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NYCHA Pledges to Help Tenants Who Can't Be Home for Mandatory Construction

By Janet Upadhye | June 3, 2014 4:20pm
 Jacqueline Francis's apartment was robbed during mandatory construction at the Ingersoll Houses in Fort Greene.
Jacqueline Francis's apartment was robbed during mandatory construction at the Ingersoll Houses in Fort Greene.
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DNAinfo.com/Janet Upadhye

FORT GREENE — Residents at a city-owned public housing complex who cannot provide daytime access to construction workers for mandatory renovations are being asked to leave their keys with neighbors — following a pair of burglaries at unlocked apartments at the complex last month.

NYCHA officials told Ingersoll House residents they needed to provide access to their apartments from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. for 10 working days, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

But some interpreted the notice as meaning that those who worked during the day had to keep their doors unlocked. One of the victims of the break-ins was not home at the time, police said.

In the wake of the burglaries, NYCHA said that those who work shoudl leave their keys in the care of a "proxy" who has the authority to let workers in and out of for the electric, plumbing, kitchen and closet upgrades, officials said. 

A spokeswoman for NYCHA said if a tenant did not trust their neighbors with their keys and had to be gone during the day, they would find another solution — including NYCHA employees giving construction workers access.

But no one has requested that, according to the spokeswoman.

After the burglaries at two unlocked apartments and an extended schedule for construction, which stretched into its 16th day on Tuesday, residents said they're too afraid to leave their apartments during the day.

And they don't have any faith in NYCHA to follow through on its pledge, they say.

"NYCHA can be uncaring, it's like, 'okay, you're on your own here'," said retired teacher Jacqueline Francis, 68, whose apartment was burglarized on May 20. "This is nothing new to us who have been here for a while."

Since her apartment was burglarized last month, Francis has refused to leave keys with neighbors and locks her doors when she has to run out for groceries or for a doctor's appointment, as was the case on Tuesday.

She pointed to the case of her neighbor, who police said left his keys with another tenant while he went to work May 20, only to come home and find his computer and gaming console stolen.

Francis said she reached out to the agency prior to construction and asked for help to prepare her apartment for the renovations, which they had offered to seniors in the complex.

"They offered help to seniors. But they never came," she said.