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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May's Mount Hope Monitor

The May edition of the Monitor is now online.

Stories include:

Drug Dealer Turned Mentor
Local man, Jamel Allah, a former heroin dealer, now spends his free time mentoring Bronx youth.

Cheap Co-ops Coming to Featherbed Lane
Rarely do the words "affordable" and "co-op" appear in the same sentence - especially in New York. But at 150 Featherbed Lane, a local development company is trying to turn conventional wisdom on its head.

Morris Heights Non-Profit Under Fire
In October 2006, CBS ran a story about "fed up" tenants at 1694 Davidson Ave. The building's elevator, tenants said, had been broken for the past six months, making it difficult for the elderly and infirm to get around.
Well, as of last week, the elevator was still broken. According to the super, Juan Fernandez, it's now been out of action for two years.
The building is owned by HPD, but managed by Bronx Heights Neighborhood Community Corporation, a non-profit staffed mostly by volunteers.
Bronx Heights manages 10 HPD buildings in the Morris Heights section. In theory, they should be collecting rent for the city, while putting aside a small percentage (8 percent) to maintain the buildings, pay the supers, and pay Con-Edison and other bills. In practice, however, the buildings (like 1694 Davidson Ave.) aren't been maintained, the supers aren't being paid, and the bills are being ignored (62-66 W. Trement Ave. has an outstanding water bill of more than $300,000).
Bronx Heights' new treasurer, Monica McDermott, says the organization's bank accounts are empty; that there's no money to pay Con-Edison, no money to pay the company that provides oil, etc. She thinks money has been "misappropriated." HPD also sees something amiss: they're suing Bronx Heights (although they wouldn't give me details, citing an on-going case).
The bigger story here, and one I didn't have time to explore this month, is that several former and current Bronx Heights' board members (along with local residents) say that people have been stealing from Bronx Heights for years - maybe decades. "It’s like a cash cow for everyone," says McDermott. "People come in and take a piece of the pie and then they move on." McDermott thinks HPD have got "egg on their face" for ignoring the situation for so long.
We'll have more on this story next month.

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