While NYCHA has stated recently that it is becoming more efficient at addressing backlogged complaints, it's still not fast enough for Van Bramer.
At a rally at Queensbridge Houses last week, the councilman said over the last three years he has allocated $300,000 in funding for two bathrooms to be renovated and air conditioning to be installed in the gym.
However, he said the work is constantly being delayed while the cost keeps going up.
Van Bramer said that three years ago NYCHA told him it would take $135,000 to complete the renovations. Van Bramer allocated the money, however was then told a year later that an additional $165,000 would be needed to complete the projects.
“I asked NYCHA Chairman John Rhea and the leadership of NYCHA in a private meeting when are we going to get the air conditioning and the bathroom fixed; give me a time table,” he said. “They said we can’t give you a timetable it’s going through the process.”
Queensbridge Tenant Association April Simpson-Taylor said that many seniors are unable to participate in summer activities in the gym due to the heat.
“This is a disgrace,” she said.
“What is happening here in Queensbridge is happening all throughout the City of New York,” said Councilwoman Letitia James. “The reality is that they tell you one number and then they change the number midstream.”
James, a candidate for public advocate, proposed an apprenticeship program from within the community that could help NYCHA make the repairs at the same time they provide jobs and training.
Christopher Hanway, executive director of Jacob Riis House at Queensbridge, pulled some paint off a hallway wall after the rally. He said the staff repainted the wall, but he was told NYCHA employees had to do the work. NYCHA staff later came and painted over the work the staff had done.
“While I thank NYCHA for their partnership in so many ways over the years,” he said, “I really do have to implore them to step up and make these necessary repairs and changes for the benefit of these folks we work with every single day. They deserve better.”
NYCHA officials have responded to these allegations and said, "The New York City Housing Authority has met with Councilman Van Bramer earlier to discuss the steps needed to move the project forward and we are working with Mr. Van Bramer to bring this effort to completion."