Vacca sponsored elevator repair bill requires HPD action

(l-r) Baron Spencer, Debra Spencer, Councilman James Vacca, Fernando Colon, Robert Piotrowski and Ramona Lopez stand in front of the only elevator at 2714 Wallace Avenue, that tenants say hasn’t worked in four to five months. Vacca called on the landlord, who was on site during his visit, to make the repairs immediately.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

An east Bronx councilman is coming to the rescue of often-stranded Allerton tenants, who are suffering elevator outages in their building.

As of press time, Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign into law a bill chiefly sponsored by Councilman James Vacca that would establish an emergency elevator repair program in the city by July 2016 or sooner.

The law, which is slated for the mayor’s signature on Wednesday, November 3, mandates that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development hire appropriate contractors to fix elevators and bill landlords once the Department of Buildings issues a violation.

DOB currently issues violation after violation to a building owner if an elevator is out of service too long, said the councilman, when the property owner isn’t making the repair in a timely fashion.

“Right now in New York City no agency has the wherewithal to do an emergency repair on an elevator, said Vacca, adding “We have…no emergency elevator repair program.”

Councilman Vacca drew attention to the needs of tenants suffering from elevator outages on Monday, November 2, when he met with tenants at 2714 Wallace Avenue.

The tenants who met with Vacca said that the only elevator in the six-story building has been out of service for about four to five months.

A man at the location, who said he was the landlord, but declined to give his full name, said that the elevator had been out for about three months.

Either way, Vacca and tenants said that the long outage illustrates why his legislation is needed.

Specifically in regard to the Wallace Avenue building, Vacca cited examples of two tenants in their 80s who may have issues climbing and descending staircases because they live on the fourth and sixth floors.

“When you have women with children, expectant mothers and senior citizens, an elevator is not a luxury, it is necessity,” said Vacca as he stood with tenants outside the building.

Tenant Fernando Colon, who is disabled, added that he is having difficulties walking up the stairs because he had an operation that affected his feet and he is also a diabetic.

“It is still a bad position to me,” said Colon, who lives on the second floor and who said he had reached out to the Neighborhood Initiatives Development Corporation and Councilman Vacca to foster change at the building.

Fifth floor resident Ramona Lopez said she is having trouble with the stairs because she has heart problems.

“I climb the stairs four or five times a day,” she said, adding that she has started going to the grocery store more frequently so she does not have to carry so many bags upstairs at one time.

Tenants said the building has other problems as well: a leaky roof, unsecured entrance doors, non-working intercoms and spotty heating. It also appears that the city has baited the building for rats.

“(The landlord) is now saying he is fixing the elevator…and that it will be done in two weeks,” said Vacca, adding “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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