First in a series of articles focusing on illegal housing in West Hempstead and the Town of Hempstead.
If there’s an illegal apartment on your West Hempstead block and you don’t want to go on record as the complainant, the West Hempstead Community Support Association wants to be your voice. It will even remove your name permanently from the complaint and attach its name to it.
“When someone reports something to me, we will not use their name,” said Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Community Support Association. “We won’t even say it was reported by a resident. We always make the complaint to the Town of Hempstead under the auspices of the Community Support Association.”
Norton is battling what she has called a “pandemic” of illegal rentals throughout West Hempstead as well as the unincorporated areas of the Town of Hempstead. “Is illegal housing more prevalent in West Hempstead than other places? I don’t think so, because if you go down blocks in Garden City South, it’s easy to see that they have the bigger issue,” she said. “The big tipoff is when you go down the street and you see cars bumper to bumper. But we certainly have it more than other areas.”
The Town of Hempstead will not accept anonymous complaints, but Norton wants to make it easy for people to report illegal housing, and is utilizing the WHCSA to do so. She asks only that people provide their names — just to ensure that the center isn’t being given false leads. “That name and that phone number will never be given to anyone,” she said.
Norton, who has been with the WHCSA for 10 of its 15 years of existence, said that the service has been mentioned at every one of its meetings. “People can come to our meetings and express their complaint,” she said. “They can do it through email, voice mail, or contacting me directly. And it doesn’t only have to be illegal housing. It could be in regard to loitering or graffiti.”
Residents can reach the center at (516) 733-0879 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone numbers should be stated clearly and repeated, Norton said.