By Patrick Donachie
The scourge of three-quarter houses used for New Yorkers recovering from substance abuse or returning to society from jail must be addressed, City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Arverne) said this week.
He was one of several council members sponsoring legislation to regulate the locations passed by the City Council Feb. 1.
“Preying on our most vulnerable New Yorkers for a check is not the way to do business,” Richards said.
Three-quarter houses are one- or two-family homes, or larger apartment buildings that rent beds to single adults, purporting to offer rehabilitation programs to the residents, but they do not provide in-house services and are not officially regulated by any government agency.
The buildings are often in dismal condition, according to Richards, who said the largest contingent of homes were located in central Brooklyn. Tanya Kessler, an attorney with MFY Legal Services who has worked on three-quarter housing issues for the organization, said there were also such houses in Jamaica and Far Rockaway.
“It is very hard to ascertain exactly how many there are. We continue to get many calls from people in three-quarter housing, and it continues to thrive,” she said, saying landlords taking advantage of tenants “are looking for people who are vulnerable and in a difficult position and in a desperate need for housing. They recruit from substance abuse programs and in prisons and jails.”
MFY Legal Services helped to form the Three-Quarter House Tenant Organizing Project to advocate for the rights of three-quarter tenants and also contribute to the first in-depth policy paper on three-quarter housing, issued by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2013.
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