WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES DECEMBER 15, 2016 17 Woodside’s new assemblyman says he supports new rent relief program to curb homelessness BY ANTHONY GIUDICE AGIUDICE@RIDGEWOODTIMES.COM @A_GIUDICEREPORT A new lawmaker from Woodside is jumping on board with Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi’s Home Stability Support (HSS) plan to help combat the city’s growing homelessness crisis. Assemblyman-elect Brian Barnwell, who defeated outgoing Assemblywoman Margaret Markey in the Democratic primary and Tony Nunziato in the November election, offi cially announced his support for the plan on Monday, Dec. 12. Barnwell has been a staunch opponent against the city’s currently homeless policies and actively fought against turning a hotel in Maspeth into a homeless shelter. The HSS plan would seek to create a new statewide rent supplement for families and individuals who are eligible for public assistance benefi ts that are facing eviction, homelessness or loss of housing due to domestic violence or other hazardous living conditions. “Home Stability Support is the common-sense, fi scally responsible plan we need to address the growing homeless crisis,” Barnwell said. “I’m proud to join Assembly member Hevesi and legislators from all around the state in endorsing HSS. HSS will help keep people in their own homes and will prevent individuals from being evicted and forced into the dangerous shelter system. I intend to be a forceful advocate in eff orts to include HSS in the next state budget, because the policies we have now are failing New Yorkers and their neighborhoods.” In 1975, the state created the shelter allowance, which was originally designed to pay the full rents of those on public assistance. Since that time the shelter allowance has failed to increase with the rising costs of rent and services, meaning more and more people are either becoming homeless, or are on the brink of homelessness. Not only will HSS keep more people in their homes, but it will also save taxpayers millions of dollars per year. According to HSS, in New York City, HSS would cost $11,224 per year for a household of three, while keeping that same family in a shelter would cost $38,460. Barnwell joins a slew of other organizations, companies and elected officials — such as Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Councilman Daniel Dromm, Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Congressman Joe Crowley and more — in support of Hevesi’s plan. Photo courtesy of Brian Barnwell Assemblyman-elect Brian Barnwell has announced his support of the Home Stability Support plan. Queens residents warned about the deadly dangers of illegal conversions BY ROBERT POZARYCKI RPOZARYCKI@QNS.COM @ROBBPOZ The city stepped up its ongoing battle against illegal conversions on Dec. 8 by providing information packets at subway stations in two Queens areas with high rates of unlawful housing. Representatives of the Buildings Department, the Fire Department and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) handed out fl iers about the dangers of illegal conversions at the Fresh Pond Road station on the M line in Ridgewood and the Flushing-Main Street stop on the 7 line. Middle Village, which is served by the M line, and Flushing account for the highest number of illegal conversions in Queens, according to the Buildings Department. A number of homeowners in these areas have been caught creating illegal living spaces in violation of zoning, building and fi re codes. Illegal conversions oft en have unsafe conditions and lack the required secondary means of egress, proper windows or ventilation, and secure utility lines. The Dec. 8 fl ier distribution was part of the Buildings Department’s “Living Safely” campaign, which was launched following a fi re in Woodside in November of 2009. Three men who lived in an illegal basement apartment at the home died in the blaze. Illegal conversions poses risks not just to residents but also to fi refi ghters who respond to fires at illegally converted homes, according to Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. In 2005, two fi refi ghters were killed in the Bronx when they were forced to jump out of a window aft er being unable to escape the fl ames inside an illegally converted apartment. “Illegal apartments oft en lack basic safety standards, such as having only one exit — which, if it’s blocked in a fi re, can be fatal for occupants as well as fi rst responders,” Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said. “Fortunately, it’s easy to recognize an illegally converted apartment if you know what to look for. The goal of the Living Safely campaign is to provide New Yorkers with the information they need to identify safe and legal housing for themselves and their families.” Residents are encouraged to report any suspected illegal conversions to the city’s 311 hotline. Visit http://www1. nyc.gov/site/buildings/index.page for more information. The fl iers included 10 tips for New Yorkers to follow to avoid renting illegally-converted units. They are as follows: 1. Know the market. Be wary of units that advertise significantly lower price points for comparable apartments in the area. 2. Beware of the words “basement” or “attic.” Advertisements that use these words are oft en for apartments that typically lack adequate exits. 3. Avoid apartments that have rooms without windows or very small windows. These are oft en found in illegal cellar or basement apartments. Landlords will sometimes describe the ones with very small windows as “sunny” to entice renters. 4. Beware of the word “fl ex.” “Flex” implies that the apartment can be converted into a multi-bedroom unit using pressurized walls. The installation and/or construction of a wall without proper permits is illegal. 5. “Utilities included” is a red fl ag. A landlord may not want utilities under another name connected to the property because those residents would violate the legal occupancy of the building. 6. Avoid apartments with odd layouts. They are oft en described as “unique” or “interesting” and are oddly situated (i.e. a shower installed in the kitchen). 7. Be cautious when a landlord refuses to disclose the exact address. Landlords advertising illegal apartments may ask to meet a potential renter before exposing the address to possible regulation or penalty. 8. Beware of apartments where you can’t have mail delivered. Landlords advertising illegal apartments will oft en request that tenants obtain a separate P.O. Box. 9. Beware of no-lease apartments. Be suspicious of a landlord who declines to draw up a lease, requests a monthto month agreement or requires cash payments. 10. Check for adequate means of egress and look out for locked doors in the unit. A tenant should be able to access all available exits either directly from the unit or a public hallway. RIDGEWOOD TIMES/File Photo Three men died in a fi re inside the illegally converted apartment in Woodside where they lived in November of 2009.
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