Flashback Friday – Don Pius & Town Hall
This article was originally published March 25, 2012.
Don Pius is one of the most notorious landlords in Huntington. The history of Donald Pius in the Town of Huntington and specifically Huntington Station is a very involved story. Over the past several decades Pius has made a fortune at the expense of his tenants and the tax payers. The actual cost of Don Pius’ mismanagement of properties is incomprehensible when you factor in everything including police calls to his homes, devaluing of neighboring properties, school costs and social services. As far as we can tell, all of Mr. Pius’ Huntington properties are tax payer subsidized.
Based on various FOIL’s in our possession we know that there are children living in homes with criminals. If we were able to obtain proof of this why isn’t Town Hall, the Huntington Housing Authority (HHA), the CDA and the other agencies who are supposed to be monitoring this, aware of it?
Due to irresponsible Slumlords and government mismanagement, Section 8 housing has been given a bad name. The program is a noble program that can serve an important need if managed properly. Unfortunately, since there is a tremendous amount of money involved in subsidized housing, there are unscrupulous individuals that are taking advantage of the situation.
There are many positive examples of Section 8 rentals throughout our Town where the landlords are responsible. Government officials and residents should accept nothing less than well managed, safe housing especially when tax payer subsidized.
According to records obtained in June 2010 from The HHA, Don Pius is receiving $104,363.00 PER MONTH, over $1.2 million annually from his properties in the Huntington Township, most of which are in Huntington Station. It is possible that Mr. Pius is receiving significantly more than $1.2 million as other agencies have refused to comply with FOIL requests. This is currently being addressed.
As with many landlords, Mr. Pius’ operates under several different names. We are not sure if this list is complete, but here is a list of company names that can be traced back to Mr. Pius. It also includes the breakdown of payments received monthly (2010) from the Huntington Housing Authority (HHA):
- Catco received $41,365 on 26 properties.
- Community Properties LLC received $54,436 on 39 properties.
- Doma Investments received $1,746 on 1 property.
- Kidco, LP received $5,443 on 3 properties.
- P&G Developers received $1,373 on 1 property.
- Don Pius currently owns approximately 90 properties throughout our Township.
- Huntington SD 3 – 74 Properties
- South Huntington SD 13— 8 Properties
- Harborfields SD 6 – 6 properties
- Elwood and Northport SD’s each have 1
Many of his properties are unpleasant to look at, usually categorized by one or more of the following; a lack of a front lawn, many meters and mailboxes, obvious hazards, missing windows, No Trespassing signs, additional buildings on his properties, people living in sheds and other make shift buildings.
We are quite certain that Mr. Pius would never live next to one of his own rental properties. In fact, a little research on Mr. Pius showed that he made complaints against his own neighbors of his 26 acre estate in Old Field. We also understand that he has telescopes out of most of the windows of his own home because he enjoys and values beautiful views.
We know that on at least one occasion, Mr. Pius was given more than $30,000 from the CDA. The money came from a fund that is supposed to be used for assisting local homeowners who need emergency funds for a vital need. We believe that Mr. Pius has received additional funds from this agency but despite numerous attempts to obtain the information, Town Hall and the CDA refused to comply with the FOIL requests.
Don Pius is honored annually at Town Hall meetings when he presents the Don Pius Scholarship. The funds for this scholarship are subsidized with public money and not by Mr. Pius. The Don Pius scholarship was established several years ago as part of a deal that the Town Board made with the landlord.
As part of a deal to acquire 1264-1268 New York Avenue from Don Pius, a scholarship was set up in his name. Part of the agreement was that the Enrichment Center would be given a 10-year lease and a scholarship fund would be established with the proceeds from two apartments above 1268 New York Avenue. The plan included reopening the Enrichment Center and opening a Business Incubator, which after several years is still not opened. We are not even sure why it was necessary to acquire this property for the Enrichment Center because the same services are offered at the Tri-CYA which is a much larger and more suitable facility. One argument supporting the need for the Enrichment Center is that the Tri-CYA facility is located behind the Big H shopping center and unless you know it’s there, it is difficult to find. This problem could have been resolved with adequate signs, advertising, and flyer’s sent home in school folders. This would have been far less costly to taxpayers than the exorbitant amount spent on purchasing and renovating the Enrichment Center.
When the building was purchased it was removed from the tax rolls. CDA is listed as the owner of these properties. The Huntington School district is not receiving any money for the property. All rent collected is kept by the CDA.
There have been between 4 and 7 school aged children living at this dwelling at any given time. From what we have been told, these apartments were supposed to be one 1 bedroom and one 2 bedroom apartments. They have both been subdivided and are now a two and a three bedroom apartment.
The rent is paid for through the Section 8 program. The rent is collected by the CDA and the rent collected is used to subsidize the scholarship. No funds are shared with the school district.
Five $2,000 scholarships in Mr. Pius’ name, are awarded to qualifying students who meet a specified criteria including academic excellence and good character through exemplary family and community service. One of the requirements to be eligible for the Don Pius Scholarship is to have good character. We find this ironic.
Another way that Mr. Pius has profited greatly off the system is through the Take Back the Blocks program. As far as we can tell, every home that has been purchased under Take Back the Blocks program was a Pius owned property. The amount paid by the town seemed to be far above market rate. One such example is when Mr. Pius received $765,000 for 3 parcels on Columbia Street in Huntington Station where the structures were unlivable.