Long Island City seniors are waiting for fixes to be made to their senior center, and have been doing so for three years.
Funds allocated to fix various problems at the Jacob Riis Settlement House at the Queensbridge Houses have yet to be put to use, and now the community wants answers as to why.
Betty McCord, a senior at the center, said that it was difficult for her to breathe last month during a Queensbridge town meeting that took place inside the gym on a hot day. There were fans available but according to McCord, they did not help.
“This place is not suitable for our seniors” said McCord.
Over the past three years, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer has allocated $300,000 for the renovation of two bathrooms and the installation of an air conditioning system in the gym. After meeting with New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) six months ago, the agency only told him the changes would take two more years.
He added NYCHA gave reasons such as not enough designers or workers for the project’s delay.
Representatives of the center said the major problems of the bathrooms are the exposed pipes on the ceiling, toilets that are either too high or too low, rusting appliances, infestation of insects, and flooring that could be dangerous to seniors.
“The lack of safe, functional, and welcoming rest room facilities for our participants and staff, particularly our seniors and young people, has been a problem for several years now,” said Robert Madison, director of Senior Services at the Jacob Riis Senior Center. “Our older adults are often forced to use the upstairs facilities because many of them simply will not set foot in the downstairs bathrooms.”
On Friday, August 16, Van Bramer gathered with seniors and representatives of the Jacob Riis Settlement Neighborhood House, the Jacob Riis Senior Center and the Queensbridge Houses to call on the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to repair problems at the community center.
“Jacob Riis Settlement Neighborhood House is the hub and heart of Queensbridge,” said Van Bramer. “How long do our seniors and youth have to wait for these renovations and improvements to take place? It is impossible and unconscionable to believe that it is going to take NYCHA nearly five years to fix our community center. This is a disgrace. We cannot and will not wait any longer.”
According to a recent NYCHA report sent to the city council, the agency has held onto nearly $50 million in taxpayer dollars which should be used for repairing projects, such as restoring New York City community centers which include the Jacob Riis Settlement House.
“I call on NYCHA to get this work done for the residents of Queensbridge,” said Van Bramer. “Not tomorrow, but today.”
Requests for comment from NYCHA were not returned as of press time.
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