Tenants Ask Judge For Contempt Charge Against NYCHA for Overdue Repairs

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 Tenants of Morris Houses are trying to hold NYCHA in contempt of court because they say the agency has failed to make promised repairs to their apartments.

Tenants of Morris Houses are trying to hold NYCHA in contempt of court because they say the agency has failed to make promised repairs to their apartments.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

CLAREMONT — A group of 25 tenants of the Morris Houses are hoping a contempt of court motion will spur NYCHA to make good on a promise to make repairs to their building, which they say is infested with mold and roaches.

The residents of the public housing unit took NYCHA to Bronx Housing Court last fall to force the agency to fix rampant issues like severe mold, rotting furniture, broken door locks, roaches and rats. They reached a settlement with some of the tenants on Sept. 29, 2014 and with the rest of them in early November. In each instance, NYCHA agreed to make the repairs within 90 days. 

But several months past the deadlines, the majority of issues remain unaddressed, according to Garrett Wright, a senior staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center, which is representing the tenants.

“They did almost none of [the repairs],” Wright said. “I think of the 110 violations, they [fixed] maybe 10 or 15 of them.”

Since the settlement, NYCHA has made repairs to some stoves and fixed a shower, where tiles had been falling off the walls, but major issues still remain outstanding, including leaky ceilings, peeling paint, pests and warped bathroom floors, Wright said.

On May 5, tenants filed a motion to hold NYCHA in contempt of court for not keeping its word. The first court date for that motion takes place on Monday, he said.

“As a result of [NYCHA’s] failure to complete the repairs, my family and I itch frequently,” writes tenant Jainaba Karaga in an affidavit, who noted that her apartment is infested with mice and roaches, has poorly painted ceilings and broken bathroom floor tiles.

“The floors are a trip hazard and the flakes from the ceiling are hazardous,” she continued.

Julia Saravia, whose complaints include NYCHA’s failure to paint the apartment, wrote in her affidavit that both she and her son have missed doctor’s appointments while waiting for NYCHA workers to come to their home to do repairs.

“They’ve just really been apathetic to our needs,” Saravia said in Spanish, through a translator. “Sometimes they come to fix something, and they don’t come with their tools.”

Wright said he views the contempt motion as a way of compelling NYCHA to do what it should’ve already done.

“We’re hoping that this will light a fire under NYCHA to get these repairs done, finally, and hope that there will be some accountability for NYCHA’s inaction,” he said.

NYCHA did not respond to a request for comment.

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