In an example of NYC landlords’ absurd neglect of their own properties, one block in Harlem has had to deal with scaffolding for a decade. The New York Times reports that the structures at Lenox Avenue and 123rd Street in Harlem provide unauthorized shelter for homeless people, “strapping young men” exercising, and alleged drugs deals.
While ten years is a lot longer than its average lifespan, there is an estimated 189 miles of scaffolding in New York. A city law from 1998 requires hands-on inspections of facades every five years for buildings taller than six stories, which has increased demands for scaffolding. In the last five years alone, their presence has climbed by 25%. Often, landlords put up the scaffolding and pay the fees, but don’t get around to the necessary procedures to remove them. In this building’s case, the scaffolding was briefly taken down in 2012, the repairs were deemed unsatisfactory by the city, and the scaffolding was built back up. At the time, the landlord’s architect told DNAinfo that repairs would be finished in five months. The repairs are still not complete.
Mayor Bill De Blasio has promised to remove unneeded scaffolding around buildings owned by the New York City Housing Authority, but as of yet hasn’t announced a plan for private buildings. (Image: 2009 Google StreetView)