DOB Steps up Campaign Against Illegal Half-Floor Subdivisons in LES Tenements
The city is stepping it up with its campaign to warn Lower East Side residents about illegal conversions of living spaces.
The sudden push follows the high-profile Department of Buildings inspection of 165 Henry Street in August, which uncovered units split into illegal “half-floors.” Tenants were found residing in SRO spaces with four-and-a-half foot ceilings. Additionally, these units lacked “proper egress, windows, ventilation and fire safety systems,” save for some bubble wrap lining the ceilings to prevent head injuries.
Not only are these conditions hazardous to tenants, but also to first responders in an emergency situation. As a result, the DOB vacated the living spaces and issued violations to the condo owners for the illegal conditions.
“Illegal conversions pose life-threatening risks to both residents and our members who respond to fires in these buildings,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “Through this critical outreach, FDNY and the Department of Buildings are educating New Yorkers about the grave dangers these conversions create and how critical a working smoke alarm and safe, legal egress are to surviving a fire.”
DOB’s Community Engagement Unit and FDNY’s Fire Safety Education Unit plan to distribute flyers on how to spot illegal conversions, as well as fire safety palm cards, in multiple languages at major transportation hubs and public parks around the Lower East Side.
This week, theFDNY and DOB staff is canvassing the following Lower East Side areas:
· East Broadway Subway Station – F Line
· Delancey Street/Essex Street Subway Station – F/M/J/Z Lines
· New York Public Library Seward Park Branch
· Captain Jacob Joseph Playground