Residents frustrated over broken elevator

The Investigators on Eyewitness News on WABC-TV New York

February 20, 2013 2:32:25 PM PST
Residents, many of them elderly and disabled, at a building in Morningside Heights are living without an elevator. The single elevator in the building has been out for 2 and a half months, and it apparently won't be repaired anytime soon.

City inspectors have been to this building multiple times. The landlord owes $23,000 in fines for 23 open violations. The majority of them are related to the elevator. People have reported getting stuck. It's often out of service, but it's never been as bad as this.

74-year-old Henrietta spends most of her days stuck in her 4th floor apartment on W. 111th Street because the one elevator in the building has been out since early December.

"I can't walk by myself. I'll fall. So I don't go by myself nowhere," she said. "I have to have this chair, but we always have to carry it down before I get down. I still have to go down the steps."

It's an agonizing process. She says it can take an hour to go up and down the stairs.

"Very hard. Very hard. They have to carry me sometimes 'cause I be so scared," she said.

In fact, the last time Mrs. Robinson left the house was to go the funeral of her son, a home health aide who had a heart attack in the apartment on January 30th. No one can say for sure if having an elevator would have made a difference, but the family does wonder.

"I just know it strained on him going up and down," she said. "If he had the elevator, of course, I think he'd be alive."

Carolyn Opilisky, who lives on the 6th floor, has diabetes and other serious medical problems.

"I feel trapped. I feel like I'm being tortured," she said. "I have a hernia and I have a leg that was almost lost in a car accident."

She pays someone to deliver, and goes out only for doctor's appointments.

We caught up with Mike Mellett with an armful of bags. His wife is disabled.

"Very frustrating. They've told me story after story," he said.

The landlord is Baruch Singer, who owns several buildings. He wasn't in at his Delancey street office, but his manager was there.

"We sympathize. We're doing everything we can do," he said.

The elevator company says repairs haven't worked, so it basically has to put in a new elevator and that could take six more weeks. We asked if Singer would make some accommodations for tenants like reducing their rent, but we did not hear back from his office.

This isn't the only building with elevator issues in the city. you can see New York City's buildings department top ten list of buildings with elevator problems by clicking here.


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