FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 27, 2015
MEDIA CONTACTS: Carole Trottere, Ryan Mulholland, Sam Marksheid, and Rebecca Cheng | (516) 869-7794
Town of North Hempstead & Village of Westbury Join to Fight Illegal Housing
Initiative will include coordination of code enforcement efforts
& increased education
Westbury, NY –Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro, joined by Town Councilwoman Viviana Russell today announced the launching of a joint initiative, called “Halt Illegal Housing,” to fight illegal housing in both the Town and Village that will include coordinating code enforcement efforts, increasing education among both realtors and renters and creating a public service announcement for local TV.
“Illegal housing is the foundation of a host of problems that threaten the health and safety of residents,” Supervisor Bosworth said. “When housing and safety codes are ignored, this puts residents and neighbors at risk of fires and other hazards. In addition, Town and Village services, such as snow plowing, street cleaning and garbage pick-up become over-burdened.”
North Hempstead’s Department of Public Safety’s Division of Code Enforcement and Building Department officials will be meeting on a regular basis with Westbury Village code enforcement officers to share information regarding ongoing investigations and reported illegal activity. According to Supervisor Bosworth, this sharing of information will assist both municipalities to successfully locate, cite and prosecute the maximum number of violators.
“The Town and the Village cannot afford to operate as separate entities when it comes to the issue of illegal housing,” Bosworth said. “Often a code-violating landlord owns property both within the Village borders and within the Town’s jurisdiction. Sharing what we know will only help to weed out and penalize these offenders.”
Mayor Cavallaro added, “Perhaps the biggest challenge that we face in the southeast corner of the Town is illegal housing. The conduct of unscrupulous landlords not only destroys the integrity of our neighborhoods, it also places the tenants of these illegal rentals at risk. Illegal rental housing is not an answer to the regional problem of inadequate affordable housing and both the Town and Village governments have an obligation to our residents to stop this activity.”
"Whether motivated by greed or some other intention, people cannot carve up homes into illegal apartments, cramming more people into the same amount of space that was intended for a single family,” said Councilwoman Russell. “On top of the additional burden on the school district and services, it is just not safe, it creates a threat to the quality of life for an entire community, and we will not allow it."
This joint initiative is the first time that the Town of North Hempstead and the Village of Westbury have cooperated to combat the illegal housing problem in the greater Westbury area, in both the village and unincorporated areas of Westbury. In fact, it is believed that this is the first town/village coordination of housing enforcement anywhere on Long Island.
The “Halt Illegal Housing” initiative would also include hosting educational sessions for local realtors to ensure that they know their responsibilities and the governmental codes relating to rentals. Village of Westbury and Town of North Hempstead officials will be providing brochures that detail the State and local laws governing realtors’ responsibilities when renting property.
Currently, fines range from $1,000-$5,000 for violations and in addition, realtors can lose their license.
These educational sessions will be hosted by both the Town and Village and will also include a representative of the Long Island Board of Realtors.
“It is our intention to work together to eliminate illegal rentals that endanger the health, safety and welfare of our residents,” said Supervisor Bosworth.
“This is the kind of cooperation that towns and villages must engage in to address this vexing problem,” said Mayor Cavallaro. “We expect that this joint effort will yield positive and measurable results for the greater Westbury community.”
"Recent collaborations between the Town and the Village have proven to be successful and I believe this joint effort will also," said Councilwoman Russell.
Residents of Carle Place, New Cassel or Westbury can call the Town’s 311 Call Center to report illegal housing issues or if they have any questions. Village residents should call the Village code enforcement hotline (516) 333-1869, or the Town’s 311 Call Center to report illegal housing issues. To view the Public Service Announcement visit http://youtu.be/ttpylo91p3s or www.mynhtv.com.
Supervisor Bosworth addresses the crowd, flanked by Mayor Cavallaro (left) and Councilwoman Russell (right)
Mayor Cavallaro addresses the crowd flanked by Supervisor Bosworth and Councilwoman Russell, with members of the Westbury Village Board behind him.