'Dog Cage' Tenement in New York City Is Full of Vermin, Mold

Wednesday, 25 Sep 2013 11:01 AM

By Michael Mullins

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It's described as a "dog cage" tenement for humans, a dilapidated building with rooms made of chicken wire in earshot of the exclusive SoHo neighborhood that reveals a disturbing look at how some survive below the poverty line in New York City.

In operation since the late 19th century, the single-room occupancy Sun Bright Hotel rents out rooms 7 feet by 5 feet to tenants for $10 per night, the New York Post reported.

The rooms, which are smaller than solitary-confinement cells in a state prison, the Post reported, are separated from one another by chicken wire, and are infested by roaches, bed bugs, and countless other creepy critters that thrive in filth.

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No women are allowed to rent in the male-only tenement, which features one floor entirely comprised of Chinese-born laborers, and another where a diverse group of have-nots live out their days, many of them unemployed blue-collar workers whose disabilities limit their options in life.

As described by New York Post reporter Candice Giove: "Roaches, bedbugs, fleas and other vermin infest the building," while "hot hallways reek of rotting trash, sweat and urine."

"It was horrible — like an animal shelter," one first responder called recently to the Sun Bright Hotel told The Post. "I picked up a suit on the wall and roaches fell out," the rescuer added, "hundreds of them."

One of those men who call the decrepit tenement home is John Arkue, a disabled construction worker who has resided on the hotel's third floor for 15 years.

"They keep all the garbage all on this floor," Arkue told the Post. "Sometimes the garbage sits here. ... We got roaches, we got flies, you know?"

According to the Post, more than 100 men on the floor share one bathroom outfitted with two shower stalls, four toilets, and one urinal. In two of the shower stalls, a black layer of mold nearly covers the entire wall.

"I called the inspector a couple of times to come and check it," Arkue claimed. "They don’t do nothing."

Since 1988, the Sun Bright Hotel has received 46 summonses from the city's Department of Buildings as well as an additional 22 open violations issued in 2011 alone, the Post reported. The hotel, however, remains open.

"I pay $310 [a month] — just for a little home, just for a little bed," 74-year-old David Rodriguez, a retired cab driver told the Post. Rodriguez has been living at the Sun Bright Hotel for 16 years.

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In June, the building, located at 150 Hester Street, was sold to Bowery 88 LLC for $14.8 million.

Calls to the new property owner by the Post were not returned.

Related stories:


Four in Five Americans Face Near-poverty, No Work Under Obama

Poverty in New Jersey Hits 52-Year High Under Christie

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