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Tenants Can't Return to Apartment Four Years After Evacuation

By Meredith Hoffman | August 13, 2013 8:07am
 Tenants of 172 N. Eighth St. have waited the past four years to return to their building.
Tenants of 172 N. Eighth St. have waited the past four years to return to their building.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

WILLIAMSBURG — More than four years after they were forced out of their homes off Bedford Avenue when the landlord started illegal work on the building, tenants are still anxiously awaiting permission to return to their rent controlled apartments in "the heart of Williamsburg gentrification."

The eight-unit structure at 172 N. Eighth St. — which the city's Department of Buildings evacuated in 2009 for landlord Jamal Alokasheh's numerous building violations — is still unfit for residents, the city said, since final repairs have not been completed on the building.

But tenants say they've been given false promises that they could return as early as last Christmas.

"I lived here so many years," said tenant Weronika Korecki, 83, who first moved into the building with her husband and two sons back in 1962, and has bounced around to different apartments and even the Greenpoint Hotel since leaving. "In 2009 [the city] came in and said 'you're supposed to leave...someone's going to throw you out.'"

The tenants already won a case in 2010 in Brooklyn Housing Court against Alokasheh, whom the city stripped of his managment rights, a spokesman for the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development said, explaining that "management control of a building may be removed from an owner if a building's condition constitutes a danger to life, health and safety."

But since the 2010 order the city has been responsible for funding the repairs, which tenants and their lawyers said have been outrageously slow.

"The city has been slow in paying the contractor so he hasn't done the work," claimed attorney Marty Needelman.

And resident Anna McCusker said she was baffled as to why the construction was incomplete.

"They keep saying 'three months from now,'" McCusker said. "We can't live like that."

The city appointed the non-profit North Brooklyn Development Corporation to oversee the repairs, and the organization's director did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Alokasheh's attorney did not respond to requests for comment.