142nd Street Fire
As most of you know, there was a devastating fire on Sunday March 13th at 117 West 142nd Street. This week my team has tried to connect at least 16 residents of that building with disaster relief and we were met with abhorrent results. I am in the process of exploring options so that Mayor Eric Adams and The Housing and Preservation Department (HPD) can provide Harlem with an acceptable, efficient and timely disaster preparedness response.
The fire left this building in unsafe, uninhabitable conditions, as it now has a vacate order. Allegedly, there are no vacancies available in any buildings where the affected families can move in. The Red Cross initially only provided the residents with a two day hotel stay. Later, their stays were extended to an extra four days at another hotel, requiring them to pack and move again. Finally we have been told those families are now being sent by HPD to shelters. While these shelters are equipped for full families, they do not allow any pets.
The process these residents have gone through is absolutely unacceptable. It is imperative that in times of emergency, the people of Harlem know they will be taken care of swiftly and completely. We need extended housing options ready to go at the time of emergencies. We must have housing options that include ALL family members. Pets ARE family. We also need a humane response that considers the mental and emotional health of the community. From my understanding, the confusion and stress has led to the hospitalization of at least two constituents.
This city is already experiencing a housing crisis, and it is poised to get much worse without an improved disaster plan. In the meantime, my office will be holding a clothing drive for these residents. Please drop off your donations to 181 West 135th Street. You can also call us at (646) 960–1344 if you or someone you know needs help in response to this emergency. My team and I are here for you.
Due to the building’s structure being compromised, there is no ETA on when residents will be able to return. However, if any need to retrieve any belongings, medications, etc, you have to contact Sean Graham from building management to set up an appointment. Sean will be able to help schedule appointments beginning Monday, March 21st. Please call 917–468–8292 to be scheduled.