2487 Davidson Avenue
by Jon Allsop
Additional reporting by Micah Hauser and Mike Elsen-Rooney
The Bronx Ink has profiled buildings owned by Ved Parkash, who was until recently rated the worst landlord in New York by the Public Advocate’s office. The profiles form part of a wider investigation into housing conditions and tenant harassment in the Bronx. Find other buildings using the panel to the right.
Mary Locklear was discharged from the hospital in early September and needs a wheelchair to get around. With the help of her daughter, Tabatha, she contacted the management of her building at 2487 Davidson Avenue near Fordham Road to request a ramp over the stoop, but it has yet to be installed. Sometimes, she relies on fellow residents to lift her into the building.
Although the building was built before 1987 and is thus exempt from disability access laws, ramps come under the “reasonable accommodations” that landlords are expected to make for disabled tenants under New York human rights legislation. Failure to swiftly comply is not the only complaint that Locklear has against her landlord, Ved Parkash.
“People in this building are too scared to organize against the landlord. I compiled a petition about the conditions here and only five people signed it,” Locklear said. Parkash took ownership of the building in 2005, two years after Locklear, 66, moved there from her native North Carolina.
She said that she marched into Parkash’s office in Jamaica, Queens a couple of years ago, refusing to pay her rent until water damage in her apartment was rectified. Parkash was taking her to court for this non-payment.
“I want you to try and throw me out,” Locklear remembered telling Parkash, who declined to comment on the allegation. She stayed put and today her apartment shows few signs of decay, although mold creeps around the top of her kitchen wall where she said water regularly leaks through. Her chairs remain wrapped in plastic to protect them.
The building’s elevator barely fits a wheelchair, and has been the subject of 38 violation complaints to the city’s Department of Buildings since Parkash took over. The inside walls are scarred and three sides of the floor are welded haphazardly to the walls.
City records also show that the building contains apartments where partition walls have been illegally erected to subdivide living space. Locklear said that tenants are crammed into these apartments.
In one, kitchen facilities were relocated to the apartment’s hallway. Locklear’s daughter, Tabatha, said that the stove and refrigerator were moved to free up kitchen space for people to sleep in.
In another, one tenant’s entire living space is only big enough to squeeze in a double mattress.
“The authorities come quite often to kick people out, but new ones just get moved straight back in,” said Tabatha Locklear.
On October 5, the Department of Buildings stuck a thin strip of paper to the front door of the building, notifying residents that they had attempted to inspect both of these apartments in response to a complaint but had not been able to gain access.
The building’s superintendent, Angel Paulino, was unreachable by phone.
Daniel Sullivan, a 22 year old resident, praised the superintendent. “He takes good care of the building, particularly since about two months ago,” he said. “He took care of a bathroom leak and changed our locks when it was needed.”
Mary Locklear, however, feels that the management of the building was better before Parkash took it over. “Good people owned the building before,” she said, “but things got worse, baby. They got worse.”
“I want her to move out,” said daughter Tabatha of her mother. “She lives here on her own, and anything could happen in this building.”