NEW YORK — Keshia Benjamin lives inside the Jacob Riis Houses on the Lower East Side.
Benjamin says she was sick and tired of repairs not being done, so she called PIX11. After PIX11’s story on April 4th, Benjamin claims she got a notice threatening to evict her from her apartment. Benjamin was from and center of a housing rally and press conference on the steps of city hall.
Her allegations of intimidation now have the attention of City Councilmember Carlina Rivera.
“She was was brave enough to come to the media, and not everybody was brave enough. They are afraid of retaliation," Rivera said.
Councilmember Ritchie Torres says the City Council is now requesting a probe into whether NYCHA staffers are intentionally targeting tenants who speak out. “The fact that families fear NYCHA thats a problem,” Torres said.
NYCHA denies any retaliation and tells PIX11: “Ms. Benjamin has not been intimidated. She received this notice following several meeting requests and letters due to continued rent delinquency in 10 out of the last 12 months. Ms. Benjamin has since paid her rent and there is no pending action against this resident. We continue to work with her on the repairs she has requested.” Benjamin denies these allegations.
Maria Toro, who lives inside the East River Houses, said since January, she has tried to get repairs in her kitchen.
“I have a 2-year-old, nine year old, and a 10-year-old. I’ve tried getting the city to listen, fix the big hole over my sink. Nothing. My kids are getting sick,” Toro said.
PIX11 reached out to the New York City Housing Authority, and a spokesperson said they are looking into her complaints.
Toro tells PIX11, workers from the city promise to fix her kitchen wall on Thursday.
Kathleen Mendoza and her daughter said their second-floor Richmond Hill apartment on Jamaica Avenue is a nightmare from floors to ceilings. “Since last June, kitchen ceiling has been hanging by a thread. There is flooding everyday. And rodents in my granddaughter’s room,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza has a Section 8 voucher through NYCHA.
A NYCHA spokesperson said, “We have spoken with the resident and are sending a Section 8 inspector to look into this as soon as possible. This landlord has also confirmed he will visit the apartment today. If any NYCHA Section 8 voucher holder wants to report physical problems within their units, they can call our Customer Care Center at 718-707-7771 to notify us of any concerns.”
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