Yanet Raygoza and other tenants protest outside the Bronx Supreme Court, demanding repairs to their Melrose building. By Carla G. Colomé.

Residents of a Melrose building that went on the auction block last week are hoping for new owners who will invest in repairs and renovations to make apartments liveable again. 

Members of Bronx Tenants United, who live at 333 East 150th St., rallied outside Bronx Supreme Court on April 1 while their building was offered to the highest bidder. 

The tenants lived without gas service at the building for over 10 years, and were only able to resolve the problem recently, they said. The property currently has over 460 code violations with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and more than a dozen complaints with the Department of Buildings. 

“If from the beginning they see that they are going to buy a building with so many problems, it means that they are going to take responsibility, because we are already showing that the building needs a lot of repairs,” said Yanet Raygoza, 50, who has lived in the building for more than 20 years. 

Even as the tenants rallied outside the courthouse, possible buyers at the auction inside decided to pass on the 35-apartment building, according to tenant association leader Hilda Becerra. 

“None of the investors who were here  wanted to buy it,” she told the group after the auction closed. 

The building has a troubled ownership history, starting with landlords decades ago that failed to invest in the proper upkeep, according to the tenants at the rally. 

Things got worse in 2020, when tenants learned the then-landlord had defaulted on a loan and eventually filed a foreclosure action. In 2022, the Bronx courts appointed a neutral receiver to manage the property and collect rents during the foreclosure process. 

Under the court-appointed receivership, the tenants were able to resolve some issues, they said, including the resolution of the building’s lack of gas service. 

“For the last few years we didn’t have gas. In my case I spent a lot of money buying gas, I spent about $80 a month for ten years,” said Catalina Carrera, 51, who has lived in the building for 26 years. 

But many issues remain, most of them tied to the systemic neglect of upkeep and repairs, the tenants said. 

Raygoza, who raised two children in the building, said mice and other rodents and vermin have been a constant problem. Attempts to get necessary fixes in worn-out apartments went nowhere, she said. 

“Of the tenants who were already there, none of us had repairs done,” said Raygoza. “The building was deteriorating more and more and they only attended to emergencies.”

More recently, tenants have been able to fix some windows and repair a faulty front door. But dilapidated stairwells, walls and floors remain, they said. 

“The building is still in bad condition,” said Adriana Florencio, 42, who has lived in the building for 10 years. “We don’t have cleaning, the sinks need to be fixed. We have communicated this situation and they usually don’t pay attention to us.”

Not all the tenant concerns are cosmetic. Residents said they worry they’ll be left homeless if the building suffers serious structural damage, or if there is a fire. 

More than 100 people were left homeless in December when a building in Morris Heights collapsed. The building had several DOB violations at the time. 

“What we want to let whoever buys the building know is that the tenants would like to talk to them, to be able to negotiate and come to an understanding before they start eviction cases,” said Yani Guzman, a tenant association organizer. 

“We’re here to let them know that the association is willing to collaborate, to talk, to be able to agree,” she said. 

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