By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — The elevators at Frederick Douglass Houses were out of service for four days in a row last week, so tenant Marilyn Spruill walked her 7-year-old son up and down 10 flights of stairs every day to get to and from school.
At Wise Towers, a senior tenant who had young grandchildren visting asked for a hole in her wall to be repaired. She was told she would have to wait two years.
Those were two of the worst stories New York City Housing Authority officials heard from public housing tenants at a Community Board 7 housing committee meeting Monday night.
Community Board 7 Housing Committee Chair Victor Gonzalez spent more than two hours asking nine NYCHA officials questions on behalf of residents. Tenant leaders also chimed in with questions and complaints.
Some questions were basic: When is garbage pick-up? Are video cameras going to be installed? Some were more involved: Why isn't there more communication about what's being done to fix broken elevators?
Gonzalez, who lives in Wise Towers, said broken elevators take a toll on seniors and people who use canes or wheelchairs. Sometimes residents have to put up with "double headers," when two elevators go out of service at once, Gonzalez.
Gonzalez suggested that NYCHA repair crews give residents better information. Instead of just putting up an "out of service" sign, Gonzalez said tenants want to see a short explanation of the problem and what's being done to fix it.
"If you can't fix it, at least let us know why," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez also quizzed officials on the long wait residents endure when they put in a request for repairs — up to two years in some cases.
NYCHA representative Robert Knapp said the agency "isn't comfortable" with the multi-year wait time. The problem stems from too few employees for too many repair jobs, Knapp said.
Gonzalez said he was satisfied with the answers NYCHA representatives gave. "We got information that was needed," Gonzalez said. "Now we have procedures that are on public record. Now when residents put in complaints they'll be able to be more clear and get better results."