Judge Wayne Saitta of Kings County Supreme Court has been hearing the PPR case since June, when residents took property owner Haysha Deitsch and the Department of Health (DOH) to court seeking a preliminary injunction that would require PPR to maintain all of its services for residents.
Last Wednesday, Judge Saitta listened as the counsel for the PPR residents complained that empty apartment units were being rented out to non-residents, the quality of meals had seriously diminished, air conditioning in the hallways had been shut off, some elevator services had been shut down, certain common areas had been closed off, access to transportation had been limited, there was no longer an activities director, cleaning and recycling services had been cut back and furniture had been removed from common areas.
The counsel for PPR consented to return all of these services.
PPR refused, however, one request in the residents’ motion. In the past, residents ate in a dining area. Since they had been abruptly told to move and the court case was opened, residents had been crammed to a much smaller room, further from the kitchen and without appropriate air conditioning, according to a supporter of the PPR residents.
The defendants' counsel denied the accusation of an inadequate eating area, at which point Judge Saitta scheduled a visit to PPR the following Friday, August 8, to examine the dining area himself.
After the visit, during which he asked some of the residents questions regarding their living conditions, Judge Saitta determined that meals had to be moved back to being served in the main dining area.
Councilman Brad Lander, who has supported PPR residents throughout their battle, said that he will continue to fight with the residents as the case continues in September.
“We will continue to stand by our neighbors as long as a single resident remains in the building,” Lander wrote in a statement.
Sandy Reiburn, daughter of a former resident of PPR, said that she respected and appreciated Judge Saitta taking matters into his own hands, instead of depending on word of mouth.
“It was very heartening to see the judge there [at PPR],” Reiburn said. “He took the initiative to find out for himself, and he saw that the dining area was isolated and crowded and he said open it up.”
Now that the judge has ordered for services to be restored, the residents will wait until September to continue the proceedings on the future of PPR.