Living through these challenging COVID times is bad enough, but no one should have to live in a building with broken elevators, without air conditioning to soothe medical conditions, and major pest infestations. Residents described their situation to NY1 and it’s horrific. Here’s an excerpt from the news report that came out earlier today:
NEW YORK CITY — Sean Noriega seethed as medics took away his neighbor Denise Kingsberry, in part because she wasn’t the first person he’d seen carried out of his building, but also because he didn’t know who would be next.
Noriega lives at Gema Hall, a single-room-occupancy building in Harlem that multiple residents said, and city records confirm, has long been crawling with roaches and mice.
But when the elevator went out in March, and New York City entered into lockdown amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, what was once a problematic home became something much worse.
Visitors were no longer allowed inside the seven-story building, Noreiga said, which meant residents were forced to carry groceries up tall flights of stairs too narrow to allow the use of carts or walkers.
Then, the arrival of summer brought heat that burned in the corridors and Gema Hall’s small rooms, which residents are not allowed to fit with air conditioners without a doctor’s note.
The building has also received nine violations in the past year with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for paint problems, mice and roaches, the department’s website shows.
Ramos said he “knew nothing about bed bugs” until he moved to Gema Hall, and has since seen neighbors battle all kinds of rodents.
Noreiga described roaches crawling out of toilets and kitchen sinks. Both Ramos and Noriega told the story of a man bitten by a mouse on the back of his head, and Kingsberry said she witnessed a mouse in her neighbor’s bed.
“This is ridiculous,” said Kingsberry. “They’re like slumlords.”
Kingsberry has since returned home, where she faced a climb up six flights of steps to the third floor, because the elevator has not yet been repaired.
“It was horrible,” Kinsberry said. “It’s scary when you can’t breathe.”