Common Sense Solutions Not Action Coalitions
It all started several months ago in Senator Marcellino’s office when the leadership of the Greater Huntington Civic Group asked for a meeting to address the real issues in Huntington Station. After going round in circles about what couldn’t be done to hold unscrupulous landlords accountable the group finally hit on something that just might work. The meeting included Senator Marcellino, several members of the Executive Board of the Greater Huntington Civic Group ,former Judge Robert Lifson and Councilman Mark Mayoka.
The meeting was initiated because the group was determined to effect positive change. Many citizens are extremely frustrated with Town officials who pretend to provide solutions with “action coalitions” and reports with no action, follow-up or accountability. This has been their practice for many years. The same problems go unaddressed year after year, decade after decade. The Town of Huntington has formed dozens of committees and spent countless tax dollars studying the problems of Huntington Station. The problems have been obvious to most observers for decades. Some of the specific areas of concern are lack of proper code enforcement even for the most obvious violations; laws passed that are not being enforced; The Huntington Housing Authority’s denial of the problems surrounding properties; and landlords that are profiting greatly off the HHA’s voucher program while human beings are forced to live in unacceptable conditions.
In the meeting there was discussion about how one landlord receives more than $2,000,000 in rents from the HHA voucher program. Due to his perceived over-occupancy violations there is a tremendous financial burdeon placed on the Huntington School district.
The meeting became heated at times due to the frustration of trying to come up with solutions. Finally we hit a home run when the subject of meters came up. We provided the Senator with a large and detailed map of the community surrounding the Jack Abrams school. The map showed single family homes with multiple meters.
As it stands now, a landlord can have multiple meters on their property without any reason or regulation. No questions are asked by the utility company when multiple meters are requested at a particular property. The Senator thought that it would be possible to write legislation that would prevent landlords from having multiple meters on a single family home. At this meeting in August of 2011 Senator Marcellino agreed to write the legislation and after several weeks it was completed. The bill is now on the Senate floor to be voted on. We will be watching to see if this legislation becomes law.
Summary of the legislation includes:
A property owner would be required to obtain approval in order to add additional meters to a home.
Reasons will need to be provided as to why the additional meters are needed.
Any residential rental that currently has multiple meters will need to apply.
A Municipality will need to set up a data base to monitor that the law is being complied with. This would enable a code enforcement officer who observes multiple meters to check the data base to see if the home owner is in compliance with the law.
Click here to read the full legislation.
Many feel that the number of homes in violation and those with multiple meters have grown and can now be observed in many areas of our town. If this law is passed and enforced it will help in addressing the problem.
Story by Nicholas Wieland