More than 200 residents gathered across the street from the Rochdale Village apartment complex on Tuesday night in an effort to rally their neighbors — and state officials — to make changes in governance and management.
Residents met in Holy Unity Baptist Church, saying the complex’s board of directors would not grant state Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park) permission to have it on the grounds.
Residents during the evening complained of vermin, what many called an unresponsive and abusive board of directors, bad maintenance and worse financial management.
“I used to be a member of the board,” said resident Rodney Reid. “I was kicked off — by board members, not voted out by the residents — when I asked for a forensic audit of the finances.”
Reid and Earl Roberts, the first two residents to speak, said maintenance requests are allowed to pile up, including those for things like loose bricks.
“You get threatening letters,” Roberts said.
The evening was slated to include a visit from Darryl Towns, commissioner of the state’s Department of Homes and Community Renewal.
Sanders took the blame for the appearance being canceled, saying he did not reach out to the Rochdale Village Board in as timely a manner as he should have.
“In my zeal to help,” he said.
Calls from the Chronicle to DHCR and the Rochdale Village Board of Directors were not returned.
And while a handful of residents were disappointed that a representative from DHCR was not present, most who spoke believe that state assistance will be necessary to monitor what they termed an entrenched board when it holds elections this October.
Keima Fludd said she drove for hours from Maryland to attend on behalf of her aunt. One of her concerns was when there was a dispute over her aunt’s lease.
“They wouldn’t show her a copy,” Fludd said. “... Who is policing these people?”
One resident showed a picture she shot of a mouse trapped between her window and screen. Several said mice and bedbugs have overtaken sections of the complex.
A handful of residents said the board has refinanced its mortgage three times in recent years, one time for more than $100 million.
Several also questioned the integrity of the board elections. Jean Hall said she would like a state agency to monitor October’s vote.
“They can if we keep the pressure on them,” she said.
“The state has the authority over contracts, maintenance and finances,” Roberts said, then added that DHCR seldom exercises such authority.
Resident Stacey Francis was not privy to Roberts’ comment when she spoke to the crowd calling on DHCR to step in.
“But if they won’t, maybe Eric Schneiderman will,” she said, making a subtle-as-a-sledgehammer reference to New York State’s attorney general.