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Know Your Rights
Source: Times Ledger
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Tenants Rally Against Super

City Councilmen James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) visited a Jamaica apartment complex Friday in an effort to help two longtime tenants who say their superintendent has made violent and homophobic threats to them.

“They want Amy [Anderson] and myself out of the building,” said Sergio Gonzalez (a member of Make The Road New York), who is openly gay and has lived at 88-22 Parsons Blvd. for 39 years.

Gonzalez and Anderson, the tenant representative, had formerly had their landlords sued by the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, alleging the owners have allowed intolerable living conditions to continue in the building. Gonzalez and Anderson said in response to the complaints the landlords hired John Alba to be super at the end of 2010.

The tenants claim Alba has continuously harassed them, pushed them and damaged their property out of revenge on behalf of the landlords. Gonzalez said Alba has also used anti-gay slurs and spit at him.

“This is not a friendly, happy building,” Gennaro said. “This is their home. Their home should be a place of peace and repose.”

Gennaro, whose district encompasses the building, held a rally Friday with Dromm, who is openly gay, as well as groups that advocate for LGBTs and other minorities. While they condemned the alleged harassment, Alba recorded and took pictures of the rally from his window.

When reporters approached Alba after the rally was over, he closed the curtains, making an obscene hand gesture as he did so.

The landlords, known as either New York Affordable Housing Association III LLC Parsons or Colonial Management LLC, said they had no comment on the dispute.

But Alba did have a defender in Thornton Hubbard, who claimed to be the vice president of a tenant association for the building. Hubbard said before Alba was hired, the building never had a super living on the premises and people used to smoke crack in the halls.

He said Alba installed cameras on every floor and the building has been safer.

“He’s slandering the super’s name,” Hubbard said of Gonzalez.

In response, Gonzalez said Hubbard was lying and was not the vice president of any tenant association.

Some of Gonzalez and Anderson’s complaints include leaky roofs, loss of heat and sewer lines backing up. Gonzalez said he had to use a wastebasket to relieve himself after his toilet was broken and backed up with dirty water for days.

Gonzalez showed pictures with evidence of Alba’s alleged harassment. These included cracks in Gonzalez’s door after Alba allegedly kicked it and tore off pictures of Gonzalez’s dog. Another photo showed a pink lawn chair pressed up against the window, which Gonzalez said Alba or a compatriot of his used to spy on him.

Other photos showed pictures posted up on the walls that said “Perjure-Perjury. To delibrately [sic] testify falsely under oath spell’s [sic] jail time.”

Gonzalez and Anderson have a case charging the landlords with harassment and have representation from HPD.

Dromm said the situation seemed to smack of discrimination and prejudice.

“Councilman Gennaro and I will not tolerate a bully landlord,” he said.

For original article, click here.