58 East 190th Street
by Micah Hauser
Additional reporting by Jon Allsop
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.
The red brick façade of 58 East 190th Street stands out against the nondescript browns and greys of the surrounding apartment buildings on this quiet residential block in the northwest Bronx. For Frances Quiroga, who lives there with her four children, it stands out for other reasons too.
“It’s a nightmare,” said Quiroga. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Over the past four years she says she’s dealt with a cascading list of problems in her second-floor apartment, from leaking pipes to persistent and unresolved infestations.
“There are bedbugs everywhere,” said Quiroga. “I had to throw out all my furniture. My daughter, Brianna, gets bites all over her body.”
Last year, Quiroga said the building’s former superintendent forced his way into her apartment to demolish a temporary sheetrock wall that separated sleeping and living areas, as Quiroga and her children looked on helplessly.
“After the wall, I never even let that guy into my apartment anymore,” she said.
Quiroga sent Manny, the boyfriend of her oldest daughter, to the building’s management office in Queens to complain about the intrusion. He claimed the person he spoke to at the office said the superintendent was just “doing his job.” It’s unclear who constructed the wall in the first place. Parkash declined to comment.
Since he bought the building in 2005 for $3.2 million, there have been at least 22 violations and 27 complaints brought against it.
All but four of the complaints pertain to the elevator, which often stops three to five inches below the landing, a dangerous situation for elderly or disabled tenants who live near the top of this six-story building. And that’s if the elevator is working at all. Quiroga doesn’t risk it – she takes the stairs.
By law, licensed inspection agencies conduct load and speed tests on elevators every five years. Department of Buildings records indicate that the elevator in 58 East 190th Street has failed this test since July 2011. City inspectors have found defects on six different occasions within that timeframe.
Andrea Fauntlero lives in a one-bedroom with her two kids. She hasn’t had many problems with the elevator, claiming that it’s only been broken on four separate occasions since she moved into the building two years ago. For her, pest control is the main issue that could be improved.
“There are a lot of mice, and a lot of roaches,” she said.
Quiroga suspects that irregular trash collection is partly to blame. There’s no functional garbage shoot – instead, tenants shove their bags through a broken window under a staircase in the lobby. It sometimes piles up.
“Come on a Sunday morning,” said Quiroga. “Oh, the smell.”
Despite the lackluster upkeep and abundance of vermin, Quiroga and Fauntlero said they had to pay four months rent in advance of leasing their apartments, double prevailing standards.
“For that deposit, I expected to walk in and be like, ‘wow,’” said Fauntlero.
As affordable housing becomes increasingly scarce, many lower income New Yorkers simply don’t have a choice. They take what they can get, and try to stay positive.
“There’s good heat here,” Quiroga admitted. “That’s the only good thing I can say about this place.”