Illegal Housing Battle Rages On

The battle continues against the dangers of illegally altered building interiors. After fire and police officials were called to the location in New Hempstead for a stove fire in July, which led to the discovery of nineteen people living in a single family home, including a young boy living in an altered apartment in the basement of the building with no fire escapes, residents spoke out about the dangers posed from situations such as this. Complaints have been made since early 2009, but according to volunteers and activists little has been done against the landlords, other than minimal fines, not big enough to be a reason for landlords to stop illegal housing in the area. Most of the complaints of illegally altering homes are filed in Ramapo and Spring Valley, where the Board of Health has also found multiple issues of overcrowding in homes. Inspectors say that they discovered landlords make as much as $2,000 for a floor or $500 for one room per month. Gordon Wren, Rockland County’s Fire and Emergency Services Coordinator and a member of the task force dedicated to ending the dangers of illegal boarding houses, stated that putting up notices for the landlords will do almost nothing in stopping the matter, the towns have to hand out larger fines when they catch landlords taking advantage of tenants, because the business makes them more money, so it is worth it to pay the small fine and continue business.

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