One Month After Sandy, Residents Left in Dark

Tenants of 215 East Broadway have been without heat, hot water and electricity since the storm.

215 East Broadway.
215 East Broadway.
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.  
Wiki November 30, 2012 at 07:14 AM
We weren't aware that 215 E Broadway was privately owned. Equally troubling to the conditions in which tenants have had to live at this building is the advice of the city to them to pay their rent when the owner has done nothing to mitigate conditions.
DR. Jay November 30, 2012 at 07:35 AM
What difference does it make what they are or who they are what idiots. You have decent people there. The politicians has not done shit. Sadly to say len torres is hispanic. You guys on Patch some of you act as if you kivein BBeverly Hills.
DR. Jay November 30, 2012 at 07:35 AM
Living in Beverly Hills.
Eddie November 30, 2012 at 08:54 AM
Just check out the connections between the building owner and the Long Beach Democrats, and all the answers are perfectly clear.
Tideline November 30, 2012 at 09:15 AM
LOL. In LB, when something does not make sense, you take a step back look at the last names of those involved, or their connections and all becomes crystal clear.
Wiki November 30, 2012 at 09:19 AM
The Nassau County Bar Association recently provided free legal information (consultation clinics) on many issues, including landlord-tenant issues. The 215 E Broadway tenants should ask the Bar what their rights are regarding the rent for this past month, given that the city posted a notice on the front door of the building declaring it uninhabitable. I wonder if the city of Long Beach sought legal advice before "recommending" that the tenants pay their rent. The tenants should also ask about the additional $ 50.00 they're being charged without explanation. And Mr. James, so far everyone here has been on the side of the tenants.
DR. Jay November 30, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Wiki we had an attorney there and yes we are there every night providsing blankets, food, formula and hot meals. Wiki for someone anyone to call any place a dump is offensive. Human beings are Human beings whether illegal or not. Some comments are just better left unsaid. Every one in this town was affected by the Hurricane. Wiki this is all that I am saying. The City as well Shame on all of them. The Lanlord should be blasted not the tennants. Thanks Wiki
Leonard Bauman November 30, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Let us put the truth out there for all Patch readers to see! Please note, FEMA gave each resident of 215 E Broadway $3,100 for rental assistance for November 2012, and $3,100 for December 2012. In addition, Nassau County Dept. of Social Services ("Welfare") is paying each residents rent as it always does. So, each resident is out of pocket $0 of their money, Welfare paid their rents as usual. And, each resident is $3,100 richer if they did not use the FEMA money to rent another apartment. So, residents of 215 E Broadway who claim they are suffering are suffering without heat, hot water, and electricity in order to pocket the $3,100 FEMA checks they already cashed, which was intended for them to rent another place to live while 215 E Broadway was fixed for them to move back to. Are you still feeling sorry for people stealing from FEMA $3,100 for November and $3,100 for December that FEMA gave them in the form of a check, which they have already cashed and pocketed, which was intended for them to pay for another place to live until this building is ready for re-occupancy??
DR. Jay November 30, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Leonard completely false. FEMA just went into the building. No ones property was damaged in the building so rental assistande where n when. FEMA just got there get your Facts straight. We will be there tonight with a FEMA Supervisor. I think since your so concerned come down @ 5:30 to see if any funds were paid to the residents there..
Leonard Bauman November 30, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Mr. James, I respect you a lot and believe you are telling the 100% truth, but has FEMA actually sent a denial letter to every resident of the building for the $3,100 per month rental assistance? You should have the FEMA supervisor look into if residents were given the rental assistance money and cashed it, if so they should be getting an alternative place to live until their lackadaisical and cheap slumlord gets a summons and fine to fix his building. The City of Long Beach or FEMA should get the building up and running and bill the landlord via a Tax Lien or IRS Lien.
Wiki November 30, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Leonard, don't accuse 215 E Broadway residents of stealing $ 3,100.00 for Nov or Dec from FEMA. I personally know some residents from other buildings who got $ 3,100 from FEMA. They had to evacuate because of the conditions in Long Beach. Their apartments weren't damaged and they live in buildings to which electricity and hot water have been restored. Meanwhile, 215 E Broadway is still uninhabitable a month later. Mr. James said FEMA is going to 215 today at 5:30. Why don't you go there and meet the residents and FEMA? Then you'll know the real truth to put out there.
John November 30, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Good to see that some on this board are recovered fully enough that they can go back to their sniping, accusatory and judgmental ways.
DR. Jay November 30, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Well said John
delete me December 01, 2012 at 10:19 AM
What an unfortunately written article on an important story concerning private owners illegally demanding rent for apartments unfit for human occupancy as the housing department has deemed. Leonard the temporary housing assistance might now have been released to those people yet hence their inability to leave their homes, although I'd personally seek housing with friends or in a shelter rather than in a condemned building especially if I had a child or elderly parent there. Y'all bickering and throwing politics in by criticizing the admin is disgusting. Focus your energy and anger in a more constructive place, on behalf of those with less of a voice who truly need your support at this time. Building owners here are breaking the law.
