Free app hopes to help NYC's neglected tenants get repairs done

Tuesday, April 04, 2017 06:10PM
AJ Ross has more.


NEW YORK - A new app hopes to help New Yorkers whose complaints about their living conditions are falling on deaf ears.

"I've noticed that the building is very dirty, they didn't clean very often," said Aida Miro, a tenant. "I had a leak. The heat was not always working, especially when the season was changing."

Miro's experience in her Bronx apartment echoes countless others.

An estimated 1.2 million New Yorkers are currently living in deficient housing with three or more unaddressed violations.

"It's like no access to the landlord, but you can call to the office and they keep you waiting and keep waiting," Miro said.

Now amplifying the voices of neglected tenants like Miro is a new free app called JustFix.nyc which utilizes technology to provide people the tools they need to get results from landlords.

"The vast majority of tenants are unrepresented while the vast majority of landlords are represented and there's this incredible imbalance of power," said Georges Clements, cofounder of JustFix.nyc.

Through JustFix.nyc tenants can thoroughly document and photograph deplorable conditions and also be connected to housing advocates and legal aid.

"Our app tries to break down the steps from the easiest thing, sending an official letter to your landlord, all the way to contemplating bringing your landlord to court," said Alicia Nieves, a legal fellow.

"You can actually also export this case as an actual piece of paper document, you can bring it to housing court and use it as evidence to really present your story in a more compelling way," said Dan Kass, cofounder of JustFix.nyc.

Miro was introduced to the app when she was having repeated heating issues this past winter.

JustFix.nyc sent her a thermometer to help document her complaints which were eventually resolved.

"Every time I was feeling cold then I look at this and I'm like, I feel cold because it is cold so taking pictures and then upload them," Miro said. "Just open the account and I just went through all the different sections and upload the pictures, easy."

Just six months old, the app already has more than 500 profile users in addition to thousands of visitors.

Several housing advocacy groups like Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) are also utilizing the app to streamline complaints and identify neglectful patterns.

"A lot of technology that's currently built isn't addressing some of these very real social issues, and so I think civic technology really has the power to build tools for the problems that people are facing in everyday life," said Ashley Treni, cofounder of JustFix.nyc.
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