The Real Deal New York

East Harlem explosion neighbors: Our apartments are toxic

File lawsuit claiming they were let back in homes that have asbestos dust, high levels of lead

April 11, 2014 10:00AM

From left: 89 East 116th Street and the explosion site at 1644 Park Avenue on March 12

From left: 89 East 116th Street and the explosion site at 1644 Park Avenue on March 12

Residents of an East Harlem property near the site of a March 12 explosion that leveled two buildings filed suit against the city, alleging they were given the green light to return to homes covered in asbestos dust.

Tenants at 89 East 116th Street, located next door to the explosion site at 1644 Park Avenue, were evacuated following the blast but given the thumbs up to return to their apartments about a week later, attorney Andrew Carboy told the New York Daily News. In addition to asbestos dust, Carboy said the apartments also contained unsafe levels of toxic lead.

The suit, filed in Housing Court Friday, asks the city to force the landlord to thoroughly clean the inside of each apartment in the six-unit building.

The lawsuit is the second filed in connection with the explosion and ensuing collapse of the two buildings, which killed eight people. The family of one victim filed two claims seeking $20 million earlier this month. [NYDN]Julie Strickland

7 Responses to “East Harlem explosion neighbors: Our apartments are toxic”

  1. April 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm, drummed up intolerance said:

    “force the landlord” of a neighboring building where the landlord didn’t have anything to do with the collapse?

    That is how savvy and aware tenants in NYC are about how untolerated landlords are in this city. They KNOW that the owners are depicted in such a way that creates this whipping boy attitude towards them.

    No one ever corrects this type of bias and abuse. Isn’t it stunning to anyone else that tenants will demand of a SPONY to clean their greasy kitchens for them in the meanest manner as if we can make you do anything we want because we are rent regulated and can really damage you because the government and press gives by your leave. They would never speak as dishonestly and abusively to anyone else as they do to their “slumlord.”

    This is because of the way the legislators and press cover landlord tenant issues in NYC. It’s never the tenants fault even if they are running SROs or something else illegal. We’re not being judged by the same standards and isn’t that dicrimination?

    I think tenants as human beings DO know better. They also read between the lines of press coverage and legislation and realize the inequality but how many people would actually hand back an apartment that they didn’t need because they had other homes and the landlord requested his investment unit back?

    My dad and my neighbor across the street coincidentally.

    Who’s the menace to society? And whose a contributor to his community?

    • April 11, 2014 at 5:33 pm, Clean it or we'll punish you said:

      nobody feels bad that it is not in the rental agreement not even a rent regulated one that tenants can make a landlord their whipping boy and demand that she clean their greasy kitchens for them? No one thinks that’s stunningly inappropriate?

      I think tenants would never say such things and demonstrates this kind of abusive attitude to nonlandlords. I think they would be as sweet as you please in keeping with their human rights abuse victim classification.

      But no one gets a chill from the narcissism in that type of inappropriate demand?

      • April 11, 2014 at 5:48 pm, or is it just in one enclave? said:

        Why is it okay in this city that tenants can hurt landlords physically or use third parties to physically harm or attempt to harm them? Even tenant advocates can be involved in physically striking an owner’s representative nevermind misrepresenting them to third parties.

        In all other walks of life, this is not done without social condemnation but it’s okay in NYC if the target is a rental property owner, correct?

        • April 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm, gracious ladies said:

          The regulated and market tenants who have made cleaning demands have all had a connection to places known for abusing maids.

          I wanted to say that to abused maids that it wasn’t about THEM, it was about the abuser. If they didn’t have access to maids, they would be mean to whoever they could get away with hurting in their stead.

  2. April 11, 2014 at 5:35 pm, zone of entitlement said:

    Is it really your landlord’s fault?

    What redheaded stepchild would homeowners demand the city force to clean up their mess? Hurricane Sandy, anyone?

  3. April 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm, bldg had gas plus biodiesel said:

    A tenant in one of the destroyed buildings, Ruben Borrero, said residents had complained to
    the landlord about smelling gas as recently as Tuesday.

    A few weeks ago, Borrero said, city fire officials were called about the odor, which he said
    was so bad that a tenant on the top floor broke open the door to the roof for ventilation.

    “It was unbearable,” said Borrero, who lived in a second-floor apartment with his mother and
    sister, who were away at the time of the explosion. “You walk in the front door and you want to
    turn around and walk directly out.”

    The fire department said a check of its records found no instances in the past month in which
    tenants of the two buildings reported gas odors or leaks.

    Jennifer Salas lived in one of the buildings. She told The New York Times that her husband,
    Jordy Salas, and their dog were in the building at the time of the collapse and were missing.

    “There’s six floors in the building; each floor has one apartment,” she said. “Last night it
    smelled like gas, but then the smell vanished and we all went to sleep.”

    Salas’ family continued to hold out hope today that he’d be found alive.

    His father-in-law, Jorge Ortega, told The Associated Press that the 21-year-old was last seen
    yesterday morning when he returned from his night job at a Bronx restaurant.

    Ortega said his distraught daughter, who is six months pregnant and whom he identified as
    Jennifer Mendoza, went to the hospital yesterday but was resting at his home today.

    Ortega said Jordy Salas’ father was up all night waiting for any news.

    Edward Foppiano, a Con Ed senior vice president, said there was only one gas odor complaint
    on record with the utility from either address, and it was last May, at the building next door to
    Borrero’s. It was a small leak in customer piping and was fixed, he said.

    The block was last checked on Feb. 28 as part of a regular leak survey, and no problems were
    detected, Foppiano said.

    One of the side-by-side buildings had a piano store on the first floor, the other a
    storefront church.

    City records show that the building Borrero lived in was owned by Kaoru Muramatsu, proprietor
    of the piano business. A phone number listed for Muramatsu rang unanswered.

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