Public housing

Frontus provides free legal representation for residents of social housing

Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus announced today that her office has secured free legal representation for Coney Island NYCHA residents who plan to file a class action lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority. Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A has agreed to represent more than 50 NYCHA tenants residing in O’Dwyer Gardens and Sites 4 and 5, some of whom have been without cooking gas since August 2021. At a meeting held by the Frontus Assembly On Tuesday, NYCHA residents took the first steps of registering to participate in the lawsuit to be filed by Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A. While the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit will primarily be from the aforementioned NYCHA developments impacted by a gas outage in long-term residents of other Coney Island developments who suffer from other long-term chronic neglect and unresolved complaints such as brown water, mold and other maintenance issues impacting their health and their well-being will also add their names.

The lawsuit follows months of advocacy by Congresswoman Frontus and tenant association presidents Sheila Smalls and Felita Jackson. In June, Frontus Assemblyman and O’Dwyer Gardens Tenant President Sheila Smalls rallied with residents outside the complex on West 33rd Street to publicly pressure NYCHA to it resolves gas outages, which date back to January in the case of some tenants. Earlier, in February, Frontus asked Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso for help, and he immediately dispatched a food truck that provided hot meals to residents of Sites 4 and 5 and the Gardens. O’Dwyer for six weeks as residents were unable to cook due to the gas outage.

With all 375 households in Sites 4 and 5 without gas since August 2021, residents and leaders agreed legal action was a logical and necessary step given the first year of the outage.

“No one should have to endure days, weeks or in some cases an entire year without basic services, including cooking gas, in their home, wherever they live. These residents pay their rent, are good tenants, and deserve the respect and basic dignity of NYCHA. I have been with them since these problems began over a year ago and have promised to do everything possible to remedy this untenable and unacceptable situation. I am forever grateful to the attorneys at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A for taking on this case and helping us fight back, which will hopefully compel the city to finally take action,” said Assemblyman Frontus.

“We are proud to stand with the tenants of Sites 4 and 5 and O’Dwyer Gardens and we will fight with them to secure their basic rights to essential services. We hope to file a complaint in two or three weeks,” said Kristie E. Ortiz-Lam, Esq., director of the Preserving Affordable Housing program at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A.

“Our three buildings have all been without gas since August 2021 and this has been a major inconvenience for residents. Until the repairs are finally done it is difficult to cook in our apartments as they only gave us one hot plate. So it’s a huge relief to know that the Assemblyman is helping us connect with the attorneys,” said Felitia Jackson, NYCHA Site 4 & 5 Tenant Association President.

“I want to thank our Assemblyman Frontus for his consistent and ongoing support in holding NYCHA accountable for the impact that the lack of gas and other services constantly has on its residents. This lawsuit is unfortunately the last alternative to fend off NYCHA for the lack of services and amenities we receive as paying tenants. All we want is to get our gas back on,” said Sheila Smalls, president of the O’Dwyer Gardens Tenants’ Association.