THE BRONX — A landlord who received more than $3 million in tax breaks through a city program to provide low-income housing in High Bridge overcharged tenants thousands of dollars in rent for over a decade, according to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday.
1434 Ogden Ave. owner SCS Reality LLC got $3.2 million in tax cuts through the city’s 421-a tax exemption program since the building was completed in 2007, tenants claim in the suit.
But the landlord took the tax cut available for providing affordable housing to low-income and previously homeless people while charging tenants as much as $500 above what was allowed through rent stabilization laws and regulations, according to court papers.
Fressali Santana, 31, said she has lived in the building with her 12-year-old son and brother for six years. When she first moved in she paid $761 in rent and now pays $896.
Fressali, who works as a teacher's aide, said she felt like she was "being cheated" when she found out she was overcharged by at least $100 each month.
"This city that we live in, everything is so expensive," Fressali said. "You’re constantly thinking about rent. You don’t want to be evicted so you have to really budget yourself.
Her brother, Adalberto Santana, 28, sleeps elsewhere in a one bedroom apartment a few days a week but helps with her expenses.
"I think they should return what they took from all us," Adalberto, who works as an IT specialist, told DNAinfo. "They’re basically stealing from hardworking people and from the government."
The suit was filed Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of the tenants by Bronx Legal Services and New Settlement Apartments’ Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA).
Progressive Management, which lists the 130-residential unit building on their website, has studios starting at $867, one bedrooms at $931, two bedrooms at $1,123 and three bedrooms at $1,292.
The 421-a program was created in the 1970s to create tax incentives for builders in underdeveloped areas. The tax exemption generally lasts for about 10 years
The building was listed as a rent-regulated building under the program, according to city records.
Calls to representatives for the the landlord and management company were not immediately returned.