New York, NY – On Friday October 22nd New York State Assemblymember Al Taylor (AD-71) stood alongside community leaders, local organizations and Esplanade Gardens, Inc. shareholders to speak out against the improper management of capital improvement repairs at Esplanade that has forced residents to live in deplorable, life threatening conditions for over a year.
“Esplanade Gardens, Inc. is a Mitchell Lama Co-Op that opened in 1967. The capital repairs were deemed necessary due to the age of the buildings, however, my office has received alarming reports regarding how these repairs have been carried out,” said Assemblymember Al Taylor.
Assemblymember Taylor's office has been looking into resident concerns for months, conducting wellness calls and apartment visits to see the damages and living conditions firsthand. Due to the overwhelming number of complaints, last week Assemblymember Al Taylor held two town halls to better assess the magnitude of the situation. Several local leaders attended including Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Community Board 10 District Manager Shatic Mitchell, as well as organizations like WE ACT for Environmental Justice. At the town halls residents shared countless horrific stories of flooding, ceilings falling in, toilets left in living rooms for months, extreme dust, shoddy electrical work, gaping holes, asbestos abatement concerns and more.
“The living conditions described by Esplanade Gardens residents are unconscionable and unacceptable and we cannot ignore their cries for help,” said Assemblymember Al Taylor at the press conference. “The Esplanade Gardens Co-Ops are home to mostly seniors of color, many with health and mobility issues that have been exacerbated by the lack of professionalism and the lack of communication throughout the course of this capital improvement project. Leaving a toilet in the middle of a senior’s living space for months on end and forcing them to travel to find a working bathroom is beyond the pale. All tenants, especially our seniors, deserve better.”
“We stand with Assemblymember Al Taylor and other elected officials in support of the residents of Harlem’s Esplanade Gardens, a Mitchell-Lama cooperative that has been providing affordable housing to working-class people of color for more than 50 years,” said Charles Callaway, the Director of Organizing at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “The management company in charge of the development’s capital improvement repairs and the construction company hired to implement them have created hazardous living conditions for residents, most of whom are senior citizens. The conditions are so bad that some of the residents have been forced out of their homes for more than a year. This is completely unacceptable, and we are going to work together to address these issues and ensure that Esplanade Gardens can once again provide healthy, affordable homes for these New Yorkers.”
“We are concerned about the problems that seniors are reporting," said D. Gilliard, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 10’s Senior Task Force. "We support having an in-depth look into this dire situation.”
“These types of actions are comparable to construction harassment of the worst kind,” said Cordell Cleare, New York State Senate District 30 Nominee. “Leaving residents, including many seniors, to fend for themselves, move heavy furniture & boxes, deal with dust, mold and be subjected to hazardous living conditions. City and State agencies should step in to protect these residents against dangerous conditions.”
"The shareholders deserve the truth and transparency about what is really happening to Esplanade Garden," said Geraldine Collins, President of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants and WHCR Talk Show Host. "Is it for sale? Why are there so many empty apartments and why are shareholders not aware? This is the worst type of elderly abuse I have ever seen at any building and no one has stepped up to help these seniors. I don’t know what else to say but this is the worst case of elderly abuse I’ve come across in all of my years. When you see no city agencies interested in getting involved it’s a big problem."
"When done right, capital improvements enhance buildings and improve quality of life in the long run," said Councilmember Bill Perkins. "From what we've heard from shareholders, the capital improvement repairs at Esplanade Gardens have not only made the lives of residents more difficult, but the mismanaged construction projects have also put their health and safety at risk. I stand with my colleagues in calling for an investigation into what went wrong here."
"Enough is enough!" Said Esplanade Gardens shareholder Gloria Lowe. "We want our homes back."
“A living hell in Harlem,” said Esplanade Gardens shareholder Millicent Redick, who has been displaced from her home since January 2021. “How long should uninhabitable conditions be tolerated by tenants? Why is this condition ignored by HPD, management, and the Mayor? Why should tax paying citizens be paying for such incompetence? Would you live like this? Who else would tolerate these unlivable conditions? It is unsanitary, unhealthy, and dangerous for children, adults and especially senior citizens.”
Following the press conference, Assemblymember Taylor and local leaders visited affected apartments to further demonstrate the dangerous and unacceptable conditions brought about due to mismanagement of scheduled repairs. During the walkthrough residents presented severe flooding damage, black mold, and exposed exterior walls that have not been rebuilt.
“Esplanade Gardens residents have suffered through uncertainty long enough,” said Assemblymember Al Taylor. “Residents are bravely coming forward to share their stories on how the capital improvement repairs have destroyed their homes, created hazardous living conditions, and put their lives at risk while various agencies have turned a blind eye to their suffering. They deserve answers, they deserve respect, and most of all they deserve action. I urge my colleagues to join me in fighting on their behalf.”
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams's Deputy Public Advocate for Housing Delsenia Glover, Keith Lilly for City Councilmember Bill Perkins's Office, Community Board 10 District Manager Shatic Mitchell, District Leader William Allen, New York State Senate District 30 nominee Cordell Cleare and City Council District 9 nominee Kristin Richardson Jordan’s campaign staff were in attendance.