Thousands of Knickerbocker Village residents in Chinatown are still without electricity, heat, hot water, internet and other vital services. This complex is not public housing. Angry residents
charge that the building’s owners and managers have been negligent in their response to hurricane Sandy, and also callous and indifferent to suffering residents. Especially insulting is the pandering and condescending way in which management and owners treat the Chinese speaking tenants.
One dismayed tenant said “The day after Sandy, a couple of guys wearing sweatpants arrived with a van and a few small pumps. They worked for a few hours in one area, then disconnected the pump and went to another spot. It was a joke! It was obvious management wanted to save money. As of today, there is still only one functioning pump. The slow pump out allowed sea water to cause further damage to the building’s electrical and mechanical systems.
Garbage was is piled up in front of buildings up until a few days ago. Management made no effort to communicate with residents until over a week after the storm. Confused security guards had no information from Owners or Management to give anxious residents. Volunteers with badly needed supplies were turned away the first few days and told to vacate the premises. One management official was overheard telling tenants that they should be grateful for the money spent on folding tables for a “warming room” set up over a week after the hurricane.
Another resident complained that Vincent Callagy, General Manager at Knickerbocker, called the police to harass a tenant who was taking photos of the devastation. James Simmons, Vice-President of a “shadowy group of owners”, has not been seen. Residents want an inquiry into the business practices of the owners. High powered lawyers in expensive suits have been seen entering and leaving the building management’s office.
Residents are also frustrated with managements inability and indifference towards using emails or texts to communicate information to residents, staff and relief agencies. FEMA and other aid organizations have stepped in to fill the lack of communication by Owners. As of today, Owners and Management have not given tenants an idea of when power will be restored. Instead, they say “we are all in this together”,“it’s an old building” and” it was a big storm”. These excuses aren’t enough for suffering families and elderly people who feel Owners had ample time to instruct management to make basic, intelligent preparations. But they didn't want to spend the money.