NEW YORK — After five long years of jumping bureaucratic hurdles, all one Cobble Hill mom needed to begin her dream job as a therapist was a piece of paper certifying her social work credentials.
But botched renovations in the lobby of her deluxe Warren Street apartment complex have put that dream on hold and left dozens of her neighbors in limbo waiting for a service protected under New York City’s Housing Maintenance Code: the right to receive mail.
“There is certainly a very pressing need right now and without my license I can’t practice,” said the mom “I’m just held back by the piece of paper.”
Tenants of 318 Warren St. have fought building managers and the U.S. Postal Service for more than a month as kids’ birthday cards, credit card bills and paychecks disappeared in the bowels of their local post office at Cadman Plaza.
“Management is basically saying they’ve done all they could,” one resident said.
Added another, “The amount of energy and time that tenants in this building have put into this is ridiculous.”
Problems began in June when management company Smith Street Realty began renovating the lobby — Department of Buildings records show a work order for the lobby was filed in August 2019 — and replaced the mailboxes without warning, tenants said.
NY1 left a message seeking comment with Smith Street Realty but did not receive an immediate response, but USPS spokesperson Amy Gibbs confirmed the Post Office Maintenance Department attempted to install postal locks but found the mailboxes unready.
A letter shared with NY1 also confirms the reports of tenants, who asked not to be named in fear management would retaliate by withholding deposits on apartments that listings show cost about $4,000 a month.
“We have been trying to reach the post office on a daily basis,” the July 13 letter states. “They have not answered any of our phone calls.”
Residents who braved the Cadman Plaza Post Office waited hours in line only to be told to come back later, to call numbers that rang without answer, that their mail was locked in the basement, that no one knew where their mail was.
To make matters worse, when the building’s garage door broke, bikes and packages were stolen from the ground floor holding area, two residents said.
Instead of fixing the door, the managers slipped the above-quoted letter underneath tenants’ doors.
“We have been made aware that a lot of packages that are delivered to the building sit there for days unclaimed,” Smith Street Realty Management wrote.
“In the future, if any packages are left for 3 or more days, we will send them back to the post office.”
Post office problems have only been exacerbated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which put its workers on the frontline and already strained finances in dire straits.
When the pandemic raged, New Yorkers across New York City reported halts in mail service as USPS battled to secure letter carriers personal protective equipment, or PPE.
But New Yorkers may not see a return to business as usual even as COVID-19 cases in the city decline.
Mail delivery nationwide could see a permanent slowdown under a new policy reportedly posed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that would see delayed carriers leaving mail behind.
Democrats have already raised concerns over what delayed mail delivery could mean for the November presidential election when COVID-19 could increase the amount of absentee votes cast.
And city dwellers face long lines as they obey social distancing measures in local post offices.
A mail inspector arrived Saturday and gave the okay for mail delivery to resume at 318 Warren St., according to the USPS spokesperson.
“Once the landlord had finished the installation in its entirely, we were able to reschedule the lock installation,” Gibbs said.
“The Postal Service thanks the residents of 318 Warren St. for their patience as we continue to flex our resources to meet demand.”
But while some letters have been returned, many — including the social work license — have yet to arrive.
Tenants wonder if the renovation was worth it.
“The original boxes had nothing wrong with them,” the would-be therapist said. “They’ve been making these cosmetic choices when fundamental things are wrong.”