JASA Residents Raise Cain Over Elevators
By Miriam Rosenberg
During the meeting in the buildings’ dinning room, Donald Manning (the director of housing for JASA) told skeptical residents that members of the union who fix the elevators are on strike and JASA has needed to call in repair people from as far away as Pennsylvania and Texas.
“We realize it’s maybe time to get new elevators. We’re trying to work with New York State. If we can win a grant, maybe we can get new elevators. If not, we’ll have to work with the guys who fix it.”
That explanation – along with a plan to re-mortgage the building at a lower rate to bring in more money to be put back in to the buildings in, perhaps, two years – did not bring a reaction of satisfaction from those attending the meeting.
In response to a Russian resident – who claimed some elevators have been out for two years – Donna Stuart (the manager of the buildings) said, “The elevators have been in and out. They have not been out that long. They have been repaired.”
That answer brought shouts of “nyet” (or no) from other Russian seniors in the buildings. The meeting quickly got out of control as residents, seeking answers to their questions gathered around the table where Manning, Stuart and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer were sitting.
The Wave was able to speak with several of those who live in the JASA buildings – most of whom preferred not to give their names – about the problems.
The residents told The Wave about broken elevators; promises for new ones for the last two or three years, and about one ill woman who needed to be carried down 15 floors to get medical attention.
Lillian Kessler, who has been living at JASA since 1988, resides on the 21st floor. The week before the meeting, she had to walk 13 flights of stairs because of broken elevators.
One woman, who asked that her name not be used, has lived there for 11 years. “The elevators have been out so many times,” she said. “One was out about a year ago for a whole month. They kept telling us the men were on strike.”
Manning also announced that JASA would be filing a proposal for a rent increase with New York State.
“Most [residents] get some kind of assistance from Section 8,” said Manning. “This will directly impact very few people. The majority of you will be protected by subsidies.”
Manning continued by saying, “We are asking the government to give us more subsidies to help cover our expenses.”
According to Manning there are 546 apartments in the complex. The expenses to run the buildings include $900,000 a year for heat, $300,000 for insurance and $300,000 a year in health related expenditures.
Manning addressed other problems, and some solutions, in the JASA buildings.
Water penetrating through bricks into the apartments will be fixed, the roofs will be replaced and it is hoped that some landscaping can be done. There are also plans to paint the laundry room and repair the machines.