NEW ROCHELLE, NY (October 27, 2023) — The water will stay switched on at Heritage Homes in New Rochelle, in large part due to the efforts of Kwamaine Dixon, a long-time community activist and candidate for New Rochelle City Council in District 3.
Dixon successfully lobbied City officials, elected officials and the local housing authority to pressure MacQuesten Development to reverse course on its announced plan to shut off utilities at Heritage Homes in a dispute over a proposed rent increase.
MacQuesten owns the properties, managed by Cornell Pace, which were developed in a public private partnership with the City of New Rochelle and the New Rochelle Muncipal Housing Authority. The property runs along Brook Street in District 3, represented by Yadira Ramos-Herbert, who is the Democratic Party candidate for Mayor of New Rochelle.
MacQuesten Development of Pelham, NY leafleted the Heritage Homes properties in New Rochelle on Friday, October 13, warning them that their utility services will be switched off starting next week unless tenants who are behind in their rent make payments.
“You are hereby advised that due to rent not being received by residents, there are no funds available to pay Veolia, the water supplier, and Con Edison for heating and cooking.”
After Dixon intervened, MacQuesten Development reversed course, circulating a letter on October 16, apologizing, calling the previous letter a mistake. They claimed the letter was “sent out in error due to a miscommunication”.
The miscommunication error included printing hundreds of copies of the October 13 letter, then hand-delivering them to every tenant of the sprawling property.
Heritage Homes consists of one stand-alone four-story building and 19 townhome clusters with 228 Low and Very Low-Income Units, with a little under half reserved for tenants with Section 8 vouchers in a program administered by the NRMHA.
Dixon issued a statement calling the letter a “scare tactic” by MacQuesten and Cornell Pace.
“How many parents and seniors were genuinely scared, confused, and just a nervous wreck over the weekend pondering what will happen to them,” said Dixon. “I received many phone calls from frightened residents looking for answers.”
“To chalk it up as a miscommunication is very irresponsible and disrespectful on many levels,” said Dixon. “I am calling for an audit into the owners and management company of Heritage Homes. I am calling for any fines or penalties that are applicable to what they have done. I am also calling for an investigation to see if their actions were criminal.”
Dixon thanked Angela Farrish NRMHA Executive Director, City Councilwoman Yadira Ramos Herbert, City Manager Kathleen Gill, County Legislator Damon Maher, Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Senator Shelly Mayer, and Assemblyman Steven Otis, for supporting his efforts.
We reached out to the New Rochelle Muncipal Housing Authority, the City of New Rochelle, MacQuesten Development and the Ramos-Herbert campaign, but they did not respond.
According to MacQuesten, Veolia has notified them that water service will be shut off on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, with Con Edison follow unless past due rent is received no later than Tuesday, October 17, 2023.