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NY1 For You: Unsecured Entrance Keeps WaHi Tenants On Edge

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Tenants of one Washington Heights building say their front entrance has been unsecured for years and walking in puts them on edge and in constant fear of intruders. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following "NY1 For You" report.

Residents living in one Washington Heights building say they are taking a risk every time they walk through the front door.
"I always come prepared inside the building. I always look to the right and the left before I go upstairs. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels like that," says Matthew Mercado, a tenant.

"At night, there are so many people here," says Abialen Luna, a tenant.

Tenants say their building has been unsecured without a working lock for more than a decade, leaving the door open for anyone to walk in unannounced.
"Some of the tenants in this building work late and work early in the morning, so when they come in they usually see someone in here doing something illegal, doing drugs. Someone homeless is always here, it's not safe," Mercado says.

Aside from an unguarded entrance, residents say the building has a laundry list of other badly needed repairs.

"It's not fair for whoever is the landlord to do this.  He doesn't care about nobody's safety here," Mercado says.

NY1's calls to management and the landlord went unanswered. However, the station then contacted the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and a spokesman said it has spent more than $25,000 to perform emergency repairs to some of the most hazardous violations which the owner has failed to fix since 2000.

The building currently has over 100 open violations, many for a broken or defective lock. The spokesman said HPD has no intention of letting the owners walk away from their responsibility to the tenants.

"It doesn't take time, that much time to change a lock and give everybody a new key.  If it was up to me, I would do it, but, I can't," Mercado says.

"NY1 For You" will continue to follow the story.

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