I-Team: After Rape, Broken Doors Still Plague Manhattan Housing Complex

One month after police said a rapist entered a home in Manhattan's Baruch Houses through a broken, unlocked door and attacked a woman, the I-Team found more than half the buildings in the public housing complex had doors with similar problems.

The city's public housing agency, NYCHA, fixed the victim's broken door shortly after the Nov. 12 attack.

A month later, the I-Team conducted a survey and found 10 of 18 residential buildings that make up the Lower East Side complex still had busted locks or broken windows that allow strangers to reach in and open doors from the inside.

"This building also has a broken lock. That building has a broken lock," said Jasmine Terrell, as she tried to keep her young daughter away from a broken door swinging open and closed. "Look, babies can open it and run in. You don't know who's behind there."

In an email, a NYCHA representative said the agency is fixing some of the broken locks the I-Team found.

"As of Dec. 30, there were six doors reported as inoperable at Baruch -- work orders were created for all, and those repairs were scheduled to be made by development staff," the email read.

Despite making "significant repairs," the NYCHA representative added, "these [broken doors] are unfortunately recurring issues."

State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Lower East Side) says NYCHA has failed to promptly fix doors even when there is funding to replace them. Squadron secured state funding in 2010 to install a new "smart door" on a building known as the Baruch Houses Addition. The new door will use key fobs instead of keys and it will automatically alert the NYPD if propped open for too long. But Squadron says NYCHA and its contractor have repeatedly missed deadlines for installation.

"We've heard things as wacky as the fact that the software isn't consistent with itself and the door cracked on delivery," Squadron said.

Although funding for the smart door was allocated in 2010, NYCHA says the cash wasn't released by the state until 2015. The agency did not address claims of missed deadlines, saying the new door technology should be functional "in the coming weeks."

Roberto Napoleon, a tenants' association president and resident of the Baruch Houses Addition, said he is frustrated the new door technology remains inoperative.

"I blame NYCHA because NYCHA is supposed to be implementing it and supervising that it's done accordingly," Napoleon said.

Other residents say part of the blame for busted doors lies with a few destructive public housing residents who often break them as soon as maintenance workers make repairs.

After the Baruch resident was raped in November, doors to her building were fixed. But two weeks later the I-Team found one of the magnets broken. It has since been fixed again.

Meanwhile, police have charged Robert Bowie, 20, with the rape. He has pleaded not guilty. Bowie's attorney says he disputes the charges. 

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