Radio Story- New York City Housing in the COVID-19 Era

Host Intro: With COVID-19 in full throttle, the constant worrying of New Yorkers rises. Worrying that I might add is justifiable given that other media outlets like The New York Times are stating that most COVID-19 cases are in the U.S. Estimated Number for the United States: 636,700 cases and the number continues to rise.

Among those concerns include, mental stability, healthcare access and financial burden lifted as well

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has recently extended PAUSE order he placed on New York State. April 15 was the hopeful goal and now May 15 is the new light at the end of the end of the tunnel. People in low-income neighborhood are being hit the hardest from COVID-19.

Many job industries will be halted in terms of production. The New York City Housing Authority is no exception.

Baruch College’s Jahlil Rush has more on the story

TRACK 1: With Essential Businesses on the frontlines and non-essential businesses on the sidelines, the economy is in a frenzy. Now While NYCHA is considered an essential business, many NYCHA residents and workers are concern about the treatment that they are being given during this pandemic. Listen to CBS 2 New York’s Jenna DeAngelis as she spoke to two anonymous NYCHA employees, one who has claimed to have contracted the Coronavirus while on the job and believed that NYCHA was not protecting them properly.

Reminder: the NYCHA employee chose to remain anonymous due to fear of facing professional retaliation.

AMBI: CBS 2 New York NYCHA Report
– Employee 1: They’re not supplying us with the proper equipment, safety equipment… My Fear was getting sick. But even bigger fear is being asymptomatic, not knowing it spreading it.

– Employee 2: I contracted this Coronavirus from my job. They didn’t give properly give us any PPES and still has us going into apartments.

TRACK 2: I spoke to NYCHA Clerical Associate, Rita Mccawthan. Mccawthan explains how NYCHA how responded to the coronavirus from her point of view and whether she believed NYCHA offices should have closed permanently or not. She also clarifies what steps has department has taken to ensure safety of their remaining employees during the COVID-19 Crisis

ACT 1: “Basically, you know my position is; My position is Clerical Worker. As precaution, we all wear mask in the office, we all wear gloves in the office, we do the social distance of being six feet apart in the office. We don’t necessarily congregate with each other unless we have to.”

ACT 1: “As far as the tenants as concern, we try our best to not have them come into the office but that is easier said than done because the tenants still do come into the office. We have letters on the doors and everything stating ‘that due to coronavirus, we’re trying our best to keep the social distance between everybody and protect everybody just as well as protect ourselves in the office but also try to protect you. Se we’re telling you to please stay in the house as much as possible.”
Track 3: As the interview went on, Mccawthan also clarified her importance as an essential worker and how her office further adjusted to social distancing.

ACT 1: “We on the frontline lines too. We’re considered essential workers. So yeah, I do have to go to work and then you have some that do work from home, but it depends on what their positions are. If their housing assistants, yeah some of them work from home. Some of them come to work then they switch up. Some of them work from home, the other ones that didn’t at home they work in the office. They switch up the other days. They go home and the other ones come in. So, we do try to take as much precautions as possible. You know, everything that we can try our best to do but again we also try our best to protect our tenants as well. We deal with the tenants more or less on the phone than allowing them to come into the office if they don’t have to. The only way we are really allowing them to come into office if they have an appointment where they really need to talk to them and THEN they’re not allow to go into the housing assistant office. They have to be talked to from the window in the waiting area.

TRACK 4: Mccawthan was also asked whether or not her department in NYCHA was supplying her with the essentials that she and the other employees needed. Here is her response:

ACT 1: “They give us mask; They give us gloves; But I also bring my own too. They also give us wipe. When the wipes run out, I still buy my own. I add on to whatever they give me. So, it not like with my job I’m just sitting there and I’m wide-open and I have nothing wipe my desk down with or the phones that I’m on. Even though I’m on that phone, the other secretary has to use that phone, the other secretary behind her has to use that phone. So, if you don’t have what they call earplugs to wear. For me we try to use the speakerphone rather than to always pick up the phone of we don’t have to. But again, sometimes you can’t hear…or so should I say the tenants don’t seem to hear us. So, we do pick up the phone. But we wipe it down on an everyday basis

Track 5: We moved the topic over to whether or not NYCHA should have completely shut down and how with limited resources how prioritizing takes center stage.

ACT 1: “To be honest with you No I not gonna say they should close all the way around and the reason why is because there’s no guaranteed you can’t get it if you’re sitting in your own household. You understand? So, you definitely have to take the necessary precautions that are thrown out for us to take, which is basically cover up and that’s the best we can you. If you tell us to stay home on a regular basis, you won’t have nobody there to try to keep the facilities as clean as possible, you won’t have nobody there to deal with repairs and then what you’re gonna have the tenants screaming out ‘NYCHA Doesn’t do this, NYCHA Don’t do that’. They already say NYCHA doesn’t do half the things that they want. But because of the coronavirus, we Definitely can’t do all the things that they want
the maintenance people can’t go into certain apartments depends on what the nature of the problem is.

TRACK 6: Lastly, she explained how despite the limited resources NYCHA has, how her department prioritizes what is important when it comes to the tenants and their issues in their homes

ACT 1: “It’s not that Housing is picking and choosing what tickets they want to. But the top priority one that have to be done. Top priority means that if your stove is about to blow up, they gotta go find out why that stove is about to blow up before 911 gets there if 911 don’t have to come. But you got stoppages, you got sinks running over, they gonna go do that. But even the ones that are not top priority, they try their best to get to you. But like I said, you can’t send everybody’s apartment. This is what we can’t do and its only because of what we are going through because of this coronavirus.”

Conclusion Track: NYCHA sent an email on March 13 instructing employees to ask tenants if they were infected with COVID 19 and to only enter if it is an emergency. While NYCHA refused to speak to CBS 2 on air, they were told that they received 10,000 new masks that have since been distributed to staff with more on the way. For Baruch College, Im Jahlil Rush

New Radio Pitch Story

My Radio Story will focus on NYCHA Housing Workers who have to still come into work. Some business are being forced to stay open despite the COVID-19 growing worse each day. There are considered “Essential Businesses”

NYCHA Housing is one of those Essential businesses but some NYCHA Workers believe that they should stay home as well. While some are on the field, cleaning buildings, other work from Office- like environments, where bacteria are usually spread.

Photo Essay Idea

My Idea for a Photo Story is all about the proposed BQX Transit Car that is being developed for Brooklyn-Queens transportation connection.

Reason for Story Idea: I part-time live in the Downtown Brooklyn area to be more specific I live right next door to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is sometimes referred to as a “city within a city“. I am surprised by how well the neighborhood has changed.  I discovered the downtown Brooklyn neighborhood has its own Instagram account. I notice more and more shops and apartments are being developed. I recently saw an Instagram post on a proposed futuristic redesign of a known street (Fulton Mall) that I walk on almost every day. One day I stumbled upon an Instagram post on a series of town hall meetings that are pushing for a Transit Street Car that would connect Red Hook, Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens.

This particular story would be interesting to readers that are interested in Architect and Technology advancement in NYC.