Yonkers Mayor Spano’s “Operation Respect Your Tenants” Task Force Targets City’s Top Housing & Fire Code Scofflaws
YONKERS, NY – April 2, 2019 – Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano today announced that “Operation Respect Your Tenants,” which targets the city’s most egregious violators of housing and fire codes is proving successful. In an effort to crack down on negligent landlords and hold them more accountable, Mayor Spano recently assembled a city task force to monitor and take action against the city’s top scofflaws who have avoided warrants resulting from fire and housing code summonses. As a result, the monthly court appearance and progress rates of those summoned to court have increased nearly 30% year over year.
“I credit the good work of our ‘Operation Respect Your Tenants’ Task Force for the nearly 30% rise in court appearances,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “The City takes this issue very seriously and has been laser-focused on addressing scofflaws who think they can bypass the law. We will continue to find these individuals and hold them accountable for their abuse of the system and mistreatment of the tenants until justice is served. We owe that to the residents.”
In March 2018, 113 of the 165 individuals with summonses for violations of housing or fire codes appeared in Yonkers City Court, resulting in a 68% monthly appearance and progress rate. As of March 2019, 89 of the 102 individuals served with summons appeared in court, now measuring an 87% monthly appearance and progress rate.
Mayor Spano’s “Operation Respect Your Tenants “ Task Force includes members of the Mayor’s Office, Yonkers Police Department, Yonkers Fire Department, the Department of Housing and Buildings, Corporation Counsel’s Office and the Planning Department.
“Our duty is to ensure the homes in which our residents choose to live are safe,” said Yonkers Department of Housing and Building Commissioner, Vincent Pici. “Landlords are taking notice that city officials will not sit idly by while they put their tenants’ well-being in harm’s way. Together with other city departments, we will continue to enforce the city ordinances that safeguard our Yonkers residents.”
“We are pleased to see the recent increases in compliance with local ordinances and court appearances,” said YonkersPolice Commissioner Charles Gardner. “When landlords operate responsibly and meet their lawful obligations, it reduces enforcement contact with city officials and improves the quality of life for their tenants, our residents. I applaud our members and other city agencies for working together to address this issue.”
On January 18, 2019, Aurelio Assuncao was arrested for repeatedly ignoring bench warrants. Assuncao had more than 70 summonses for violations ranging from illegal apartments to failure to install smoke detectors. The violations related to five properties: 6, 8, 9 and 13 Riverview Place and 141 Beech Street.
On February 20, 2019, Ismael Vargas was arrested after avoiding a dozen warrants resulting from fire and housing code summonses issued by the Yonkers Fire Department and Department of Housing & Buildings. Vargas has a long history of non-compliance with warrants on his multiple properties that include 63-65 Jackson Street, 25 Radford Street, 102 McLean Avenue and 51 Lawrence Street. Violations at these properties have included no certificate of occupancy for single room conversion, illegal open wiring, unsanitary conditions and numerous other violations of the Fire and Buildings Codes.