By KATELYN HRUBY
It was the hour of her discontent.
An exasperated Marlene Gardenhire and her son were en route to the doctor for his persistent nosebleeds. She was up with him into the early hours of the morning, and now he would miss school to make the appointment. The cause? She said it was a mold and asbestos infestation that has gone unrepaired by New York City Housing Association.
“Are they gonna wait until he’s admitted into a hospital for his asthma?” Gardenhire asked, standing outside the Alfred E. Smith Houses on the Lower East Side.
Gardenhire told her tale of woe as one of 320 residents of the project filing a lawsuit against NYCHA to compel it to make immediate repairs.
Smith Houses Tenant Association President Aixa Torres announced the lawsuit Tuesday, where she charged deplorable and dangerous conditions in the houses that have gone unaddressed for years. Such conditions include toxic mold exacerbated by Hurricane Sandy and monthly gas outages.
“We’ve been averaging a gas outage a month since I’ve been TA president,” Torres said.
The tenants believe that NYCHA has intentionally neglected repair air jordan 11 work in retaliation to community opposition to its infill development plan.
The plan is part of NYCHA’s land lease proposal that according to NYCHA would allow the city to generate income by leasing land to private developers while preserving public housing.
But residents are skeptical.
The plan would allow for 80 percent of the land to be privately developed and rented at market value while the remaining land would continue to contain affordable public housing.
While NYCHA says that affordable housing would remain intact, Smith residents like Nancy Ortiz believe the plan was a way for NYCHA to phase out affordable housing in the Lower East Side and other communities in Manhattan
“We are the ones who are the backbone of the community,” shouted Ortiz. “Now that we have luxury waterfront property they want to move us out. No.”
Torres insists that the plan would only exacerbate Manhattan’s affordable housing problem.
“ [The plan] is making New York City a tale of two cities,” she added. “The rich versus the poor, hard-working people of Smith Houses.”
Torres said she was told in January that she would get the money for repairs if the community ended opposition to infill development.
Torres and the group’s lawyers believe that there are other solutions to NYCHA’s alleged lack of funds. The lawsuit addresses NYCHA’s seeming refusal to work with community leaders to discuss other ways to generate income for repairs.
NYC Comptroller and mayoral candidate John C. Liu made an appearance at the announcement, saying that after reviewing NYCHA’s finances, his department found that over a billion dollars has been lying dormant in NYCHA, money that he said could be used for the repairs.
“We’re not going to tolerate this. The lawsuit is in against NYCHA,” air jordan 12 Liu said. He continued to advise residents to stand strong because: “we’re not going to get strong armed by NYCHA.”
According to attorney Stephanie Rudolph of the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, regardless of the fund issue, NYCHA is required by law to make the repairs under the warranty of habitability. The law asserts that conditions in both public and private housing cannot be dangerous to the health, life, and safety of residents
“It is the implicit right of every tenant that supersedes any written contract,” Rudolph stated.
Torres is optimistic that the residents will prevail in the suit. “Our fight is a just fight. Our fight will continue,” Torres said, adding, “It is for our homes, for our children, and for our children’s children.”
NYCHA issued this e-mailed response: