Even as many in the Bronx celebrate the inauguration of the Barack Obama as our 44th President, tenants across the borough are struggling. At 808 E 175th Street, yournabe.com reports how Con Edison shut off common area electricity and the boiler room earlier this month, leaving tenants to walk in the dark to their freezing apartments. A former predatory equity building owned by OCG VII (a subsidiary of Ocelot), the City had threatened to have a court-appointed administrator take over the building in October. Ocelot, in response, sold the property and the deadline for the new owner, DDF Bronx Portfolio LLC, to fix the many C class violations is fast approaching. Meanwhile, the City has restored heat and power to the building.
Patrice O'Shaughnessy also takes an in-depth look at the housing affordability crisis that led to the illegally partitioned walls in the building where two fire-fighters perished four years ago.
Back when Arias moved in, rents in that area were still within reach for the working poor. But in the last three or four years, people have been forced to leave their neighborhoods because their rents have almost doubled. A rent of $1,500 to $2,000 for a large apartment in low-income neighborhoods is no longer rare.
Just look at this building, which is owned by 234 E. 178th St. LLC, out of an office on Lydig Ave. It was valued at $369,000 on Jan. 15, 2005, a week before the fire. On Jan. 15, 2007, the value had jumped to $2,030,000. It's a reflection of how building values in low-income neighborhoods are skyrocketing, and affordable housing for the working poor is shrinking. It has led to families doubling up, illegal subdivisions,
In 2008 the Department of Buildings issued 838 violations for illegal conversions on 688 properties, up from 701 violations on 641 properties in 2005.
Bronx political leaders and someone from the mayor's office should be at this trial. They would hear how poor people find a place to live these days.
Arias never got a receipt for her rent payments. She testified that she never received mail at the building. She was undocumented by Con Edison, by city agencies.
Thousands of people are virtually invisible. We find out about them when there is a tragedy.
So while Bronxites rejoice in the history made today, the everyday struggles continue for many in our borough.