Photo by Clarissa Jan-Lim
Bohdan Rekshynskyj visited his building last week at Village View, but was not allowed access to his apartment. In the photo above, he picked up what he called a letter of support that had been left outside his door.
BY CLARISSA JAN-LIM | A resident of the Village View apartment complex faces an uphill battle to keep the home that his parents owned before him in the middle-income co-op.
Bohdan Rekshynskyj’s (pronounced “wreck-shin-ski”) ordeal began on March 1, when his two-bedroom apartment, at 60 First Ave., at E. Fourth St., caught fire while he was out. Rekshynskyj, 53, has since been served with two holdover notices that, if upheld in court, would see him evicted due to complaints of hoarding, as well as “obnoxious odors” being emitted from his apartment.
Usually, in such cases, a certification of eviction must first be obtained from a hearing officer with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development before proceeding to Housing Court. In this case, due to the “emergency nature” — the tenant’s allegedly cluttered apartment and odors — H.P.D. has reportedly granted a waiver to allow the matter to go directly to Housing Court.
Since the fire, he has been able to return to his home only three times, while under close watch by security, and otherwise has been unable to enter his apartment because the building’s management changed his door.
Although he confesses to being a messy person, he said of his apartment, “It’s not a hoarder place like you see on TV. I’m just messy by nature,” he said. “I’ve been to other apartments, and a lot of people are messier than I am.”
He also said that his love for cooking means there is the occasional accident, hence the smell.
“Maybe sometimes I burn a plate or two,” he said.
Initial investigations by the Fire Department indicate that the blaze was accidental in nature. However, the building has been abuzz with rumors that it was arson, according to a source close to Rekshynskyj, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.
“If it was arson, the police would have arrested him by now,” the source said. “They’re spreading all these rumors about him… . There’s a guy going around saying he’s a terrorist.”
As for the charges about smells, he retorted, “I do not have any obnoxious or noxious odors coming out of my apartment.”
Rekshynskyj said that despite having been promised that his place would be cleaned and the windows fixed up after the fire, the management has yet to do so.
“They are lying to me, consistently, about the renovations going on,” he said. “It’s been since March 1. They’re just lying, and lying and lying.”
He also charged that his belongings have been rummaged through and some even stolen.
“I have ancient coins which I would sell off to pay the rent, and I think they have stolen them,” he said. “I do not know for sure.”
The source said Rekshynskyj was denied access to his apartment because the Fire Department deemed it inhabitable, but, she noted, “It’s never going to become habitable because he can’t go and clean it. It’s a Catch-22.”
Rekshynskyj’s efforts to speak to the complex’s manager, Joanne Batista, proved futile.
“She refuses to talk to me,” he said. His attempts to discuss his situation at a Village View board of directors meeting on Tues., June 11, were also not acknowledged.
Most recently, he had temporarily been living in the single-room-occupancy Sun Bright Hotel, at Bowery and Hester St., a place his friends helped him find. But he had to leave the S.R.O. on Tuesday. Speaking on his last day at the hotel, Rekshynskyj said he doesn’t know what will happen to him now.
“These people are completely evil,” Rekshynskyj said, referring to Village View’s management and board. “I’ve never been this vulnerable. … I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow. I’m really in a desperate situation.”
When contacted for comment, both the board’s president, Adam Silvera, and an attorney for Village View, Robert Cecere, declined to speak about the situation due to legal reasons. Cecere instead referred questions to what he called Rekshynskyj’s court-appointed “guardian.”
Rekshynskyj admits he has a “medical condition,” though did not want to specify its details. Village View maintains that he cannot take care of himself and needs help. However, Rekshynskyj and the source said he does not have a guardian.
“Absolutely not,” Rekshynskyj said. “I don’t need a guardian. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”
Rekshynskyj’s court date for the holdover case is set for July 1.
by Gerard Flynn