The City Wants to Fix Your Elevator

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Host 1: When an elevator breaks down repeatedly, all the city can do is give out violations and fines, and eventually take the owners to court. Meanwhile, elderly and disabled residents feel trapped in their own homes. But a new bill in the city council may give the city the right to make repairs more quickly. Hanna Klingberg tells the… uplifting tale.

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Out of order. The three most annoying words in the English language. At least when it comes to elevators. But today, the Housing and Buildings committee discussed establishing an emergency repair program that would allow the city to step in and fix the elevator when the landlord doesn’t. That’s good news for the residents of 545 W 146th St. The building is number five on the city’s “Top Elevator Offenders” list. It has 17 violations. But today, the elevator actually works… Sort of.

Ambi elevator

7-year old Jennifer Rakacella lives on the third floor.

Rakacella: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Hanna: Does it take them long to fix it

Rockacella: Yes

Hanna: How long?

Rakacella: Ten weeks (0:14)

Jennifer’s fourth floor neighbor, Pilar Pannji, explains that the elevator was repaired earlier this week.

Pannji: This Monday it was working, two weeks ago it was not working

Pannji says it’s worst for the eighty year-old woman on the top floor. Council member James Vacca agrees.


Vacca: Seniors and the disabled people have a right to freedom of motion just like the rest of us and when elevators don’ work for months on end, baceuse the landlord refuses to fix it, that’s a violation of their human rights.

It was Vacca who introduced the bill to the city council. If the bill passes, it will give the city the same authority it has to fix other urgent problems like mold, heat, and gas. Instead of just issuing violations and fines, the emergency repair program will fix the elevators and bill the owners. But ideally, Vacca wants building owners to take responsibilty for the repairs themselves.

Vacca: I think it’s something we must have authority to do as a last resort.

The bill currently has 39 sponsors, and after today’s hearing, that includes the chairman of the committee. If the bill is approved by the city council, the emergency repair program could be up and running early next year. Hanna Klingberg, Columbia Radio news.

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