Neighbors at a Harlem apartment building say overdoses in the halls put them in danger

In New York, landlords often find themselves in difficult situations when faced with drug-related issues in their buildings. They may come across instances of overdoses in the hallways and drug paraphernalia scattered throughout the premises. Despite their efforts to address these concerns, complaints lodged over a span of two years often yield no results. Due to this frustrating predicament, landlords are left with no choice but to seek legal recourse.

In a Harlem apartment building, the resolution hasn’t come swiftly. Investigative reporter Tim McNicholas from CBS New York delved into the situation and discovered that these delays have only increased the risk for the tenants.

Jason Watson takes great pride in showcasing his cherished photographs, capturing the moments that fill his heart with joy as he nurtures his family. However, there are certain images that he prefers not to exhibit, particularly those depicting individuals who have passed out in the lobby of his residence at Bethel Manor Apartments on West 132nd Street. Watson finds it challenging to maintain a positive and uplifting atmosphere when confronted with such distressing scenes in the hallways.

Residents, including Watson, have reported a distressing trend occurring in their neighborhood for over two years. They have witnessed individuals experiencing overdoses after frequenting an apartment on the second floor. The gravity of the situation is further emphasized by the fact that the NYPD has received a staggering 241 emergency calls from the same building within the past two years.

“I feel compelled to speak up because I’ll be absolutely devastated if anything were to happen to my children or anyone else in this building,” expressed Watson passionately.

Tenants have reported instances where they stumble upon unconscious individuals with hospital bands still attached to their wrists. In the stairwell, neighbors discover syringes and small capsules that, according to a law enforcement source interviewed by CBS New York, resemble what the DEA classifies as “trash cans.” These containers are commonly employed to store fentanyl and other hazardous substances.

According to Watson, there have been instances where she accidentally brought in dirt or debris into her house by pushing her stroller over them. This became a concern for her as she didn’t want her baby crawling on a dirty floor or her daughter sitting on it.

According to a recent report from the city’s Health Department, Central Harlem, along with the South Bronx and East Harlem, still faces the highest rates of fatal overdoses.

“It’s absolutely terrible,” expressed Emily Gertz with a sense of deep concern.

Gertz collaborates closely with Harlem United, an organization dedicated to the prevention of overdoses.

According to Gertz, poverty, discrimination, and long-term disinvestment in the community have created significant challenges for people to thrive. The pandemic has further exacerbated these difficulties, making it even more challenging for individuals to overcome these barriers and succeed.

The rise in overdose deaths is not limited to a specific area; it is affecting the entire city. Recognizing this issue, Brooklyn City Council member Chi Osse took the initiative to introduce a law. This law mandates that the health department provides free naloxone and training to bars and clubs. However, it is essential to note that, according to the city’s health department, a significant number of fatal overdoses, about 60 percent, occur within private homes.

CBS New York’s Tim McNicholas posed the question of whether there should be a greater focus on ensuring that Narcan is readily available in apartment buildings and condo buildings.

“We are actively working on legislation to expand the availability of Narcan and ensure its effectiveness in various settings. Our goal is to make it easily accessible in places like delis, schools, apartment buildings, and other locations,” Osse emphasized.

Neighbors are hopeful that the tenant will be forced out by the property management company, Concord Management of New York, while Osse continues to work on expanding naloxone distribution.

One individual expressed frustration with the management’s response, stating, “Every time we contact them, they always say the same thing: ‘We’re working on it.'”

According to court records, the owner of the property, Bethel Manor LLC, has been attempting to have the neighbor evicted since May 2021. The company explains that the delays in court proceedings are a result of a backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.

We are actively working with relevant parties to address the issue, ensuring a safe living environment at Bethel Manor and protecting our residents. The eviction process for the resident in question has been delayed due to the COVID-era eviction moratorium and the resulting backlog of cases in court. We have followed all necessary steps for eviction and are currently awaiting final approval from the court system. Our hope is that the eviction will be completed soon, benefiting the residents of Bethel Manor. While eviction is always a last resort, our primary concern is the safety and well-being of all other residents in the building.

The company claims that they are currently awaiting final approval from the court system, despite a judge ruling in favor of the owner approximately two months ago.

Jennifer Perez of Bethel Manor LLC emphasized that removing the resident ultimately benefits the tenants by ensuring a safe environment for them to come home to.

Watson discovers that the capsules are located just outside his back door on the balcony that he shares with his apartment. This discovery further reinforces his need to closely monitor his daughter.

According to Watson, children have a tendency to pick up things and put them in their mouths without knowing what those things are.

It serves as yet another illustration of an epidemic that recognizes no borders.

On Monday afternoon, we contacted the state’s court system to inquire about the progress of the eviction warrant. According to them, the city marshal has not yet completed all the required steps.

According to Al Baker, the communications director of the state Office of Court Administration, it is a mandatory practice for the Marshal to request a warrant in eviction cases. However, the public record for this particular case does not show any such request as of this afternoon.

However, records indicate that shortly after making this statement and a few days after the CBS New York Investigative Team began their inquiries, the court received fresh documentation from a city marshal to expedite the proceedings.

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