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Broken Elevator Traps Disabled, Elderly Tenants in Bed-Stuy Senior Housing

By Gwynne Hogan | August 22, 2017 1:56pm | Updated on August 25, 2017 9:17am
 Angelica Figeroa, whose used a wheelchair since suffering a stroke 20 years ago, had to call the fire department to carry her up the stairs when she was trapped outside.
Angelica Figeroa, whose used a wheelchair since suffering a stroke 20 years ago, had to call the fire department to carry her up the stairs when she was trapped outside.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

UPDATE: The elevator was working as of Wednesday morning. Charles McNally a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said they would monitor the location in case of further disruptions in elevator service. 

BEDFORD-STUYESANT — Dozens of elderly and disabled tenants have been virtual prisoners in their upper-floor apartments of an assisted living facility for weeks due to a busted elevator and building mangers have no timeline for fixing the problem, they said.

Residents of Bridge Street A.W.M.E. Church Senior Housing at 864 Gates Ave., a six-story building with 86 apartments, lost elevator service about two weeks ago, and started calling 311, and logging complaints with the building manager to no avail, they said.

 The elevator has been out of service for around two weeks and will be in and out of service indefinitely, according to the building managers.
The elevator has been out of service for around two weeks and will be in and out of service indefinitely, according to the building managers.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

"The most important thing we need there is the elevator," said 89-year-old Thomas Arrindell, 89, who uses a wheelchair and has a pacemaker. He's had to cancel two appointments with his heart doctor since the elevator was shut off, he said.

Elevator service briefly came back Friday morning, said 74-year-old Angelica Figeroa, a resident of the sixth story of the building. Figeroa has used a wheelchair for the past 20 years since she had a stroke. She went out to a senior center where she takes classes and therapy, but when she got back in the afternoon, the elevator was broken again, she said.

She had to call 911 and waited two hours, and eventually four FDNY firefighters carried her up the six flights to her apartment.

"It was too much," she said in Spanish. "I had pain in my whole body."

Now she says, she feels like a bird locked in a cage.

"I'm trapped here, I can't go out," she said.

A note posted on the elevator door asks residents to use the stairs until it's working again but offers no timeline for when that might be and doesn't offer any special accommodations for residents who are unable to climb multiple flights of stairs. 

Department of Buildings inspectors responded to complaints about the elevator three times this month and issued citations, though no further information was available on those violations immediately.

Scott Lucas, the vice president of property operations at Amistad Management Corporation, the company that manages the senior housing, said they've had issues with the building's only elevator and recently replaced the control panel but it has continued to break down intermittently.

“It may run a number of days. It may run a couple of hours,” Lucas said. "It's a major problem; we’re addressing it."

He acknowledged that the need is greater because of the age of his tenants.

"We do realize that they are seniors. We're just doing every thing we can to get everything back to normal," he said.

They receive funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and are waiting for the bidding process on a contract to fully replace the current elevator, which could take several months before any work begins to fix the elevator, he said.

Lucas said he didn't know if residents would be offered special accommodations getting in and out of their apartments in the meantime.