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Help from the top: Borough President Eric Adams visits Sheepshead Bay resident’s decaying apartment

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Borough President Adams was true to his word, and paid a visit to a Sheepshead Bay resident who called in to his weekly televised question time in despair over the wretched conditions of her apartment.

Lola Weinstein called in to the Beep’s “Ask the Borough President” segment on News 12 complaining of rotting wood floors, pipes leaking through a hole in the wall, and a bed bug infestation and a laundry list of issues that the long-time resident faces every day at her one-bedroom second-floor apartment on 2860 Ocean Avenue between Avenues X and Y.

Lola, 82, lives with her 83-year-old husband Jerry — who suffers from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — and her daughter Lisa. After decades of living with the poor conditions, Lola has started to lose hope.

“I was at my wits end, we all were, we’re suffering here and everything’s leaking, slugging or not working,” she said.

Some of the problems date back almost as far as when she first moved into the apartment more than three decades ago. A hole in her living room wall shows the spot were a pipe burst 30 years ago and the problem has not gone away.

“We were watching TV and suddenly, whoosh, the water came out like Niagra Falls,” she said.

The landlord at the time sent in workers to replace the pipe. But pipe still leaks, and the wall is still wet around the hole even though workers sent by the current landlord claimed that it was dry, according to Weinstein.

Adams confirmed that the leakage is still there.

“Yes, that’s still wet,” he said on a visit to the apartment on Friday Aug. 17.

The apartment is one of the last rent-controlled units on the block and the Weinsteins’ rent was bumped up to $888 from $823.50 in February, according to Weinstein, who said that she is fully current with her rent payments. She continues to pay her rent on time and does not want to hold back until the landlord pays for the necessary repairs.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development has been heavily involved in the building and almost all violations have occurred at the Weinsteins’s apartment, according to a spokesman for the department.

The apartment has incurred 55 violations, of which 14 were for leaks reported between June 2015 and Aug. 6, 2018, said deputy press secretary for the department, Matthew Creegan.

Lisa Weinstein said she thinks the landlord is avoiding repairs because theirs is one of the last rent-controlled apartments in the building and he hopes to force her and her family out so he can fix the place up and charge a new tenant market rates.

“Because we’re rent-controlled they want my family out so they can double and triple the rent and fix the apartment. [The landlord] wants my family out, he just wants them out.”

Lola Weinstein said the landlord even suggested as much recently when she complained.

“Two months ago, the landlord said, ‘You can relocate, you know,’ ” she said.

The leak violations reported on July 31 and Aug. 8 are Class C emergency repair violations, which the department deems immediately hazardous and must be corrected within 24 hours, Creegan said. If the landlord fails to make repairs, the city is authorized to do the work and bill the building owner.

“Our emergency repair team was on site last week and is in the process of issuing an open market order to have the work done and billed to the owner,” Creegan said in an e-mail.

The owner of the building, Glenwood Management, could not be reached for comment by press time.

When Weinstein brought up the issue with her landlord, the landlord proposed a paint job, but that won’t be enough, said her daughter.

“You cannot paint over the apocalypse,” Lisa Weinstein said.

The conditions were so bad that the city’s Housing Preservation and Development code enforcement division said that entirely new pipes were necessary.

“We’ve had code enforcement here who’ve said that everything is so hideous that you’ll need new pipes,” Lisa Weinstein said.

In the dining room, the wooden floors were also visibly rotting — and it is getting worse, Lola said.

“The wood is rotting and the dark spot is getting bigger every day,” she said. “Nobody comes to fix anything.”

In the kitchen, the linoleum floors are peeling off from the surface.

And if all that wasn’t bad enough, the family has had to deal with an infestation of bed bugs several times over the last two years. The problem has spread across the building, according to Lisa.

“Every other day if you walk by, you’ll routinely see mattresses outside, because people throwing out their mattresses,” she said.

But the Weinsteins do not plan to leave the building because they’ve lived on the block for almost all of their lives, and also because of the financial burden of moving, according to the daughter.

“My mother’s been here for 75 years, so for her this is home and it’s never been this disgusting,” she said. “But we’re also not moving for financial reasons — it’s expensive to move out of somewhere and get somewhere decent.”

After seeing the issues firsthand, the Borough President condemned the state of the apartment.

“The conditions in the Weinsteins’ apartment are deplorable,” Adams said. “No family, especially not seniors, should live with bed bugs, constant leaks, and peeling floors,” he said, adding that the landlord must fix these issues.

Adams said his office will follow up with South Brooklyn Legal Services and the city’s Housing Preservation and Development on this case and work to close loopholes in accountability, he said.

“In addition to my Constituent Assistance Center and I following up with South Brooklyn Legal Services and HPD on this particularly troubling case, I’m investigating potential legislative fixes to what appear to be accountability gaps in our enforcement of the housing code,” he said.

But for Lisa Weinstein, all she wants is for her parents to live in dignity.

“My parents should not be living like animals at this age and it breaks my heart,” Lisa Weinstein said.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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