Things That make You Go “Hmmm”

Filed under: Around Town,Code Enforcement,INVESTIGATIONS,News |

From left to right: Frank Petrone, William Spencer, Don Pius, Robert Fonti

There has been much chatter over the years that Don Pius is supported by Supervisor Frank Petrone, Robert Fonti, who is Chair of the Huntington Housing Authority (HHA) and former HHA Chair, Dr. William Spencer, who is running for the 18th Legislative District. Don Pius owns at least 90 houses throughout the Huntington Township.  All of his homes are receiving Section 8 benefits which means that they are supposed to be monitored by the Huntington Housing Authority.  There is something disturbing about almost every one of his 90 homes including over-occupancy, safety issues, harboring criminals and gang members, prostitution, extra mail-boxes and meters.  His homes cost the Huntington School District approximately $3.7 million annually. Most of his houses have signs on them that say No Trespassing.  At the Huntingtonian we translate No Tresspassing to mean “hello code enforcement officers, there is a problem at this address.”

We too have heard these alleged and presently unsubstantiated claims that Frank Petrone, Robert Fonti and Dr. William Spencer have created a safe haven for Don Pius.  At this point, we do not know for sure, but these are some of the things we do know:

Don Pius was given at least $50,000 by the Community Development Agency (CDA) through a loophole from a fund that is supposed to be for struggling homeowners to make necessary repairs on their homes.  The CDA is an agency that has a staff who is appointed by the Town Board.  The CDA and the HHA work together on many issues.  We believe that Don Pius has been given significantly more money from the CDA, but so far, they refuse to respond to our FOIL requests.

From time to time the Town puts out a Press Release informing the public about homes that they did a “code crackdown” on.  During the time frame of  July 2005 – August 2010 the Town informed the public about 14 properties that they investigated.  Despite the fact that Pius owns more than 90 homes, not one of his homes was included in the “code crackdown”.  All the landlords that were included owned between 1 and 5 properties.

Don Pius is the only landlord that has been given money from the Take Back the Blocks Program.  Despite the fact that our FOIL requests continue to be ignored, we are quite certain that Pius has been given more than $1,000,000 for the privilege of purchasing his blighted properties.  The Take Back the Blocks Program is supposed to be used for purchasing properties that are some of the most extreme problems in the community.  We agree that Pius’ properties are some of the most extreme, but why then were they not included in the code enforcement crackdowns?

During a public hearing for Legislation that would require absentee landlords to register their properties with the town, Dr. William Spencer spoke out against the legislation along with Don Pius. At the time, Dr. Spencer was Chair of the HHA and it was his responsibility to monitor the section 8 homes to make sure they were safe for residents.

Don Pius is costing the tax payers more than $5 million annually.  I suppose we can say Mr. Pius is living large, on a 26 acre estate, on public assistance.

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