Resident in 3-year battle with NYCHA over Harlem 'homeless invasion'

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- In her nearly four decades living at a New York City Housing Authority Development in Harlem, Theresa Coles Ragin has had her share of battles with NYCHA. But none as frustrating as her current one.

For three years, Ragin has been trying to get NYCHA to stop what she calls a "homeless invasion."

"I'm afraid," she said. "It's like they've made my building their home."

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A resident is in a three-year-battle with NYCHA over a Harlem 'homeless invasion.'

The Grant Houses in Harlem is a sprawling complex with eight buildings, but only the one Ragin lives in has homeless encamped there. She claims that's because NYCHA has failed to fix a broken lock on the front door of the 21-story building.

"The door is wide open for anyone to come in," she said. "If they fixed or replaced the broken door, the homeless problem would be fixed."

We checked the doors on the other buildings at the Grant Houses, and they were all locked. When invited in by residents, we found no trace of homeless people living in these locked buildings. But when we visited Ragin's building, we found a homeless man sleeping on a landing about 25 feet from her apartment.

"I've exhausted every resource that I could to get this problem fixed," she said. "And nothing."

Ragin has taken pictures and video that document at least a-half dozen different men and women who have been trespassing into her building for at least three years. They sleep, eat, and, at times, Ragin says, they go the bathroom on the landings.

She said they have intimidated her several times for calling the cops.

"I have a picture of one, she's growling at me," she said. "You can see the picture. She's infuriated."

Ragin said her fear is that one of these days, one of them may go off.

"Something bad is going to happen," she said. "And then, NYCHA is going to say, 'Oh my God, I am so sorry.'"

NYCHA officials say they are working with the NYPD to address this situation. A spokesperson said the door to the building has been fixed eight times in the last two years, which the agency blames on vandalism.


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