department of Buildings & Housing (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As we reported previously, however, Mayor Spano took time out from his busy reelection campaign schedule last month to pose for pictures during a private fundraising event with our landlord, George Nukho (25 Hadden Road, Scarsdale,NY) of GEM Management Partners LLC (573 South Broadway, Yonkers NY), who has been described by countless Yonkers residents as a slumlord of the worst kind. But when a senior who has lived for half of her life in the City of Yonkers requests assistance, her requests fall on deaf ears.
The landlord’s own insurance company even initiated a fraud investigation into the money he was claiming for repairs to our neighbor’s apartment. He has stalled the repair process, which consists of minor plastering and rewiring, for two years. Such extreme inaction can only be done with the complicity of Yonkers city government.
This is nothing short of scandalous. It reflects the disgraceful, dysfunctional state of Yonkers politics as well as the absolute indifference of elected and appointed officials to the needs of their constituents.
Fundamentally, this deplorable situation reveals a catastrophic failure of local governance and the basest form of exploitation of a senior citizen by a predatory landlord.
And it continues.
Originally posted on November 15, 2015 by 461 Riverdale Avenue Tenants Association