Advertisement

Queens business owner who illegally housed migrants ran similar shelter with 45 beds inside Bronx building

Officials respond to illegal building conversion in the Bronx
Officials respond to illegal building conversion in the Bronx

A Queens business owner who illegally converted his furniture store into a boarding house for migrants ran a similar makeshift shelter in the Bronx that was raided on Wednesday, officials and sources said.

The commercial building on East Kingsbridge Road in the Fordham section of the borough was cleared out by FDNY and Buildings Department workers after they found 45 beds packed tightly together on the first floor and cellar, according to the DOB.

Sources said eight people were inside when authorities arrived.

Building inspectors found extension cords, e-bikes, space heaters and hotplates strewn about the ad hoc sleeping quarters — less than two days after a South Richmond Hill site with comparable living arrangements was uncovered by authorities.

The DOB issued a vacate order at the former Bronx cell phone store-turned-hostel due to the “hazardous life-threatening conditions, lack of natural light and ventilation, and severe overcrowding.”

The commercial building on East Kingsbridge Road had 45 beds packed tightly together on the first floor and cellar, according to the DOB. Christopher Sadowski
The commercial building on East Kingsbridge Road had 45 beds packed tightly together on the first floor and cellar, according to the DOB. Christopher Sadowski
The DOB issued a vacate order at the location and migrants were left out in the rain with their suitcases. Christopher Sadowski
The DOB issued a vacate order at the location and migrants were left out in the rain with their suitcases. Christopher Sadowski

The department also issued two violations to the landlord for failure to maintain the building and for occupying the building contrary to city records.

Migrants, mostly from Senegal, were ordered to gather their belongings and leave.

Dozens with suitcases waited on the sidewalk in the rain while officials from the city’s Emergency Management Department assisted. About eight to 10 migrants left on an MTA bus with Emergency Management officials Wednesday night.

The same person responsible for similar makeshift shelter at a Queens furniture store is believed to be behind the Bronx illegal conversion. Christopher Sadowski
The same person responsible for similar makeshift shelter at a Queens furniture store is believed to be behind the Bronx illegal conversion. Christopher Sadowski

Police sources said the man responsible for the illegal conversion is the same person who crammed 40 beds in the basement of Sarr’s Wholesale Furniture in Queens, where Senegalese migrants often slept in shifts.

The business owner Ebou Sarr, 47, admitted that he charged each man a $300 monthly “contribution” to live in his little hostel.

“They don’t even have relatives here, nowhere to go, sleeping on the trains and the streets,” Sarr told The Post on Tuesday of the Queens location. “So we have to intervene.”

The DOB cited “hazardous life-threatening conditions, lack of natural light and ventilation, and severe overcrowding” at the location. Christopher Sadowski
The DOB cited “hazardous life-threatening conditions, lack of natural light and ventilation, and severe overcrowding” at the location. Christopher Sadowski

Migrants at the Bronx spot told The Post that they were also charged $300 a month for the tight sleeping quarters in a storefront next to “Sarr’s Juice Bar & Grill.” A community member said the makeshift shelter was once a phone store that closed down.

Adama Ka, 25, said he first lived in the Queens location before he was told to come to the Bronx building, where he’s slept for the past two months. He was originally living in the city’s shelter system but was kicked out for being late one night and was living on the street for one week.

“If I knew it would be like this in the United States I would not have come,” Ka told The Post while left on the sidewalk in the rain Wednesday. “I had a good place there but on the TV it shows that here is a better place. It’s not that. It’s not what I saw on the TV.”

Migrants at the Bronx spot told The Post that they were charged $300 a month for the tight sleeping quarters. Christopher Sadowski
Migrants at the Bronx spot told The Post that they were charged $300 a month for the tight sleeping quarters. Christopher Sadowski

The FDNY and DOB first responded to the address after a complaint was filed mentioning 60 or more people were living in the storefront and were being charged $300 a month by Sarr.

Mayor Eric Adams confirmed that city officials believe the same person was responsible for both locations in a Wednesday interview with CBS 2 News.

“People exploit those who are in need,” he said, noting the $300 charge.

With 45 beds, that would mean Sarr, who is also from Senegal, brought in about $13,500 a month — and that’s if the beds were only used by one person.

Fire officials told The Post that migrants renting out beds in the Queens furniture store would often sleep in shifts — totaling up to 80 individuals or $24,000 a month.

Migrants, mostly from Senegal, were ordered to gather their belongings and leave. Emergency Management officials provided assistance. Christopher Sadowski
Migrants, mostly from Senegal, were ordered to gather their belongings and leave. Emergency Management officials provided assistance. Christopher Sadowski

Sarr said that the money would go to get a building where they all could live legally and maintained that he was helping the asylum seekers, who have no relatives or place to go in the US, on Tuesday.

“I am helping the guys,” Sarr said. “I’m giving them somewhere to stay. Some of the guys who heard about me, they weren’t even going to the shelter. They were coming straight to me.”

The Bronx building’s management claimed that Sarr broke into the vacant storefront and added the beds without their knowledge, according to PIX11.

The building owner did not immediately respond to a Post inquiry.

A contractor pulled down the gate over the storefront and drilled bolts into it Wednesday night.