Renter faces homelessness after code violation crackdown in Middletown
A law aimed at curbing code violations and police calls by downsizing multi-family buildings in an Orange County city is now creating some unintended problems for renters who say they’re facing homelessness because of it.
Cathy Perrone, of Middletown, lives in a multi-family building on Claremont Court and is scrambling to find a new place after her landlord notified her that the unit she’s lived in for five years no longer legally exists.
“I have to be out by May 1,” says Perrone. “Right after a pandemic they’re going to tell us to get out? How is that even possible?”
The changes fall under the city of Middletown’s amortization law that’s now in full effect. The law downsizes multi-family units in residential areas by at least one apartment per building citywide.
Mayor Joe Destefano says the law passed in 2008 and that landlords have been repeatedly advised to notify tenants of the deadline to make changes.
“It’s a different time then when these houses were converted in the 60s and 50s to multi-unit housing,” says Destefano. “You have houses now – a 3 or 4 family home on a 50-foot lot – that just doesn’t cut it anymore.”
The law impacts 150 multi-family homes in Middletown.
Officials say they hope it’ll help reduce code enforcement problems and police complaints but some residents, like Perrone, say the changes are ill-timed during a housing crisis and skyrocketing rental costs.
“It’s $2,000 for a one bedroom or a two bedroom,” says Perrone. “It’s one month’s rent, one-month security and a month realtor’s fee. That’s ridiculous. Six-thousand dollars to move.”
That’s a big jump from the $850 a month Perrone says she pays now.
Destefano says anyone having trouble can call his office for help at 845-346-4100 or email him directly at email@example.com.