Hit hard by Sandy, then again by housing agency

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In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of low- and fixed-income public housing residents were trapped in storm-damaged buildings — without power, heat or running water — for up to three weeks. Yet the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) expects rent payments upfront and in full, acknowledging no responsibility for the serious health, safety and financial toll its negligence continues to take on residents.

Here's the letter we'll send to NYCHA Chairman John Rhea on your behalf. You can add a personal comment using the box to the right.

Public housing residents are being charged full rent after being abandoned by your agency for up to three weeks without power, heat or running water in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. While NYCHA has pledged to issue a rent credit for days spent without basic services — in January of 2013 — the agency's timeframe fails to appropriately address the immediate needs of families still reeling from the storm.

Low- and fixed-income residents are struggling with devastating unexpected costs incurred from lost work hours, transit disruptions, and efforts to replace damaged and spoiled clothing, household items, food and medication. And NYCHA's severely delayed response to initial flooding not only dragged out the weeks until essential services could be restored — keeping residents in a frightening limbo cut off from the outside world as freezing winter temperatures closed in — but also significantly increased the lasting damage to residents' homes and common areas.

NYCHA has a responsibility to its residents to abate the damage caused by its inaction, and shouldn't be taking steps to compound residents' hardship. I urge you to immediately suspend rent collection in affected public housing developments and reimburse residents for payments already made.

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