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Surprise repairs for severely-damaged housing project

February 22, 2010
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NEW YORK — A Brooklyn housing project, after years of ignored complaints, received eleventh-hour repairs the night before a scheduled press conference for tenants to air their grievances, according to the New York Times.

According to the story, residents of the three-building Bedford-Stuyvesant Rehabs, operated by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), suffered from mold, leaky pipes, stained ceilings, rats and other pests, broken heating and hot water systems and a number of other maintenance problems despite repeated complaints to NYCHA.

Chi-Chi, the pet bird of tenant Rafael Caban, was even dragged from its cage and into a hole in the wall by a rat, the story stated.

Caban said: "Yeah, it ate the bird. The cage was on the floor."
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, about a dozen maintenance workers visited the buildings the night before the press conference and patched holes, replaced Sheetrock and painted walls, the story noted.

Cassandra Harrell, the president of the Bed-Stuy Rehabs'' resident association, said: "I''ve never seen anything like this in my life; […] they knew the press was coming."

According to the story, NYCHA spokeswoman Sheila Stainback, however, said the repairs were simply scheduled maintenance in response to resident complaints.

Stainback also said that NYCHA has been affected by a $137 million budget deficit to oversee 336 buildings, the story added.

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