Assemblymember Frontus Brings Attention to Deplorable Conditions in NYCHA’s Gravesend Houses in Coney Island

Tenant living in inhumane, unsanitary and dangerous conditions; NYCHA promises immediate action in response

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus led reporters on a tour of an apartment in NYCHA’s Gravesend Houses that has been allowed to fall into unsanitary, deplorable conditions over the past dozen years due to lack of ongoing maintenance and repairs, creating unsanitary, unhealthy and unacceptable conditions for the tenant. 

The apartment is home to a Coney Island resident who has lived in Gravesend Houses for the majority of her life and has been in her current unit since 2005. For the last 12 years, she has dealt with severe deterioration of her apartment including extensive mold, peeling, and inadequate electricity. As a result of these conditions, the tenant’s health and well-being has been negatively impacted and her son has been forced to live with relatives to avoid becoming sickened by the mold and other hazards that currently exist in the apartment. (The tenant’s name is being withheld due to privacy concerns and to ensure they are not retaliated against.)

Assemblymember Frontus and community activists including Gravesend Tenant Association President Maria Navarro visited the apartment last Thursday to gain a firsthand look at the conditions. Assemblymember Frontus then wrote to NYCHA, requesting that NYCHA Chair and CEO Gregory Russ also visit the apartment to personally witness the deplorable lack of maintenance. As a result of Assemblymember Frontus’ advocacy, NYCHA has agreed to move the resident to another unit for several weeks while her apartment is fully cleaned and renovated.

“I am outraged and distraught by what I saw in this apartment. I’ve been living in Coney Island for 37 years and this is one of the most shocking conditions I’ve seen firsthand. As the assemblymember for this community this will not be allowed on my watch. I have invited NYCHA CEO Gregory Russ to come to Coney Island and visit this apartment with me. This is a case of a rent-paying tenant falling through the cracks and the head of NYCHA needs to see this for himself,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus.

“It’s been heartbreaking because I could never feel like this was a home due to the living conditions and I felt like I was a horrible parent because I couldn’t make it better. I felt like every time I made a complaint to NYCHA it wasn’t listened to, so I gave up. I’m asking NYCHA to remember they are dealing with humans and to have a heart. We should feel as though we matter,” said the resident of Gravesend Houses.

“It’s a shame that NYCHA seems to care so little about the residents here. It broke my heart to see my neighbor living in such an unhealthy environment. Nobody should be forced to live in these conditions. I want the tenants to know that they have a voice, and we are going to speak out for them and make sure NYCHA does better. I’m very concerned because I’m sure this resident is not the only person living in similar conditions,” said Maria Navarro, Gravesend Houses Tenant Association President.