Residents at two Upper East Side NYCHA developments are demanding in court that the Housing Authority make permanent repairs to decrepit elevators, pipes and heating systems that they say have plagued them for years.
Accompanied by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, more than a dozen tenants from the Isaacs Houses and Holmes Towers filed the legal papers Friday in Manhattan housing court.
“Every week, my office responds to calls from NYCHA tenants seeking assistance with repairs for broken elevators, vermin infestations, lack of heat and hot water and broken intercoms,” Maloney (D-Manhattan) said. “It is unacceptable that anyone is made to live in these conditions, and that residents often file multiple work order requests for the same issue without ever receiving a response from NYCHA.”
City Councilman Ben Kallos, a fellow Manhattan Democrat, said he fields similar calls, especially this time of year.
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“This is to make sure the repairs actually get done,” he said of the legal filings.
Residents from the two housing complexes, who joined to form the Holmes-Isaacs Coalition, claim maintenance in their buildings is abysmal, that they live without heat in the winter and that often they cannot get to and from their homes because of broken down elevators.
“In such situations, residents are forced to climb the stairs, sometimes for tens of stories,” they note in a petition to the court. Wheelchair-bound tenants, the papers continue, are simply stranded in their homes or outside.
One of the residents demanding action, Francisco Polonia, claimed in legal papers that during one dual elevator outage he climbed 23-stories and was so exhausted from the long haul that he didn’t get out of bed the next day.
That is by no means they’re only gripe. They pointed to several other problems as well as what they view as their causes. Other neighbors pointed to vermin infestations (failure to exterminate regularly), security concerns (doors that don’t lock) and mold (leaks caused by crumbling pipes).
La Keesha Taylor, co-founder of the Holmes-Isaacs Coalition and a New York City Housing Authority resident for 46 years, blamed years of disinvestment for such woes.
"Worst of all I have seen the decline in the overall upkeep of my development,” she said. “People had to sue to get into this development at one time, but the disinvestment by the government has led to this state of crisis. We are living in squalid conditions.”
City Hall spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said the city is reviewing the suit.
“This administration has made an unprecedented commitment to reverse decades of federal divestment in NYCHA," she said. "We will work with Holmes and Isaacs residents and community stakeholders to develop a path forward to address these developments’ repair needs.”