These are questions that were received from the community at the Town Hall Meeting / Candidate Forum earlier this week, but due to time constraints, we were not able to ask them. We emailed each of the candidates a copy of the questions and will post their responses as soon as they become available.

Below are the responses by Liam McCabe.

Note: some questions and answers have been edited for clarity (formatting, spelling, etc.)

I would like the 5 cent deposit stopped. I do not want collectors trespassing on my property all hours of the day & night.  They go in our yard & rummage through everything.  The deposit should belong to the city when put by the curb. – Louis P.

Even if you end the deposit in New York State, since other states still have it the practice of collecting and taking them over state lines will continue. Other ways to help include reforming our trash pickup system so garbage isn’t on the street for as long a period of time. Ultimately, we need to give can collectors other opportunities, like the option to participate in my proposed Beautification Program that pays individuals to clean up and beautify our streets.


If new law that Mr. Brannon wrote w/Gentile, already needs to be fixed & improved, why isn’t he working on it now as a Gentile employee? Why must we wait until Nov. for him to add his suggestions & improvements?  Tell me why did Justine say he wouldn’t allow high rise building-he currently does, and hasn’t prevented them in zoning. – Kerri M.

Justin Brannon will have to answer for his own actions.  I do believe we need fresh faces in government, particularly people who have the conviction to stand up to the mayor.


Why can’t we pass some kind of legislation to enforce those selling one family homes to put in selling contract,  house needs to remain as one-family or subject to substantial penalty? – Carol D.

The issue at hand is not about the real estate contract but about zoning and the Department of Housing and Buildings.  Depending on how a home is zoned, it must be used as that zoning dictates.  We have zoning laws on the books.  The problem is the enforcement of those laws.  

This is an enforcement issue and I will be hands on in bringing the city, federal and state agencies together to ensure the enforcement that we need to address and resolve this problem at every level.


As a licensed contractor, when homes are gutted and/or renovated by licensed contractors,  according to NYC DOB & ECB regulations, they need to pass all inspections to NYC code, once people move into the property and when they “illegally” convert.  How do we prove it unless we knock on doors that aren’t answered? – Deanna H.

The issue here has to do with the process of reconstructing houses that create SROs in our neighborhoods that violate New York City housing and zoning laws.  The most effective thing we have done so far is to get stop work orders during the construction process.  That needs to continue.

In cases where people are living in illegal home conversions, we need vacate orders to be issued by the Fire Department because the conditions are too dangerous to allow people to live there.


The real estate industry through lobbying and political contributions have enjoyed access and power under the present administration.  At the same time, the market has choked buyers and led to a dearth of affordable housing and a rise in homelessness.  How can this tide of greed be turned around? – Michelle S.

We need to make sure that our politicians are held accountable for zoning decisions.  There are some cases where we can work with the real estate industry in ways to help the community, but we need to audit on a case by case basis, especially in cases of high rise developments that include a small number of “affordable housing” units that are subject to abuse as tax rebates for developers rather than real housing solutions for people who live in the neighborhood.


It seems that going after an individual or developer once the illegal conversion is underway is like closing the barn door after the horse has run out.  The way to stop these, is before the sale of the property.  Make real estates, banks & layers & sellers adhere to their duties as officers of the country & have them do their due diligence in sales & especially when a house sells for way less or more than market value. – Anthony T.

It is important to crack down on the money laundering and tax evasion aspect of this problem at every stage of the buy/sell/conversion process.


1) DOB should not be allowed to close out a case after 2 failed attempts because of lack of staffing-that (is) fudging the numbers. 2) Utility, gas, electric, water companies should recognize increased usage. 3) Garbage is being placed on corner receptacles rather than in front (of) their house. 4) Bulk pickup’s are few & far between.  Sometimes 1/1/2 weeks pass before they pick up. 5) Repeal the bottle law & stop trespassing. Law in effect long enough that people will continue to recycle if it’s stopped.

  1. It will be more efficient for the Department of Buildings to have more attorneys working on this to get warrants that give them access to illegal conversion sites.
  2. Utility usage should be a useful indicator in spotting illegal home conversions.
  3. This speaks to one of the many ways that illegal home conversions compromise the public health of the city and overburden our resources.  It also shows that once people break one law and get away with it, they will break more.
  4. We should get rid of the organic waste collection in its current form because of the reduced truck capacity that it creates.
  5. We are already a mandatory recycling area and the bottle law is out of date.  Trespassing is against the law and those laws should be enforced.


How will the city enforce the new law that Gentile crafted & De Blasio signed? Past laws have been flouted.  Can we expect you to be more active in addressing this issue? – Jeanine B.

