By Kevin Deutsch and Sasha Gonzales
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The company tasked with maintaining a problem-plagued Bronx apartment building has announced the replacement of the property manager, after Bronx Justice News pressed for answers following the fatal shooting of a tenant.
Residents at 941-951 Hoe Avenue have complained for months about unsafe conditions and health risks at the property. Their efforts to improve living conditions have been spearheaded by tenant leader Lattina Brown, whose online petition calling for the property manager’s removal had received 87 signatures as of Tuesday.
Brown and other tenants at the federally subsidized property say they face myriad dangers there, ranging from vermin infestation to violent crime. A surveillance camera inside the lobby captured the killing this past Saturday of Najai Sow, 35, who was shot three times in his mid-section by suspected gunman Vincent Gibson, 42, about 5:40 p.m., according to the NYPD.
“Our quality of living has taken a drastic turn to the point where tenants are living in mold/rat infested apartments, cracked ceilings, paint chips, pipe issues, water damage, lack of up keep throughout the building,” Brown wrote in her petition.
“Unstable housing conditions can effect us mentally, physically and emotionally. In order for me to address the issues I am asking for the local tenant’s help to remove Betzaida Lugo as property manager of our building. The building is not being sanitized, trash is being dumped on the side of the building. We have a high turnover with supers and handy man. Wavecrest failed to conduct proper background checks on felons. There are child molesters residing in our building not registered on the sex offender list.”
“Our lease mentions that we are to have access to the community room, gym, computer room and the back yard,” Brown alleged. “The ventilators do not work in both buildings which can pose a threat to those who suffer from asthma and other respiratory issues. We pay for these necessities.”
“We sympathize with those who were frightened by the events of the past weekend,” the company added. “The suspect has been apprehended by police and while investigations are ongoing, we have placed two security personnel in the building to ensure the continued safety and comfort of our residents.”
Brown said a tenant organizing meeting, which Wavecrest had previously tried to prevent, would be held this week in an effort to combat the building’s problems.