Residents of the development say they have waited over six years to have their floors fixed, plumbing renovated and apartments fumigated.
“I want to stress that we don’t criticize the workers and the staff persons of NYCHA, but we definitely want to take to task the leadership of NYCHA, including Chairman [John] Rhea,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “Every resident of NYCHA deserves to live in dignity.”
Bramer said NYCHA claims it doesn't have the funds to make the repairs, but said this is false.
“The truth is, the city, state and federal government have pumped millions of dollars into their capital budgets, but they don’t spend it,” he said.
Rather, Van Bramer blames a backlog of repairs that NYCHA has yet to address.
“I’m not asking for gold and silver door knobs or toilet bowls,” said Congressman Joseph Crowley. “What they’re asking for is toilets and sinks and tiling that works and doesn’t fall apart.”
The congressman said this isn't just an issue at the Woodside Houses, and highlighted the mayoral candidates who spent the night at Lincoln Houses this past weekend to experience firsthand the issues facing public housing residents.
“It shouldn’t take that measure to bring focus and attention to problems plaguing the NYCHA system,” he said.
Residents said a big issue is that when the work finally gets done, it is a short-term solution. For example, one resident said that workers came to patch a hole in her wall six months ago, but never came back to paint the wall.
“Just because we’re in NYCHA doesn’t mean that we should live differently than anyone else,” said Annie Cotton-Morris, president of the Woodside Houses Tenants Association. ”We need to have a dialogue on how we can clear up this situation in our community, not just in Woodside but all through the city. Every development is dealing with the same issues.”
Cotton-Morris is calling for residents to develop a quality of life committee that would hold a meeting with NYCHA administrators.
“We live here, we can let you know we feel and you can help us change this,” said Morris. “We love our home and we want to stay here.”
NYCHA released a statement saying that they are doing what they can to solve the problem.
“NYCHA previously has announced that as of July 1, 2013, it has reduced the number of open work orders to less than 220,000 from a peak of 423,000 earlier in 2013,” read the statement. “The reduction is a result of NYCHA’s Action Plan to improve its efficiency in responding to maintenance and repair work order.”
Beth Anderson has been living in the Woodside Houses since she was five years old. Now an adult with serious medical conditions, she fears that her situation will only get worse given the living conditions in her apartment.
Anderson said the original tiles that are lined with asbestos are exposed, not only creating a health issue but making it difficult for her to ge around her apartment.
“I have a shoulder problem and I can’t walk that well so I’m worried about hitting a crack or a hole,” she said. “I don’t want to fall, I’ve had enough.”