As a frequent critic of NYCHA and having referred to the agency as the city’s “worst landlord” three years in a row, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is keeping the pressure on for improvements at the city’s public housing complexes.
The public advocate’s office continued its citywide NYCHA tour at the Conlon LIHFE Tower in Jamaica last week, where First Deputy Public Advocate Nick E. Smith met with elderly tenants facing safety and security issues and discussed the need for urgent repairs and reforms.
The 13-story building at 92-33 170th St. contains 215 apartments exclusively for seniors, and Smith toured five of the residences.
“We wanted to come here today because this is a senior development and of any of the population of our city, we must make sure we do the best for our seniors in our city,” Smith said. “What we saw today was frankly unacceptable. We saw flooding issues, cracks in the ceilings, low water pressure, leaky pipes, black mold, mice holes. These conditions have existed for multiple years.”
The development opened in 1971. After his tour, Smith called out NYCHA for its pattern of neglect that he has seen in far too many complexes across the city.
“There is no reason that these repairs, which all could be done in a matter of hours and days, take months, weeks and years to repair,” Smith said. “Two years to fix flooding in a bathroom? Two years is unacceptable. So NYCHA, get your act together and act like you have respect for the 400,000 residents that you are required to serve.”
Conlon LIHFE Tower Resident Association President Joyce Hutton said the building has a big security problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
“We have an abundance of drug addicts, prostitution, homelessness, squatters, you name it,” Hutton said. “We have a lot of piggyback, meaning when a senior is coming through the door, someone from the outside walks in with them. We’re living in fear. How long do we have to live in fear? We need 24-hour security in here.”
Smith said the fact-finding missions will continue at NYCHA complexes across the five boroughs.
“We’re going to continue to look at these conditions around the city, and not just look and have a conversation,” Smith said. “We’re going to demand that NYCHA fixes these problems.”
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane