Monday, April 27, 2009

Federal stimulus money may help upgrade public housing elevators

From the New York Daily News. Here's a previous story in The NY Times.

Millions of dollars in federal stimulus money may finally fix the chronically broken and sometimes dangerous elevators in city public housing projects.

Seventy million dollars to repair and replace broken elevators is included in $423 million for renovations in the city's public housing buildings in the stimulus package, Mayor Bloomberg and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced April 26.

"We understand how important safe elevators are," said Donovan, who served as city Department of Housing Preservation and Development chief until President Obama tapped him. "HUD supports [the city Housing Authority's] commitment to keep accidents and tragedies from happening in New York public housing," Donovan added.

The Daily News has chronicled long-standing problems with the elevators that have stranded disabled and elderly residents.

The issue gained prominence last summer when 5-year-old Jacob Neuman fell to his death while trying to get out of a stalled elevator in a Brooklyn complex.

Along with already allocated city cash, the federal money will help upgrade 145 elevators in 11 developments.

"It's a very good sign," said Wilma Brito, a wheelchair user who says she's often trapped in her 10th floor apartment in East Harlem's George Washington Carver Houses.

Bloomberg offered no guarantees that the problem will be solved completely.

"Elevators do tend to be fickle," he said.