Port Chester building official: ‘Third World’ tenants don’t know they’re overcrowding
The man in charge of building inspections in Port Chester is apologizing for his remarks in an article in the weekly Westmore News, which describes a planned crackdown:
The Building Department is concerned with the safety of all residents of the village — even those who are overcrowded. … They don’t know any better. These people come from Third World countries where they live in mud and paper shacks. Here they have a roof over their head, heat and hot water and they’re in paradise. They don’t know what they’re doing is overcrowding.
Local housing advocate Blanca Lopez objected to what she called stereotyping — and potentially, ethnic profiling — by the department. This would be the village whose local election system has been ruled discriminatory against Hispanic voters.
Acting Building Inspector Frank Ruccolo said he didn’t mean to single anyone out, and other officials are trying to strike a new tone. Trustee Daniel Brakewood put it bluntly in today’s article by Theresa Juva:
I want to reassure the residents of Port Chester that fairness and equity and public safety is what we’re concerned with. … We’re not doing anything that will get us tied up in a lawsuit.
The department is preparing to send inspectors out at night and to lodge criminal charges for sanitation violations, according to Westmore News.
The story also quotes a code enforcement officer saying he has learned enough Spanish to hold a basic conversation, adding, “I know when to duck and when to leave.”