The Village of Westbury and the Town of North Hempstead have partnered to help fight illegal housing in New Cassel and Westbury. The joint agreement, titled “Halt Illegal Housing” was introduced by Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro, in conjunction with North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Town Councilwoman Viviana Russell during a press conference on March 27.
“This sharing of information will assist both municipalities to successfully locate, cite and prosecute the maximum number of violators,” said Bosworth. “We’ll be sharing our best practices and educating our realtors of their responsibilities under the law and also urging residents to report any problematic conditions or situations that they might observe.”
By teaming together the town and village will be able to effectively share information from both housing departments and code enforcement officials, which will result in better regulation of these illegal apartments.
“This is something that the village and the town have been concerned about for a long time,” said Cavallaro. “When the supervisor was elected it created an opportunity for the village and the town to renew the conversation about what the appropriate steps are and what the important coordination and collaboration is.”
For an apartment or house to be considered a legal dwelling, it must adhere to certain criteria in the housing codes of the Town of North Hempstead. Some dwellings skirt the lines of the law by installing unsafe and unregulated walls, windows and kitchen areas in an effort to convert a single-family house into multiple living quarters to maximize revenues for the landlord. These new multi-family apartment buildings continue to operate as a single family home and do not go through the proper channels of achieving the permits of a multi family building.
“This is really one of the most important issues in this part of town,” said Cavallaro. “It’s not about making the community inhospitable to people, it’s about making sure that our neighborhoods are preserved and made safe for anybody that lives here.”
According to Cavallaro, this initiative is the town and villages way of protecting tenants from being tricked into paying money for a dwelling that is not properly regulated or maintained. Without inspections by certified building department employees, apartments are subject to potentially damaging consequences.
“It’s about stopping unscrupulous landlords who really prey on people who don’t have other options or housing choices and really puts those people in a very difficult and oftentimes dangerous situations,” said Cavallaro.
“Illegal housing is the foundation of a host of problems that threaten the health and safety of our residents,” said Bosworth. “When building safety codes are ignored, this puts residents and neighbors in risk of fires and other hazards.”
Residents are urged to contact the Town of North Hempstead 311 call center if they have any information regarding illegal housing.