When Paul Levine, 65, a tenant of the NYCHA Glenwood Houses, came down in his electric wheelchair early Tuesday morning on July 19th to sit outside with two of his neighbors, the elevators broke down again, leaving them stranded in the heat.
According to Levine, who has lived with his wife on the sixth floor of one side of the two-sided building at 5803 Glenwood Road since 1983, the elevators have been breaking down frequently since around 2020, and more so recently.
From June 3rd to July 25th, Levine reported that the elevators were not working in his building at least a dozen times. Each time he filed a complaint with NYCHA’s Customer Contact Center, he was given a ticket number to give to Emergency Services; an elevator services team was sent to make repairs and then the elevators would break down again.
The week of July 18th was the beginning of the first citywide heat wave of 2022 with a heat index of about 100 degrees plus. As a result, there was a low voltage condition related to a Con Edison service interruption in the area as confirmed by both NYCHA and Con Edison.
“So the elevator is down and stuck on the 6th floor and the outer door opens up and you see the inter door of the elevator,” Levine said.
On July 23rd, he called Emergency Services to get the Fire Department. “The elevator outer door opened up but no elevator — all you saw was the shaft of the elevator and it was on the first floor and I’m on the 6th floor,” he said of the dangerous situation.
NYCHA personnel told Levine that low voltage was the reason all 10 NYCHA buildings within Glenwood Houses had no elevator service. His building had no elevator service from July 21st to July 25th, and he had to be carried up the stairs. This meant that the elderly or disabled who could not take the stairs were stuck in their apartments.
Levine’s wife thought she could cross over to the building on the other side, navigating around solar panels on the roof but was forced to take their 13-year-old service dog up and down the stairs in the sweltering heat because that elevator went down too.
Third floor neighbor, Novella Ford, 73, struggled to bring bottled water up to her apartment and was forced to take the stairs to get to her doctor appointment. “I thought I was going to pass out it was so hot — I mean, I was sweating through my clothes,” she said.
Levine said that the building had emergency generators, but were burned out and never repaired, a claim that NYCHA could not support according to their records. Ford said that they need to pay more attention to the generators and send someone knowledgeable to assess and repair them if that is the problem.
“It’s scary because you don’t know when it’s going to break down,” Levine said. “I’ve been stuck in the elevator plenty of times.”
NYCHA has released the following statement in response to this story:
“The outages detailed here for June and July were related to Con Ed voltage issues or preventative maintenance. Throughout the extreme heat emergency that swept through New York City at the end of July, there was an extended period of time when the elevators were down and the estimated restoration time fluctuated due to the work Con Ed was doing. NYCHA is working closely with Con Edison to ensure the process to hook up an emergency generator is expedited and will ensure stair climbers are available for future service disruptions.”
In addition, NYCHA advises residents to immediately call the Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771 or submit a complaint via the MyNYCHA App.