Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis held a City Hall press conference today to promise enhanced enforcement efforts against illegal home conversions. Such conversions of homes generally consists of taking lawfully occupied homes and greatly increasing the number of residents by adding unlawful walls and dividers to create multiple tiny living spaces without sufficient exits, ventilation or plumbing and electric service. Some neighborhoods have a high density of such illegally converted homes, with the residents often undocumented immigrants. There are laws prohibiting such actions, but the City’s enforcement has not kept up with the growth of such converted homes.
Malliotakis was joined by Bob Cassara of the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance and Phil Wong of Elmhurst United. Each has fought the growth of such conversions in their respective neighborhood.
Malliotakis called for some specific steps in an expanded City enforcement effort, including more frequent imposition of fines up to $15,000 for conversions, creation of a citywide task force of inspectors that utilizes neighborhood groups and expanded efforts at collecting unpaid fines.
Malliotakis didn’t have particularly specific plans for creating and funding her proposed task force. When asked she said she was not yet prepared to lay out how inspectors would either be moved from other duties or hired, and said that she would look to increased fine collections as a financing source. She further said that she didn’t have insight into why the City has not, in her view, sufficiently enforced the existing laws.
Here is the full press conference: