Arverne, Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York
A group of more than a dozen Arverne by the Sea homeowners are under investigation for illegally renting out their homes while collecting approximately $1 million in tax exemptions, the Department of Investigation said this week.
A Department of Investigation report, issued Feb. 8, includes 11 recommendations to expand city oversight and prevent violations following the investigation into a 2018 complaint.
The DOI found that there were 15 homeowners in violation of the primary residence requirement; eight used the properties as rentals or investment properties — one as a hotel that was registered with the city to collect occupancy tax — and four who each owned one property and used them as rentals instead of living there.
There were 11 homeowners with multiple Arverne by the Sea deeds.
According to the DOI, they “were in violation of primary residence requirements by illegally renting their properties while being unjustly enriched by tax exemptions meant for owner-occupied homes.”
The apartments were designated in the early 2000’s as an Housing Preservation and Development Urban Development Action Area Project with a 20-year property tax exemption to homeowners requiring they maintain the homes as their primary residences.
You wouldn’t think if you looked at them on first impression, but these beautiful beach front houses are actually government sanctioned public housing…
These Arverne homes are actually impeccably designed, a bulk of them even have patios on the top floors which resemble something like penthouse condos like on Miami and Venice Beaches with gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean and somewhat pleasant views of Jamaica Bay and the poorer parts of Rockaway Beach, where there at least three public housing projects in the same neighborhood.
You don’t have to be much of a detective to figure out why these 15 motherfuckers ook advantage of a government housing program and made millions off it while getting tax breaks and write-offs for nearly a decade. It doesn’t take much sleuthing to figure out why these homes were easily poached for illegal renting and airbnb lodging and why some nefarious scumbags would conspire tto take advantage of this government housing program and try to make massive profits from it.All it took was a casual bike ride around this sunny oasis of pirated housing equity, it’s gets real plain to see why some nefarious scumbags would try to take advantage of this government housing program and try to make massive profits from it. Bookending this HUD financed utopian village are two massive vacant lots, one of which is still a landfill.
And they are slathered with massive ads promoting luxury lifestyle and real estate offers…..for one luxury apartment building. Which is very odd.
This building “The Tides” is the only actual luxury building which for all intents and purposes and ironically doesn’t even stand out. It actually looks more like a government funded building than the HUD houses by the boardwalk, kinda like a Mitchell Lama building. But it’s definitely lux, even the hip cafe, fancy eatery and wine shop are right there in the building too as advertised.
And it’s not just “The Tides” lux building that’s rich around here, the whole vicinity looks like nothing else on Queens only peninsula (well, besides Rikers Island) Just across the street is a row of other high end eateries and big bank branches and hovering right over them and Beach Channel Drive is a massive sign of the name of this area “Arverne By The Sea” as if to mimic the legendary Hollywood sign on the hills over Los Angeles.
The thing about the HUD houses is that even though they are nice, they were built too nice. Which belies the motive to seize all these homes for these greedy predators to grossly monetize from. Plus it wasn’t hard to accomplish, because ever since the peninsula and the boardwalk were renovated and revitalized after Hurricane Sandy, Rockaway Beach has surprisingly become a worldwide tourist attraction and an bigger attraction for high end real estate development and a hotspot for Airbnb opportunists like the guilty parties not named on this motley list of LLC homeowners.
A lot of this has interest has been established in Arverne, which also had the benefit of getting the most shore infrastructure improvements which includes a surfer culture scene that has grown immensely in the last half decade that has attracted visitors from all over the world (despite the pathetic waves in this area that usually leave these wave riding novices and posers waddling on the Atlantic like ducks in a lake for hours).
Which brings us back to the surfer demographic, because it was quite strategic for this surf shop Breakwater Surf Co. (company?) to set up their surfboard rental right under the giant advert sign for the luxury Tides condo building. Coincidentally, the shop Breakwater Surf’s founder started his company in the wave capital and summer hot spot in the nation in Rhode Island(!!)and was courted by the developer mentioned in the DOI’s report Benjamin Beechwood to set up shop at Arverne to bring a surf scene to new neighborhood. It arouses a bit of suspicion that there’s some sort of vertical integration with the marketing for not only the Tides (which advertises three businesses that take up space on the landfill walls) but with the illegal rentals as well.
And all this nefarious malfeasance by this consortium of affordable housing snatchers and the creeping gentrification and overdevelopment on the beach would not be possible without the complicity of the criminal negligence and insouciance of the feckless officials of the Housing, Development and Preservation Department under the crooked mayor and his deputy mayor co-conspirators, which for all intents and purposes according to the DOI study deliberately didn’t set up a regulatory system to monitor the criminal conspiracy at the Arverne By The Sea complex for almost an entire decade.
But one thing that’s common knowledge especially after de Blasio’s HPD’s notorious affordable housing program, is that the city’s housing policies are always geared and prioritized for the nomadic rich and mostly for the rich that doesn’t exist in NYC. And despite the charges and calls for reform of the HPD (instead of firing everyone and subpoenaing every involved in this housing scandal including de Blasio and deputy mayor’s and HPD commissioners Alicia Glen and Vicki Been) the damage from nearly a decade of ripping off HUD tax dollars has paid dividends for the real estate developers as standard luxury tower and luxury public tower development progressed even further during the Arverne illegal rental heists (despite the ominous land erosion on Rockaway’s shores). Even the community civics are getting more alarmed by the tower pestilence infecting the landscape of the mostly middle class streets of Rockaway Beach And Rockaway Park.
Although HPD’s apparent deliberate negligence enabling millions of tax payer dollars get pissed away for profits leading to the rise of real estate values by weaponizing a federal housing program for profits is even more capricious considering that this was happening literally in the district’s Congress member in the U.S. Capitol Rep. Gregory Meeks, whose office is right in the heart and under the vast sign of Arverne by the Sea. It’s a wonder how Meeks could not have seen this scandal happening right under his nose until you think about his own personal troubles with real estate investments with an indicted developer donor and the fact that he was living as a squatter in a luxury home not long ago.
It doesn’t say in the DOI report if any of these profiteering plunderers of government housing will ever face charges. It’s not even known if anyone from HPD got a piece of the action got rich with them for keeping quiet as the tax free cash rolled in and piled up for these makeshift realtors and landlords (Hell the HPD even gave them fucking money themselves!). It’s also quite surprising that The Tides developers and realtor is not tied to this scheme giving the convenient proximity of their location. Because real estate is all about location location location.
Mostly it was the speculation/fabrication of the real estate market that inspired these criminal actions. During the time these urban housing poachers were making their millions and dodging property taxes, more lux development immediately followed in nearby areas like the Playland and Rockaway Park districts and Edgemere, along with a big boost by former Mayor’s Bill de Blasio’s mandatory inclusionary housing ruse that enables developers to build higher and denser with the flimsy provision to include incremental housing for lower income residents while also hoarding more cash from the city and state’s philanthropic 421a tax break. And just like in Brooklyn by the bridges where the majority of the city’s most luxurious public housing towers have been erected, this consortium of opportunist government welfare realtors in Arverne easily took advantage of frivolous spending transient suckers looking to pay high to dwell or vacation in a town with cache’s and cultural scenes, being dutiful proxies in making the housing and rental market even more enriching for the Gentrification Industrial Complex of real estate and government.