There are a variety of things they should be doing including hiring new inspectors, reviewing meters, getting warrants.  There needs to be an overhaul of the enforcement.  This is one of the reasons I recommend an inter-agency task force to crack down on illegal home conversions and enforce all applicable laws, including those having to do with tax evasion.



I learned that a conversion was vacated due to a gas line issue.  This was not on the DOB site of info about the property.  How do we know we are safe? – Jennifer S.

We’re not safe.  We need to crack down on illegal conversions, and the Fire Department needs to be involved for precisely this reason.


Trying to sell my mom’s house for almost a year.  Can’t attract Non-Illegal Conversions buyers on 74th and 11 Avenue.  What do I do?  Our neighborhood is no longer desirable. – Carol D.

We have a great neighborhood and I want to keep it stable and vibrant for the future.


I have an SRO next door.  They have even rented the garage (shared driveway)  to a construction person.  There are bars on the windows & stairway in back is completely blocked–used for storage.Why is nothing done?  In the event of a fire innocent fire fighters can get hurt. – Terry H.

Bringing this to the attention of Brooklyn Housing Preservation Authority is a great start.  In cases like this, we also need to report to the Fire Marshal immediately. This is another instance of the ways in which illegal home conversions create public safety issues and threats to our first responders.


The illegal conversions are causing, overcrowding in our schools, too much garbage, lack of parking spaces, and a health hazard- are these people received all immunization shots? –  C.B. M.

You are bringing up many issues that arise from illegal home conversions that overtax our city resources. This is part of why illegal home conversions are a key issue for me.  I am here to work on preserving our community and keeping it safe and healthy by stopping illegal home conversions.


4 houses on my block. 4 sets of complaints, SRO, 7 kitchen vents in a 3 family, mattresses picked up and delivered at night. People coming and going in middle of night. DOB tries 3 times to enter buildings denied. All 4 complaints are marked closed. – Mildred L.

I would like to change the system so that we can have more immediate enforcement and get warrants issued in appropriate cases.

This is an all too common problem that we are dealing with.  Once I am elected, resolving it is a top priority.

I would like to work on an inter-agency task force so the Department of Buildings can refer to the FDNY and other organizations and so that we can have a multi-agency approach to stopping illegal home conversions.  There are multiple sources of illegal activity involved in the construction and use of an illegally converted home, and we need enforcement on every level.


Isn’t Con Edison breaking the law by installing electrical meters in Illegal Home Conversion? – Cathy S.

They are not breaking the law but ConEd should be disclosing the number of electric meters to the Department of Buildings.  There should be easy access to data that community groups and other agencies can use to proactively track down illegal home conversions by monitoring signs like the number of meters on a house.


The house I’m attached to has at least 20 people & many kids living in a 3 family house.  They are in the illegal basement.  They are making our property taxes go sky high.  They are constantly throwing away mattresses filled with bed bugs. – Vivian P.

We are having a problem with bulk pickup because of an organics collection system that needs to be overhauled.  If you have evidence of these conditions we need to make sure the FDNY knows about it immediately.


1) We must have a special task force in Bensonhurst to target people carrying huge bags of cans which they stole out of private recycle bins. 2) We must also put an end to these dangerous delivery rider who operate with total disregard for safety and the rules of the road. 3) They drive on sidewalks, they drive at dangerously excessive speeds.  They drive the wrong way down one way streets. The list goes on and on… – Angelo A.

I have outlined my solutions to the can collecting problem and I am committed to implementing them, they range from enforcement to alternative income sources for can collectors. 2. and 3 – One issue has to do with illegal electric bikes, another has to do with making sure that restaurant owners comply with rules. City Council seems to be very pro-bicycle but if we are expanding the role of bikes in our communities, we need to expand enforcement of bike laws to go along with it.


Recently the City has increased the number of vacate orders in our community, when a full or partial vacate order is issued by the DOB. What will you do with the people that are forced out of the buildings? Who should pay for the relocation of the tenants? The city’s tax payer? The landlord? The tenant? Some private entity? -BHPA

Revenue from the fines should be used in a fund to help relocate victims of illegal home conversion.  People should be able to find better types of housing, they not to be routed into the already overburdened homeless shelter system. Enforce all trespassing laws currently on the books.


Based upon first hand observations, as well as anecdotal evidence from neighbors, there appears to be a correlation between the increase in the number of can/meta/recyclables collectors and the increase in the number of illegal home conversions in our neighborhood. How would you stop people from not only rummaging through people’s trash but also trespassing onto private property to steal cans, scrap metal, etc? – BHPA

There is a greater number of low income people in neighborhood, in part because of the construction of illegal SROs, some issues that come with this are an influx of can collecting.  We need to address these issues by helping people and by offering alternatives, as well as by enforcing trespassing and other existing laws.