NYCHA fails to find long-term fix for malfunctioning elevators, residents complain

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Residents in a Bronx public housing complex complain that they are plagued by elevator issues.

Exclusive video provided to Eyewitness News shows one elevator in the Butler Houses, a 21-story complex run by the New York City Housing Authority, apparently skipping floors, forcing residents to step off a roughly six-inch ledge to access some of the floors in the building on Webster Avenue.

When Eyewitness News rode one elevator, the elevator stopped on multiple floors in which the doors failed to open and residents hoping to get out had to pry the doors open.

"How are we supposed to live like this?" asked Jarinette Medrano, who lives in the Butler Houses and provided Eyewitness News the video.

Medrano first contacted Eyewitness News in December during an elevator outage.

Many residents who rely on wheelchairs and canes were waiting on the first floor of the complex, unable to easily reach their apartments.

Other residents took the stairs.

"It's out of control," said Will Porter. "We are people too."

"We pay a lot of money to live here, but yeah, three elevators and they don't work," added Milena Torres. "Now, look what everybody got to go through."

Back in December, NYCHA promised elevator crews would fix the issues but residents complain the problems have persisted.

"It's not lasting at all," Medrano said. "All you (NYCHA) are doing is fixing it for a few minutes, a few days. That's it. They will be right back."

Eyewitness News returned to the complex this month in response to ongoing complaints of outages and called the Housing Authority.

A NYCHA elevator team showed up to repair the malfunctioning elevators.

"Our staff is closely monitoring the elevators at Butler Houses to ensure that our residents have consistent service," said an NYCHA spokesperson in a statement.

The spokesperson also pointed to the agency's $32 billion need in capital funding for upgrades to the city's aging public housing complexes in an effort to explain ongoing equipment failures.

While capital needs for new elevators at the Butler Houses are estimated at roughly $14.4 million, NYCHA rates the elevators as being in "fair" condition and does not plan to modernize them until 2023.

Residents complain four years is too long to wait for reliable elevator service.

"It affects everything," said Medrano. "It's ridiculous. They're not fixing them, but they expect people to pay their rent on time."

NYCHA says residents experiencing any issues in their apartment or in common areas should create a work ticket by using the MyNychaApp or by calling the Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771.

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