Some elderly and disabled residents in a Bronx apartment building where the elevator has been broken for five months say they're desperate for a quick fix and are welcoming a bill to speed up emergency elevator repairs across the city.
At the building on Wallace Avenue, 86-year-old Williams Burns was one of the many unhappy residents who told NBC 4 New York of how they've suffered without an elevator.
"I have to depend on people to help me take stuff upstairs," he said.
Burns, who also has a heart condition, said he's had to depend on neighbors like Fernando Colon to help him get to his fourth-floor apartment.
"It's terrible, it's hell, it's a nightmare," said Colon, describing another elderly neighbor, an 85-year-old woman, whom he often has to help to the sixth floor.
The building's managing agent, Richard Laubsch, told NBC 4 New York over the phone that the elevator "has been a travesty," and that the company it hired to fix in June was "inept." Then it hired another company, which also was unable to fix it.
Laubsch, whose father owns the building, says he wants to do the right thing and fix the building, but subcontractors have made it "difficult."
Councilman Jimmy Vacca has helped pass a bill that would allow Housing Preservation and Development, which oversees affordable housing in the city, to go in and fix elevators themselves when the landlord fails to do anything -- and then just bill the landlord. He says issuing violations to the landlord has been futile.
"What we've been doing for as long as I can remember is having the buildings department issue violation after violation, and it's not worth the paper it's written on," he said. "They're ignored."
The legislation, which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign by Wednesday, could motivate landlords in buildings where residents have filed elevator complaints -- like the Bronx building, where at least 15 elevator violations were filed with the Department of Buildings since 1998.
Residents are hopeful the new bill will finally help make the repairs happen sooner rather than later.