Yesterday there was another McCarthy Manor fire, this time two apartments directly below me. http://www.syracuse.com/crime/index.ssf/2015/04/crews_responding_to_fire_at_apartment_complex_near_syracuse_hospitals.html
What was not reported in the newspaper article is that this eight-story building, located at 501 S. Crouse Ave., is home to 176 people, more than 90% of whom are disabled, elderly and poor. It is a HUD-subsidized apartment building.
What also was not reported is that it only has two elevators, one of which has been out of service for about two months. Additionally, the front door has been broken open for several weeks, thereby giving us no security, and has been broken closed for about three days, thereby preventing us from entering or exiting the building.
If there had been a need to evacuate 176 disabled and elderly people–about 50 of whom are in wheelchairs–through only one elevator and one door, the consequences would have been devastating.
The fire was in apartment 623. I was asleep in my apartment, 823, when the fire started. All my windows were open. I awoke, confused and afraid, to smoke billowing up past my windows.
McCarthy Manor is owned by Related Management (http://www.related.com/), an extremely wealthy company with properties all over the country and the world (including Dubai). Related purchased McCarthy Manor about four years ago and has let the property drop in safety and security.
I have had multiple conversations with manager Dana Natale, and her supervisor, Jessica Chiamulera, located at Parkside Commons on Fayette Street, and the state supervisor, Betty Perry. Related’s senior vice president in charge is Hector Pinero in NYC. Pinero refuses to accept or return phone calls. Perry’s repeated excuse is “I’ve only had this job a year; it didn’t happen on my watch and I’m not responsible.”
The McCarthy Manor superintendent–known only as “Shi”–is responsible for snow removal. He did such a piss-poor job that Centro’s Call-a-Bus stopped picking people up at the front door. People in wheelchairs had to go out into the snow-narrowed street to get the bus.
The heating bill for these one-bedroom apartments is figured at $71/month. In fact, I am paying about $150. Another tenant has been heating his apartment with the oven and is paying about $300/month. A third tenant has photos of ice on the inside of her windowsill. About six years ago, the building was rehabbed, including new windows, and then sold to Related. There are major drafts around my windows. I think that the windows were not properly insulated when they were installed, and now the tenants are paying for heat that is going out the window. All winter my thermostat was set at the highest level—85 degrees—in order to get the room temperature up to 70. I am paying for my heat to go outdoors. Related refuses to do an energy audit.
In the lobby, there is a pond containing koi fish that are about a foot in length. The water level dropped about a foot. There often was a serious stench. The plants surrounding the pond were allowed to die from lack of watering.
The maintenance staff consists of three people. The porter retired last year and was not replaced for a long time. His replacement only lasted about three months. The porter’s position–which is the person who cleans the bathrooms on the first floor, the glass doors, vacuums all the hallways, etc.—now has been vacant since before Christmas. The manager is not allowed to hire. Applications have to be vetted by Related in NYC, which apparently is so busy building in Dubai that they don’t care what happens to their tenants Upstate.
I have filed complaints with Tom Druelinger, project manager in HUD’s field office in Buffalo. He takes no action except to forward the complaints to CGI, HUD’s subcontractor for complaints. CGI, located in NYC, does not listen to tenants’ complaints. Their young call-takers are in a New York City state of mind and they repeatedly interrupt old sick people who are trying to explain that there is a problem. Lacking all essential information about the complaint, they then routinely find in favor of management.
Where am I supposed to go? Who am I supposed to talk to in order to get Related to fix the problems in this building and bring it up to standard?
Are 176 sick old people to be allowed to die in a building with only one elevator and one exit? That is the question I asked myself yesterday as I hurried to close my windows against the smoke.
Please investigate and report.
Anne C Woodlen
P.S. A tenant recently was evicted. He has been hanging around the building and, with the door standing open and no security, did he come back in and start the fire? Who knows? Who’s asking? Apartment 623 was vacant and being rehabbed.
P.S. 2 Fire Chief S. Cavuto reports that the NYS code says that an apartment building only has to have one functional elevator. There is no stipulation as to whether that’s for 30 apartments or 300. He calls that “unacceptable.” I agree. There have been two fires at McCarthy Manor in the past 15 months. One was two doors down the hall from me and the other was two apartments directly below mine. Chief Cavuto and I discussed the horrific image of his fire fighters carrying dead bodies out of the building.
Related Management, are you paying attention? HUD reports that you are trying to find the money to fix the elevator that has been broken for two months. Try borrowing it from the account that’s being used to build the high-rise in Dubai.