Velazquez Investigates Treatment of Ridgewood Tenants
Washington, DC –Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY-07) has written to Silvershore Properties, a real estate company, calling for information on treatment of tenants at one of the firm’s Ridgewood properties.
Velázquez’s office received reports from tenants that the company had allowed the property to fall into disrepair, potentially jeopardizing eligibility for some of the units in the “Section 8” program, which provides a housing voucher for lower income residents.
“We’ve heard reports throughout the City that some unscrupulous landlords are gaming the system to end Section 8 vouchers and essentially evict low income New Yorkers from their housing,” Velázquez noted. “These allegations must be taken seriously, which is why I am asking Silvershore Properties to explain how they intend to remedy these problems.”
The text of the Congresswoman’s letter is below.
March 3, 2016
38 East 29th Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Dear Mr. Silverstein and Mr. Shorenstein:
I am writing on behalf of the tenants at 1708 Summerfield Street in Ridgewood, Queens, many of whom feel they are being treated unfairly by representatives of your company, or those in its employ. As the U.S. Congressional Representative for New York’s 7th Congressional District, and a Senior Member of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services, which oversees matters pertaining to public and private housing, as well as issues related to urban development, I am deeply concerned by these allegations.
Members of my staff met recently with a number of the residents at this property. Many of them reported unsafe and substandard living conditions with their units including, but not limited to: mildew and mold inside their bathrooms and kitchens, severe paint peeling and water damage in the ceilings and walls, cockroach and rodent infestations, and inadequate heat in the winter months. Additionally, residents expressed serious concerns with building-wide issues such as: entrance doors not being sufficiently locked resulting in unauthorized individuals in common areas, excessive garbage accumulation, and failure to provide sufficient maintenance to common areas.
Based upon documentation provided by residents of the 1708 Summerfield Street complex, the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Leased Housing Department has determined that the above referenced conditions has caused at least some of the building’s units to fail to meet the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Quality Standards during a recent inspection. These documents further indicate that your company, as the landlord, has been informed of the situation and has been advised to make the repairs necessary in order to ensure the building complies with HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. This documented evidence makes clear that if your company fails to make the necessary repairs within 30 days, NYCHA will be forced to suspend rent subsidies under the Section 8 Housing Assistance Vouchers Program. As you know, the loss of subsidies falls squarely on the landlord and cannot be collected from tenants.
However, correspondence from Silvershore Properties provided to my office also suggests that in at least some of the tenants’ billing statements, the federal rent subsidies of those tenants participating in the Section 8 Housing Assistance Vouchers Program have not been acknowledged and your company is now claiming tenants are responsible for the full rent balance.
These problems with apartment maintenance, building security, and billing inaccuracies, as reported by your tenants, are unacceptable. Therefore, to resolve the situation in a timely manner I request that Silvershore Properties provide a written response, and all supporting documentation to the following:
- Silvershore Properties‘ efforts to address the tenants’ above referenced concerns regarding the physical conditions of the units, the building as a whole, and common areas, since its acquisition of the property.
- Silvershore Properties’ work plan and timeframe for remedying the tenants’ above referenced concerns regarding the physical conditions of the units, the building as a whole, and common areas.
- Silvershore Properties’ efforts to remedy the above referenced concerns regarding the on-going inaccuracies in the billing statements and rent subsidies for those tenants participating in the Section 8 Housing Assistance Vouchers Program since its acquisition of the property.
- Silvershore Properties’ proposal and timeframe for resolving the billing inaccuracies for those tenants participating in the Section 8 Housing Assistance Vouchers Program who are currently claiming discrepancies in their billing statements and rent subsidies.
- To ensure problems relating to apartment maintenance, building repair, and billing inaccuracies do not become serious concerns again, provide a proposal for how Silvershore Properties’ intends to prevent them in the future.
Please provide a written response and accompanying documentation of the requested information outlined above within 30 days.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this matter.
Nydia M. Velázquez
Member of Congress
Hon. Julian Castro, Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development
Hon. Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General, State of New York
Hon. Antonio Reynoso, City Councilmember, 34th CD
Shola Olatoye, Chair and CEO, New York City Housing Authority
Carmelyn P. Malalis, Commissioner and Chair, NYC Commission on Human Rights
Gary Giordano, District Manager, Community Board 5, Queens
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