We have discussed in other posts that it can be difficult to find good housing in New York. Many of the affordable apartments that are for rent have serious problems, and the ones that are well-maintained are often small, located in unsafe neighbors or are quite expensive. Thankfully, a bill was recently passed by the Queens city council which will require building owners to fix certain housing code violations, including those that trigger asthma.
The new bill aims to fix dangerous conditions in apartment buildings. If it is effective, the legislations will punish landlords whose shoddy buildings compromise the health of their tenants, and it will fix some of the worst buildings in New York City.
A recent study from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) found that of the 200 worst buildings this year, 99 are in Brooklyn, 70 are in the Bronx, 23 are in Manhattan, seven are in Queens and one is in Staten Island. Buildings were judged based on a variety of factors, including mold, roach infestation, and lack of heat or hot water.
One of the main things the legislation is geared toward fixing is the number of asthma attacks that are caused by the unsafe conditions. The New York State Asthma Surveillance 2009 Summary Report found that there were nearly 16,000 cases of emergency asthma visits in Queens alone.
The legislation is a good step forward in protecting individuals in New York who live in buildings that do not meet safety codes, but it is certainly not the last step of the process. When mold, vermin and unsafe buildings are not fixed, it puts the health of tenants at stake. Landlords need to be held accountable when they rent dangerous housing, and the legislation is progress in that direction.
Source: The Queens Courier, “City cracks down on unsafe housing,” Gaudys Sanclemente, 9 February 2011