Helping elderly with elevator service

Seven On Your Side
February 18, 2008 4:18:45 PM PST
It's a nuisance for most of us when elevators in this vertical city go on the fritz. But for older people, and those with disabilities, it's a huge problem.

Some people in one Bronx apartment building were without their elevator for months. And it became a health problem.

That is, until they hit the call button for Tappy Phillips and 7 On Your Side.

Some of the residents were disabled. Others had medical conditions that limited their mobility. They were all living in a building where the elevator had been out of service for months. And when they felt the building owner was ignoring their pleas, they reached out to get Seven On Their Side.

Robert Newman's six-floor climb is so steep, he must stop to catch his breath at every landing.

"I feel like I'm dying, and it's six floors," he said.

Robert has a heart condition and takes his medication with him whenever he goes up or down stairs, just in case.

Brunilda Gonzalez was released from the hospital and has to maneuver her walker up the stairs. Just one flight was so dangerous, we had to help her.

"It was hard to put weight there up and down," Gonzalez said.

These are just two of the residents of the Bronx building. It is a building where the elevator has been out of service for more than two months. And calls to the landlord were getting nowhere.

"They're putting my life in jeopardy," Newman said. "As well as the mothers with small kids and everything else."

The Department of Buildings has received complaints about the elevator for months. Last month, they issued the management company a violation for a "failure to maintain" the elevator.

The Manhattan management company sent us to their PR contact.

When we visited the building again, we found workers replacing the controls of the old elevator. The buildings department said there was no permit for the work and slapped them with another violation.

The PR agency told us the management company took over the building last August and started work to modernize the elevator last month. Repeated requests to find out what accomodations were being made for the disabled residents have gone unanswered. They will have to answer to the city, however, on the buildings violations.