An early morning code enforcement raid on a home in East Hampton that housed 32 people resulted in the discovery of multiple violations that could total tens of thousands of dollars in fines, officials said.
“Overcrowded housing such as this not only places residents in dangerous conditions but poses a risk to public safety and the environment when septic systems are overtaxed, and diminishes the quality of life for others in neighborhoods designed for single-family residences,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said in a news release. “The Town will continue to actively enforce our codes to insure [sic] the safety of all our residents.”
Officials said the one-story, single-family home at 38 Railroad Ave. is owned by Evan Davis, of Jamaica, Queens, and that 18 people were sleeping on mattresses in the basement near a generator. Officials said not all the code violations, which include the overcrowding, have been issued.
The tenants were not local residents, according to the news release, but seasonal workers staying on the South Fork to work. They told investigators they pay between $100 and $150 per week in cash to live there. It is not clear what will happen to the tenants.
Overcrowded single-family homes have long been a problem on the South Fork, where exorbitant real estate prices make it difficult for the workforce to find affordable housing.
Tina Piette , the East Hampton attorney representing the property’s owner, said she couldn’t comment on the charges, as the specific violations have yet to be issued. She did say she was disappointed in how the town handled the issue.
“The people that were in the house are all here legally and working — five, six, seven days a week,” Piette said. “I see the real issue here is that there is a need for dormitory or workforce housing for seasonal employees.”
The most concerning matter, according to investigators, was the gas generator and gasoline stored in the basement, where most of the home's occupants slept. Three of the home's four bedrooms were also overcrowded, said town building inspector David Betts.
“It was certainly the most significant [investigation] result that I’ve been in involved in, and I’ve been here since 2014,” Betts said. “It was a pretty egregious situation.”
The house manager who lives at the address, Braham Elorda, 32, was issued a ticket to appear in East Hampton Town Justice Court. Davis, the property owner, will also likely be issued an appearance ticket, officials said.
The search was carried out by town police in conjunction with the ordinance enforcement department, building inspectors and fire marshals. The investigation is continuing.