Tenants Complain In Building Owned By Council Speaker Hopeful Inez Dickens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York City councilwoman from Harlem has been under fire for her personal business dealings, and some residents want to see her held responsible.

As CBS 2 investigative reporter Tamara Leitner reported Monday, the complaints have been coming from residents of a building owned by Councilwoman Inez Dickens (D-9th.)

In one Harlem apartment building, residents have been complaining about an assortment of problems, including holes in the wall, a missing peephole, and a stair railing held together with duct tape.

“My bathroom ceiling was all messed up,” said resident Ai Oikoshi. “I called my super to fix it and it took three months.”

And she was not the only tenant complaining. Adam Hamzah said he had no heat for several months during the winter, and the front door did not lock.

“They didn’t fix it, so I had to let someone from the street fix it,” he said.

CBS 2 searched public records, and found Dickens is the owner of the building. In fact, she and her sister own a number of buildings and have been cited for nearly 200 infractions, records showed.

The building at 187 Lenox Ave. is one of four buildings Councilwoman Dickens owns. She has racked up more than $90,000 in fines on that building alone.

Public records showed Dickens, who hopes to be the next City Council speaker, has nearly $200,000 in unpaid building fines.

“It’s politically problematic. It’s ethically problematic,” said David Birdsell, dean of the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College.

Birdsell said the situation is complicated, given that Dickens is also the head of the council’s ethics committee.

“It’s an irony to be in charge of policing council ethics and yet not be behaving in a business sense yourself,” he said.

CBS 2 went to the councilwoman’s Harlem and downtown offices to get answers, but Dickens declined to comment.

The violations on the councilwoman’s properties go back at least 10 years.

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