Noris Bello says she and her 8-year-old have been waiting three years for New York City Housing Authority repairmen to fix three broken windows in her 10th-floor, Polo Grounds Towers apartment.
On Tuesday, she got tired of waiting and snuck into NYCHA’s downtown headquarters along with about 20 fellow tenants to deliver a laundry list of grievances to Housing Authority higher-ups.
They want the agency to fix leaky, mold-causing pipes and chronically broken elevators — immediately.
“We’re living in very dangerous conditions,” Bello said outside NYCHA headquarters at 250 Broadway downtown. “I have an eight-year old child. They can fall anytime.”
Her plea for NYCHA to find replacement parts for her windows comes just days after a toddler crawled from a 13th-story window onto an air conditioning unit at a Bronx complex. NYCHA officials declined to comment on that Tuesday. The incident has only worsened Bello’s anxiety over the safety of her fourth grade son.
Bello, whose apartment overlooks Yankee Stadium, worked for years as a nanny watching pro ballplayers’ kids at a daycare center inside the ballpark. Now, she splits her time nannying through an agency and selling ice cream and food outside her building so she can devote more time to her son, Nicholas Babic, who has ADHD. But being in the neighborhood, she said, is depressing, especially after witnessing the murder of 18-year-old Jordan Barber four years ago.
“He bought ice cream from me,” she said. “His mother was there when he passed.”
Barbara Williams, an organizer with Community Voices Heard — the group that backed Tuesday’s protest — is concerned about leaky pipes causing mold.
“We have cabinets falling off the walls. We have holes in ceilings. We have peeling paint. Now there’s lead involved in that,” she said. “Our children are being effected by all of this.”
Housing Authority spokesman Michael Giardina said NYCHA “values its partnership with Community Voices Heard” and will continue to meet with the group.
“We apologize to our residents for the delay, but NYCHA will complete outstanding repairs as quickly as possible,” he said.
The issues Williams described Tuesday have already led to consequences for the authority, but residents say that has not translated into results for them.
Six years after the city submitted to a consent decree giving a federal judge oversight of NYCHA’s mold woes, the Housing Authority is still struggling to respond. As of July, NYCHA has failed to resolve 29,914 leak, mold and mildew complaints, a recent study showed.
The authority is also under the watch of a federal monitor stemming from its handling of lead paint in its buildings.
But mold and lead are not the only indignities people suffer on a daily basis.
Even getting down the elevator at the Polo Grounds is an ordeal because two out of three elevators on her side of the building are often out of commission, Bello said. That means a wait of anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes just to get to the ground floor to sell pastelitos and her frozen confections.
Bello will not use the development’s laundry room because of mold and the stench there and said she’s also now dealing with a roach infestation in her apartment.
“We are asking for decent living conditions,” she said. “My son deserves a good living condition.”