by Gwynne Hogan for DNA Info

April 4, 2017

BUSHWICK — City workers refused to meet with around two hundred public housing tenants who demanded they show up at a Sunday assembly to discuss basic repairs needed in common areas at Hope Gardens building complex.

"I'm mad as hell," said David Brawley, a pastor at St. Paul's Community Baptist Church in East New York who's helping organize New York City Housing Authority residents at Hope Gardens and other Brooklyn developments. Brawley spoke with NYCHA Brooklyn director Phillip Calandrillo who said he wouldn't come to the Sunday meeting at St. Barbara's Church on Bleecker Street in Bushwick.

"He refused to show up and directed his managers not to be here," he said. "We feel disrespected."

Ilana Maier, a spokeswoman for NYCHA, said that while they want to meet with Hope Gardens residents and hear their concerns, an already tight budget would make it irresponsible to send a representative to a Sunday meeting, who they'd have to pay overtime to attend.

About 200 tenants did turn up to discuss basic fixes to broken mailboxes, heat in one of the building's lobbies, cracked stairs and flooring that's constantly causing residents to trip and basic cleanliness in common spaces.

"They don't clean, they don't fix," said frustrated Hope Gardens tenant Marina Torres, 76, who lives in a building for senior citizens on Wilson Avenue, where the elevators are often out of service for hours. She recently had to climb 12 stories to her home when the elevator was broken.

"I thought I was going to die on the 10th floor," she said. "I was short of breath. Oh God, I don't think I'm going to make it. I got there tired and scared."

While organizers say the development is in need of more severe repairs, they want to pressure the housing authority to start with the simplest ones.

"It'll be tough to turn the developments around if we can't even get these basic complaints resolved," said Matthew Marienthal an organizer with East Brooklyn Congregations, also helping organize the residents.

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