New Hempstead leadership vows to clean house

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The new Hempstead Housing Authority has said it is committed to addressing safety concerns and cleanliness in its four public housing complexes, which it says the previous administration neglected for years.

At a meeting at the Nassau County Legislature on Thursday, new executive director Rosemary Olsen said the administration plans to take another look at tenants living in the 281 units to determine the validity of their tenancy.

"We're taking the step of kicking out tenants who are breaking the law," said Olsen, whom the seven-member board appointed in July at a salary of $95,000. "We have to secure the buildings. Get rid of the bedbugs and people who shouldn't live here."

The administration has also hired a new exterminating company to address bedbug and roach infestation in the buildings, Olsen said.

"There is years of neglect. That's how the bedbug problem increased and it's out of control now," said chairwoman Andrena Wyatt, after hearing complaints from residents about conditions. "There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but we have made multiple changes in the short period of time."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designated the authority as "troubled" in 2011 and has been monitoring its management. Investigators from HUD's Office of the Inspector General visited the authority in April, seeking financial records, housing officials have said.

The Hempstead agency fired its executive director Stacey Stackhouse in April.

In June, three newly appointed board members, Wyatt, Marcia Turner and Max Rodriguez, along with Village Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. forced out the authority's chairman, Gilford Finch.

Hall -- who appoints five of the seven board members -- later picked local real estate lawyer Carlos Beltran to fill out the board. Finch declined to comment Friday.

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"We didn't have a bedbug issue when I was there," Cornell Bozier, who had served as chairman on the board before Finch from 2009 until he resigned in April, said Friday.

The authority's new leadership has proposed a more than $100,000 capital improvement plan for 2013 that calls new entrance doors, more video cameras, plumbing and drainage improvements and two generators. Residents have complained about the disappearance of a generator that left them in the dark and without hot water after superstorm Sandy.

"Winter is coming, and this generator better be here," said Caprice Rines, of Hempstead Village, who is caretaker of a cousin who lives in an apartment overseen by the authority.

The board has scheduled a public hearing on the capital improvement plan on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. in the community room at the General MacArthur Senior Complex, at 260 Clinton St.

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