Tenants of 215 East Broadway have been without heat, hot water and electricity since the storm.
Story and Photos by Joley Welkowitz.
While some Long Beach residents have started to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, others feel that they’ve been forgotten.
As of Wednesday, tenants of an apartment building at 215 E. Broadway remain without heat, hot water and electricity, after the storm's surge flooded and damaged its electrical panels and meters, boiler room, and elevator control room.
With the elevators idle, some residents have had to climb seven flights of stairs in pitch dark. Daisy Cuvas has a 73-year-old mother who won't leave her apartment because she suffers from asthma and other medical conditions. "It's very hard for her to do the stairs," she said.
But James Hodge, the chairman of the Martin Luther King Center who has acted as a bridge between the Long Beach community and the city, has worked to assist these tenants who continue to live without basic necessities, since the center has become a distribution center where residents can find clothing, food, water, cleaning supplies, hygiene products and a hot shower.
“I am deeply troubled by the way these people have been treated,” Hodge said.
The tenants, however, have found some support from Metropolitan Realty Group LLC, which owns the Pine Town Houses, a complex of eight buildings at 151 E. Pine St. near the MLK Center, which is gutting and repairing the homes of its tenants. Although it is not responsible for 215 E. Broadway, the group has used its own resources to assist the building’s tenants.
“We do not own it [the building], we do not manage it, but these people need help, it is a bad situation and we try do what we can,” said Frank Grassellino, Metropolitan’s director of field operations.
The building’s landlord, Angelo Parridino, sent his tenants a letter, dated Nov. 29, to remind them to pay their rent in full for the month of November. Some tenants said that they received another notice asking them to pay $50 on top of their monthly rent, but provided no explanation for the additional charge. The tenants said they tried unsuccessfully to contact him and don’t understand the lack of communication. Parridino did not return calls for comment for this article.
“The city has recommended that we pay our rent for this month, but if next month is the same, we may not have to pay,” said tenant Christine Santiago, who has remained in the buildings since the storm because she said other apartments were looted.
Another tenant, who spoke to Patch through a translator, said that her options were limited. “It is very cold for me and my family and my daughter has been sick; we have nowhere else to go,” said the tenant, who declined to be named for fear of possible reprisals from the landlord.
Meanwhile, the City of Long Beach’s Building Commissioner, Scott Kemins, posted a notice of violation, dated Nov. 27, at the front of the building. It stated that the building “has been deemed a structure unfit for human occupancy. The structure lacks the essential services and equipment. No occupancy shall be permitted at this time.”
This order to remedy, addressed to Tudor Towers Long Beach in Manhasset, stated that the owner had 10 days to comply or face a $250 fine or 15 days in prison. Only a licensed contractor with the city can do any future work to the building, it said. Both Kemins and City Manager Jack Schnirman did not return calls for comment.
On Wednesday, though, when Metropolitan toured the building, they found a new boiler and new burner were installed, and temporary power was restored in the boiler room. Bob Perine, Metropolitan’s director of operations, called his group's electrician to the building. FEMA was also on the ground to assist tenants with registration to receive storm-related benefits and Red Cross provided them with hot food.
“We want to get people back into their homes with heat, hot water, and electricity as soon as possible,” Perine said.
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