Councilman Rafael Salamanca is advocating for safer conditions in NYCHA buildings in his district to prevent those residents from contracting COVID-19.
On April 1, he sent a letter to NYCHA outlining what needs to be done. With hundreds of people in 19-story buildings with only two elevators, the virus could easily spread if the proper precautions aren’t taken, he said.
He wants increased flyers within NYCHA common areas detailing safety guidelines, as well as robocalls to NYCHA residents, improved sanitizing measures within common areas — prioritizing those developments in areas of New York City with the highest corresponding positive COVID-19 test results — the fast tracking of elevator repairs to prevent the overcrowding of working elevators and the installation of alcohol-based hand sanitizer/sanitizing wipe stations within NYCHA common areas and each floor of buildings.
“While we understand NYCHA has undertaken some outreach and sanitizing measures within developments, we are hearing from tenant association presidents and tenants that arrangements in specific locations are not occurring,” the councilman said. “With developments containing thousands of residents, many of them elderly New Yorkers, in each building interacting within close proximity, the potential to spread illnesses is greatly elevated.”
In light of feedback the councilman received from constituents who reside in NYCHA developments following his letter, Salamanca facilitated a cleanup of the Watson Houses, 1471 Watson Avenue, with the assistance of Wildcat Service Corporation, a Bronx-based service company on Wednesday.
The councilman told the Bronx Times elevators in these old buildings often break and now more than ever, repair service is crucial. Furthermore, it is imperative that people know if they touch a handrail or anything in the building they must immediately sanitize and or wash their hands.
Salamanca said he has constituents in these NYCHA developments who may not know the proper protocols for how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“They need to be educated about the coronavirus guidelines,” he said. “These are very common sense things that I’m asking.”
The councilman also touched on how he is handling the coronavirus. Seeing people dying every day, hospitals short on supplies and empty streets, is something he would never have imagined.
Working remotely, he is doing the best he can for the community. Access to food is a big concern for his constituents. There is a food distribution center operating out of Hunts Point that is dropping off food to seniors, but many people are struggling.
“I’ve been working to ensure that the fish, meat and food markets stay open in Hunts Point,” Salamanca said.
Ultimately the entire country is battling an unknown, he commented. He urges everyone to stay home unless they are an essential worker or in need of urgent medial care.
Salamanca also commended medical professionals for risking their lives on the frontline everyday during this crisis.
“We need to give them the tools they need,” he stressed. “I think everyone is trying to figure this out.”