On April 23, 2011, three people including a child, died in a fire in this building whose recent history highlights the dangerous impacts of the problems plaguing the rental housing market in recent years.

Since the publication of Debt Threat in August 2009, and our symposium One Size Fits Some in September 2009, CHPC has raised concerns and offered recommendations to address the problems of multifamily rental housing that has become dangerously over-leveraged, as well as the desperate need to reframe our regulations to end illegal occupancy and bring new housing choices into the marketplace for households that are sharing accommodations and for single adults.

The complexity of implementing these strategies along with the desperate need to do so can be evidenced by one building’s story, 2321 Prospect Avenue.

Various news stories have given us reasons why they died: landlord greed, illegal residential use, lack of access for city departments to inspect, drug dealing, and finally abandonment by the owner. All have played some role but they omit the underlying reasons that placed vulnerable people in unsafe conditions that remained unabated.

A CHPC “Inside Edge” publication takes a detailed look at the housing policy circumstances around a deadly fire at 2321 Prospect Avenue, a three-family house, in the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx.

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By Harold Shultz

CHPCs work on Debt Threat was funded by a grant from New York LISC. Since then our continuing work on this issue has been supported by a generous grant from the Charles H. Revson Foundation.