NATIONAL NEWS

NYC officials clear another storefront illegally housing dozens of migrants in unsafe conditions

Feb 29, 2024, 6:09 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City officials have cleared out a Bronx storefront illegally converted to house dozens of tenants that was run by the same person who operated one hosting as many as 70 migrants in a Queens furniture store.

The city Department of Buildings responded Wednesday to reports of an illegal conversion at a two-story commercial building in the borough’s Fordham neighborhood, WNBC reports.

Agency inspectors found 45 beds packed closely together on the first floor and basement of the building, along with extension cords, e-bikes, space heaters, hotplates and other fire hazards in the makeshift living quarters, the station reports.

City officials ordered the building vacated due to the “hazardous, life-threatening conditions” which included severe overcrowding and a lack of natural light and ventilation. The building’s landlord was also issued two violations for failure to maintain the building and for occupying the building contrary to city records.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management, which operates NYC’s migrant shelter system, is assisting displaced tenants, including referring people to asylum seeker services, according to WNBC.

The news station reports the storefront is run by Ebou Sarr, who operated a similar housing operation in Queens that was shut down Tuesday.

City officials ordered Sarr’s Wholesale Furniture vacated after finding the building’s first-floor commercial space and cellar had been converted into sleeping quarters, with 14 bunk beds and 13 beds tightly packed on both floors and able to fit about 41 people.

The native of Senegal had told reporters Tuesday that he was housing mostly migrant men from his West African nation and charging them $300 a month because they couldn’t afford a place to live after timing out of the city’s emergency shelter system for migrants.

No one answered phone numbers associated Sarr on Thursday and the city buildings department and emergency management office didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

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