The New York City Housing Authority was derided by Bronx Borough President Rubin Diaz Jr. on Thursday for what he said is an embarrassing case of tenant neglect.
When Bienvenido Martinez, 72, went in for emergency surgery to amputate his leg above the knee late last year, the last thing he expected was to be evicted from his apartment. Despite being notified of his medical emergency by the rehabilitation center where he was recovering, NYCHA kicked Martinez out of the Union Avenue Consolidation complex in December over an outstanding debt of $816, according to the borough president’s office.
Since Martinez was still being treated at the rehab center at the time, NYCHA should have placed his belongings in storage, as required by law. Instead, Diaz said the housing authority threw Martinez’s possessions — his birth certificate and Social Security card, among them — in the trash.
“How much more expensive is it to make this man homeless, rather than use a little common sense and work with him to keep him in his apartment?” Diaz asked during a news conference about the case on Thursday. “It will cost far more than $816, I’m positive of that. This is a tragedy, and NYCHA should be embarrassed. The agency must fix this mess and make Mr. Martinez whole again.”
Diaz’s office has been working with Martinez since his eviction, trying to get him placed in a new NYCHA apartment and a reimbursement for the items he lost. The borough president said he sent a letter to NYCHA’s interim chair and CEO Kathryn Garcia in March but has not yet received a response on the matter.
NYCHA spokeswoman Barbara Brancaccio said the housing authority was working on restoring Martinez’s tenancy but could not comment further on "individual residents’ lease agreements."
The borough president is demanding NYCHA resolve Martinez’s situation as soon as possible.
“It is shameful that NYCHA has no trouble expediting the eviction of a newly disabled senior citizen but cannot seem to move as quickly to replace its boilers or provide repairs for units with long-standing issues,” he said.