Rochester, N.Y. - The East Main Street
house has a fresh paint job that belies the condition of the six rental units inside.
“This place is falling apart little by little,” says Miguel Sayan as he invites us inside.
He lives upstairs but takes us into the apartment where is daughter and baby granddaughter live.
He points out a leaking ceiling in the bedroom, windows held into place with packing tape and cardboard, mold covered walls and a toilet that has no real flooring beneath it to anchor to.
“The landlord is a slum lord! He doesn’t want to fix anything,” he says. “All he wants is money, money, money.”
Nelinda and her baby girl Valerie have lived here for eight years and say the decline started when the building was sold a few years back. They no longer want to stay, but can’t afford to leave.
Now they will have to. They are being evicted. They must be out in less than 30 days.
“I thought wow – what am I going to do? Because I don’t have any money to move,” says Nelinda.
It turns out there are 30 code violations on the property with 20 directly related to health and safety issues. The code violations were discovered when the landlord applied for a certificate of occupancy renewal in 2009.
The City of Rochester is working with the landlord, Sky Apartments, but the code deficiency database is also linked to Monroe County’s.
In a December 11th letter, the Department of Social Service informed the landlord the violations had to be fixed in order for him to receive DSS rent subsidies for tenants.
Miguel Sayan says the landlord’s reaction was a backlash – boot out his daughter.
“We need help from somebody,” he says. “I can sleep in my car on the street and have done that but not my daughter and granddaughter,” he says fighting back tears.
Miguel has tried to intervene but can’t even find out the identity of his landlord. The eviction notice lists Sky Apartments on Fitzhugh Street. That is another apartment building.
13WHAM News eventually tracked down the apartment manager at his private home. He was surprised to see us, and wanted to know how we found him.
“I’m not sure I want to talk to you until I talk to a lawyer,” he said.
He later responded to the cell phone number provided and left a short voicemail with no information and no contact for a follow up.
This crack down on landlords is causing a backlash of evictions that is impacting vulnerable families- the very families it is designed to protect.
Contacted by 13WHAM News a Monroe County spokesman said Nelinda Reyes should have received a letter with contacts for emergency housing. They arranged to provide her with interim housing while she looks for that permanent new start.
“I think about my daughter and really want to move in to a better place,” says Reyes.