at Illegal Housing
February 16, 2015
My administration has a
steadfast commitment to address quality of life issues. In 2015, the
worsening problems of illegal housing and overcrowding are major
From Tomkins Cove to
Spring Valley and from Nyack to Monsey, jerry-built rooms and shared
extension cords have become the norm for thousands of tenants, most
on the lower rung of the socioeconomic ladder.
Some believe that
violating health and building codes is no big deal. Some believe
that chopping up apartments and herding students like cattle is the
cost of doing business. Some believe that it's okay to exploit those
who have little voice or fear authority. It's not.
We all know that
firefighting is dangerous enough, but it should not be made more
dangerous when people, motivated by greed, illegally carve up
apartments. We can't wait for a child or one of Rockland County's
bravest to die in a converted attic or hidden stairwell.
Our message this year to
unscrupulous landlords, or anyone participating in the illegal
housing business is this: we're coming after you.
Over the next few months,
you'll learn the details of a sweeping initiative to provide uniform
and aggressive enforcement of building, housing and zoning codes in
Rockland County with an emphasis on eliminating illegal housing.
My executive team has
been working closely with County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia
Ruppert and Fire and Emergency Services Coordinator Gordon Wren on a
comprehensive strategy to stop the madness. Because our plans
involve certain New York State health and building codes, I've
personally engaged directly with the Governor's office on the
Elements of the plan include a countywide rental registry, complete
with regular inspections. Another component involves an on-line
"request for investigation." We want to make it easy to file a
confidential complaint about any property in the county.
Complaints filed via the County's website or by telephone will
initiate a streamlined process, including a timely, unannounced
inspection, regular correspondence with the complainant and the
opportunity to witness the Board of Health processing the case, in
strict confidence. We plan to make the code enforcement process more
transparent and much more costly for offenders by increasing housing
With the scarcity of
affordable housing in Rockland and with many residents already
living in makeshift apartments, a new approach is critical.
Improving the local housing stock will benefit all, without
targeting some. Our enforcement will not focus on any particular
population, but rather on those landlords who make money by
victimizing tenants and by victimizing our neighborhoods.
For as long as I serve as
your county executive, the illegal housing business will no longer
be "business as usual" in Rockland. If we're going to respect each
other, we need to start with a mutual respect for our laws. Stay
Rockland County Executive