FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM AUGUST 26, 2021 • THE QUEENS COURIER 3
Queensbridge residents fi le class-action lawsuit against NYCHA
BY JULIA MORO
Tenants of the New York City Housing
Authority (NYCHA) at the Queensbridge
Houses campus announced on Tuesday,
Aug. 17, a class-action lawsuit against
NYCHA for lagging in necessary repairs.
Th e Justice for All Coalition organized
support and sought legal representation
from Queens Legal Services, who fi led the
lawsuit on the tenants’ behalf. Residents
have complained about vermin infestations,
Photo by Julia Moro
NYCHA residents gathered to share their stories of living in unbearable conditions.
Man caught on video attempting to set Hollis church on fi re
BY BILL PARRY
A Hollis church was the latest target in
a string of vandalism incidents at houses
of worship across the borough in recent
Th e Diocese of Brooklyn is working
with the NYPD, which is searching for
a man who allegedly tried to light St.
Gerard Majella Church on fi re during the
aft ernoon of Saturday, Aug. 21.
Surveillance video at the church captured
images of the man throwing what
appears to be a scarf in the church vestibule,
while the doors were open, and then
he is seen lighting something else on fi re
and throwing it inside the vestibule.
Th e man then sits down on the church’s
steps where he was confronted by Father
Josephjude Gannon, pastor of St. Gerard
Majella, before fl eeing the crime scene.
“Th is is sad and very scary, but it could
have been worse. Th ankfully no one was
hurt and nothing was damaged,” Father
Gannon said. “Clearly this person has
issues, whatever they are I don’t know but
I hope he gets help. I will pray for him.”
Anyone with information is asked to
call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline
Th is is not the fi rst time Father Gannon
has dealt with vandalism at his church
located at 188-16 91st Ave. in Hollis.
In Sept. 2019, detectives from the 103rd
Precinct arrested a Jamaica woman in
connection with two acts of vandalism
aft er causing nearly $12,000 worth of
damage at St. Gerard Majella Church. Th e
69-year-old woman from Jamaica told
investigators that “black magic” caused
her to take a hammer to the Rosary
Stations, which were craft ed in Italy, the
parish signs affi xed to the fence, and the
sprinkler system. It was the second time
the woman had vandalized the church.
At the time of her arrest, Father Gannon
explained that everything that had been
damaged was purchased with parishioner
fundraising and they would pray for
“Such acts or religious intolerance have
no place in our society, and every house of
worship, regardless of their beliefs, should
be respected,” he said.
asbestos, lead paint and other
harmful living conditions for years.
One plaintiff, 72-year-old Pamela
Wheeler, resides in Queensbridge North
building and has complained to NYCHA
about an incessant mice infestation in her
According to Wheeler, NYCHA has not
addressed that issue or any other complaints
she has fi led. Wheeler also said her
kitchen sink does not work and frequently
loses heat in the winter, causing body
aches due to the cold temperatures.
“I decided to sue NYCHA because I
am tired of living with mice, roaches,
water bugs, lack of heat, holes in my walls
and sink, waterlogged and rotting cabinets,
and many more repair issues that
are a threat to my health and safety and
an aff ront to my dignity,” Wheeler said.
“NYCHA never repairs anything when I
fi le a ticket, and it is so frustrating trying
to get any repairs in my apartment.”
Robert Sanderman, a senior staff attorney
at Queens Legal Services representing
the tenants, said when NYCHA eventually
does do repairs, it’s “shoddy work.”
“Many tenants in Queensbridge are
senior citizens and have disabilities. Th ey
spend all this time and energy just to get
ignored,” Sanderman said. “Th is is unacceptable,
especially for tenants with serious
conditions in their apartments which
may exacerbate health concerns. Th is collective,
which includes other NYCHA
houses in Queens, is forcing us as a society
to decide whether we believe in every
person’s dignity of a clean, safe and sanitary
home. Th is should not be a sole right
for the privileged, but be extended to
communities of color.”
Th e lawsuit coalition hopes to get the
courts to force NYCHA to make necessary
repairs and award damages to the
plaintiff s. Th e lawsuit also asks the court
to determine that NYCHA has committed
illegal harassment by failing to make
legally required repairs and provide essential
Many tenants spoke about their fears
of facing retaliation from NYCHA and
losing their homes as they came forward.
Catherine Bladykas, another
Queensbridge resident, wept as she said
she has nowhere else to go.
Bladykas, a mother of three, said she
has been dealing with asbestos and vermin
“I do my best to manage the infestations
on my own. I have to spend
my own money on traps regularly
with no help from NYCHA,”
Bladykas said. “I had to move my
twins into one bedroom because
of the extensive black mold exposure
in one of the bedrooms. Th e
smell of the mold is getting worse
Bladykas said she oft en worries
about her family’s health and has
tried to contact NYCHA to make
her apartment livable.
“Home is supposed to be your
sanctuary,” Bladykas said as she
held back tears. “I should be able
to look forward to coming home.
It’s stressful. Th is is especially
problematic during a deadly pandemic:
It’s not safe outside and it’s
not safe inside my house.”
A spokesperson for NYCHA
told QNS that the authority had
not been served with this lawsuit,
and they do not comment
on pending litigation.
Photo via Twitter/@FDNY
Courtesy of a NYCHA resident
A sink cabinet covered in black mold.
Photo courtesy of a NYCHA tenant
The conditions inside a NYCHA apartment.