In 2003, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx established a Community Advisory Council to encourage open communications between the medical school and the community in the Bronx. Recently we discovered that a prominent member of this board is Howard Vargas, a local attorney and commonly appointed receiver at many of the buildings we work in. Furthermore, he was recently profiled in a New York Times article that unveiled corruption in receiver appointments. (Politically Tied Lawyers Win Jobs Handling Foreclosures in the City; June 20, 2011.)
It is controversial that Mr. Vargas is allowed to occupy this position of honor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 1255 Longfellow is currently managed by Mr. Vargas, and the health conditions are abhorrent. Tenants live side-by-side with rats and roaches, serious mold problems and a lack of heat and hot water. Antonia, a resident at 1255 Longfellow, says, “The rats are a health condition; there is no hot water for people. He’s abusing the poor people that live in this building!” Another tenant verified, “We call his office and they just hang up and never call back. Once I said there was no heat, and he yelled at me and called me a liar.” With the help of Bronx Legal Services, tenants at 1255 Longfellow are currently preparing to take legal action against Howard Vargas.
Tenants at 1255 Longfellow feel that Mr. Vargas is not in a position to represent the Bronx community, and given the health conditions in their building, find it problematic that he is advising at a medical school. Tenants call on the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to respectfully request his resignation from his position of honor on the Community Board, and suggest that the Community Board seek members who establish meaningful and responsible connections to the neighborhood.
Do you agree? Take Action!
If you are interested in asking Einstein School of Medicine to reconsider Vargas’s position on the Community Council, feel free to contact:
Albert Einstein School of Medicine Associate Director of Community and Government Relations:
Michael Heller- firstname.lastname@example.org
The co-chairs of the Community Advisory Council:
Nathan Kahn- email@example.com
Judge Douglass McKeon- (646) 386-3241