Halloween is over – but many living in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartments have to endure horror scenes on a daily basis.
Fortunately, for longtime Bayview Houses resident Vanessa Walker, all it took was a brief tour of her decrepit apartment by the Canarsie Courier to transform her dilapidated unit into to a place she can call home again.
“I’ve been living here for 33 years. My place was beautiful when I first moved in – you couldn’t even tell it was public housing. It was really nice and they would make the repairs as soon as you called their office,” Walker said during an interview in her home on Saturday, October 22nd.
The decaying conditions of Walker’s unit at 1610 East 102nd Street started several months ago when a leaking and broken pipe behind her kitchen wall required a huge repair job.
“The main water line behind the sink wall was leaking into my cabinets. They fixed the pipe and had to get rid of all the cabinets since they were warped and moldy – but they never came back to replace them or the outlets,” she said, pointing to a toaster oven plugged into an open hole in the wall with a wiry mess of exposed cables sprawling out. One lone, open and broken wood cabinet barely hung on her kitchen wall to hold a scant amount of dry goods.
Walker can’t even recall the total number of repair tickets she’s called in to NYCHA thus far. She maintains that crews passed by her apartment, claimed they kept their “scheduled appointments” – yet no one knocked on her door.
“They told me they were here…I’ve been home all day. They close the ticket after that and I have to put in another ticket. I was also told I can’t have more than four repair tickets in at a time. What am I supposed to do? I can’t live like this!” the 58-year-old resident cried.
Walker, who has a myriad of health illnesses, including asthma and diabetes, also dealt with open light switch outlets in her hallway, mangled and taped wiring behind her stove, a dripping toilet bowl pipe in her bathroom, cracked and old doors and a broken window in her living room. The window was reportedly shattered weeks ago by a baseball that careened into her third-floor apartment from the nearby playground. The frail resident had to patch up her window with a garbage bag.
Following the Courier’s visit to Walker’s apartment, NYCHA was questioned via e-mail about pending repairs. A few days later, their maintenance team began tackling most of the much-needed work to Walker’s apartment.
The agency issued the following response on Friday, October 28th: “NYCHA staff are working on repairs in this unit and have already completed replacing broken window panes, electrical work on wire moldings and outlets, replacing doors and door buck, removing a makeshift wall, door and countertop, plastering and painting. Carpenters [today] installed kitchen cabinets and hooked up the sink, and exterminators have been to the unit to treat the area. Staff is also working with social services to ensure this resident has any assistance needed.”
NYCHA also reminds tenants to continue to use the MyNychaApp or call the Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771 to create a work order ticket for any maintenance needs.
Repair work continued over the past weekend, the tenant confirmed. She is thankful and exhausted from fighting to make her home safe. She’s also relieved to have woken up from the nightmarish scene so she can once again have a functioning and comfortable place to live.