delete me December 01, 2012 at 10:25 AM
Attention: Wiki Wiki Yesterday "... the city posted a notice on the front door of the building declaring it uninhabitable. I wonder if the city of Long Beach sought legal advice before "recommending" that the tenants pay their rent. " The problem with this article is that a resident is quoted as saying "The city has recommended that we pay our rent for this month" but the author of the article failed to investigate this but asking who in the city. I've made inquiries into this statement and thus far have yet to find anyone who would recommend that a tenant with a condemned dwelling give a rent check to their landlord. I expect the Patch to be a bit more diligent in editing their articles.
DR. Jay December 01, 2012 at 10:26 AM
Sad, sad we feed them every night and we walk seven flughts of stairs seniors there who cannot get up and down the stairs. The owner is a piefe of ish. For anyone to say this is for political gain is crazy. The Red Cross came in and took children tobthe hospital. The director of Pine Town Housing using his own resources to get them hot water and heat. The land lord electrial system dates back to the 1940. So you tell me what would you do if you had no where to go ? Anyone welcome to come down we are there every night. MLK with an entire staff. The notation of anyone of those residents getting FEMA grants know the FACTS first none of them knew nothing about FEMA
Eddie December 01, 2012 at 01:13 PM
There are many issues here. A bad landlord who elected to turn his building into a slum, the Section 8 program which rewards this guy with our tax money, and the residents, who aren't receiving services after the government made dependents of them. It's great that Mr. Hodge is going to bat for them, helping them organize and bringing their plight to light. I hope his motives are pure. That would be a rare thing in Long Beach.
jimmy walsh December 01, 2012 at 10:50 PM
it will be beach front after the next storm the landlord wants the big bucks and our city council wants to sell them
Trying to Make Sense December 02, 2012 at 09:51 AM
So, what are the owner/ landlord connections to the LB Dems Eddie? Can you ellucidate this? Just wondering because it is quite a charge. And Mr. James, while you become offended by the use of the term dump for this property, you refer to this owner/landlord as a POS and seem to be describing a slumlord who has created a dump. But why is it that the MLK Center is tasked with this mercy mission? This is great work being done by a fine community organization, however it would seem from the description that governmental emergency intervention is called for in this extreme situation.
Eddie December 02, 2012 at 02:46 PM
The MLK Center is a City government agency, and its role as a "tenants' champion" may be laudable, doesn't the City have a Department of Buildings to handle this sort of thing? It's probably a good idea to look at who is getting paid from our tax dollars to do what at the MLK Center.
DR. Jay December 02, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Hey Eddie the MLK Center inc is a not for profit organization. However the MLK building is a city owned buildung that is it. The tenants are being fed by the disaster relief site amd Red Cross. No one is being paid for doing what is right for those tenants and the children. No one is gaining anything for doing what is right. Long Beach as well as the Slum Lord is at fault.
Eddie December 02, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Thanks for the clarification. But the City seems to provide lots of funds to the MLK Center. What's that City owned car that's always parked outside? But this isn't a major point. Thanks for your service to these folks. Hopefully when this is all over and these people get their living conditions back, the finger will be pointed at the rotten Section 8 program that funds a hovel like this in Long Beach.
DR. Jay December 02, 2012 at 07:16 PM
The City does not give MLK nada. The city runs a day care out of the MLK.
Eddie December 02, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Mr. Hodge, I stand corrected. I see that the MLK Center became independent some years ago. Those guys there do a great job for the community. You taught me something today. Always thought they were funded by the City.
DR. Jay December 02, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Lol Mr. Ed enjoy the rest of your night be blesses.
delete me December 02, 2012 at 09:40 PM
How is the city at fault for the conditions at 215 Broadway?
DR. Jay December 02, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Awesome not for the conditions lets get that striaght. The tenants went to City Hall to complain. Rightfully so someone in the buolding Dept should habe checked it out. Now with that being said for one had the land lord not paid the taxes he gets a call correct. When complaints were made phone calls should have been made period. This is not James Hodge commenting. Thank You
Eddie December 02, 2012 at 10:11 PM
The City is very limited in what they can do with a scummy landlord. They can issue a violation, but must give the landlord time to correct the violation. They certainly can't just step in and do the work and bill the landlord. Not without the proper notices and time provided by the statute. They can remove the tenants from an unsafe building, but that doesn't solve much. So assuming that violations have been issued, what do you suggest the City do? Since most of the "tenants" there are on Section 8, a better course may be to have Section 8's inspectors deem the building unfit and withhold the "rent". Unfortunately Section 8 in Long Beach is very political, and with the players involved here I don't think that will happen.
DR. Jay December 02, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Eddie I agree Section 8 does that then what we all know that answer.
Trying to Make Sense December 03, 2012 at 07:35 AM
"Just check out the connections between the building owner and the Long Beach Democrats, and all the answers are perfectly clear." Eddie, please ellucidate.


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