Much has been reported recently about Holland Garden Apartments in Amsterdam, New York. Reporter Jarrett Carroll of the Recorder has written several excellent articles describing the deteriorating conditions of the large apartment complex at the intersection of Rt 67 and Clizbe Avenue. A recent HUD inspection described the conditions as unsanitary and rated it 47 out of 100, giving the owners two weeks to rectify the deficiencies and threatening a takeover by an outside management company.
An article published in today’s edition of the Recorder stated 13 complaints were filed directly with the City of Amsterdam Codes Department with no action taken. The Mayor denies any knowledge of the situation, despite being the acting Supervisor of that Department since firing the last City Engineer and taking that responsibility away from the current Engineer, creating a new position of Code Enforcement Supervisor. After the first year, funding for that position was cut by the Common Council.
The Mayor shall appoint such Code Enforcement Supervisor, Building Inspectors, Housing Inspectors, Plumbing Inspectors, Electrical Inspectors and Code Enforcement Officers as shall from time to time be authorized by the Common Council, which inspectors and officers shall serve at the Mayor’s discretion. The Code Enforcement Supervisor shall have the responsibility for registration of and investigation into any and all bona-fide code violation complaints pertaining to new construction, existing buildings commercial or residential and the Zoning Ordinance.
There is no question that we need help in the Code Enforcement Department. Our laws and ordinances are meaningless without the personnel to enforce them. What I find odd is that there seems to be no problem with enforcing code when it comes to the properties owned by the World Peace and Health Organization.
I take personal interest in the Holland Gardens situations because I lived there for six years before buying my house three years ago. Like many of the residents there, I found the apartment complex to be a pleasant place to live. The location was convenient and the price was right. For three years I lived in one of the three bedroom units with two roommates. When they moved on, I was given the opportunity to move into a two bedroom unit that was recently renovated after a fire. An outside contractor did a nice job with the renovation, everything was new.
This was the exception to the rule. All of the other apartments were in rough shape with worn carpets, several layers of paint on the cabinets, old appliances, tile falling off shower units etc. But the condition of this new apartment went downhill fast. A roof leak in May 2006 sent water rushing through every light fixture, smoke alarm, wall switch, door and window frame on the second floor. The ceilings, walls and carpeting were drenched. It soaked everything stored in my closets and even found its way down to the first floor where it soaked the ceilings and walls.
I was told that a tarp was put over the roof until a contractor could repair it properly. In the meantime, I was left to empty buckets of water that was rushing in my apartment. I asked management when repairs to my apartment would be done and was told by Michael Medwid that they would do no repairs or painting until the apartment was vacated for the next tenant. I was given a fan. That was the only assistance offered by the management of the complex. I feared for mold or a problem with the light fixtures and switches that were soaked. It was another two and a half years before I was able to move out.
I understand the plight of those who live there, afraid to this day to complain to management. Many fear retaliation, having little or no means to move or live elsewhere. It is pure greed that fuels the SHE Corporation, putting aside necessary repairs for profit and playing on the ignorance and fears of the tenants, many who lack the means or knowledge to do something about it.
I hope HUD takes the necessary action to put an outside management company in charge of the complex and hits SHE Corporation in the pocketbook with fines. Without this action there will be no change.