Hun­dreds of doors left wide open, even in projects where po­lice have tried to stem spikes in crime


Hun­dreds of NYCHA apart­ment build­ings are vul­ner­a­ble to un­wanted in­trud­ers due to door locks that are tam­pered with or sim­ply bro­ken, a re­port re­leased Fri­day by city Con­troller Scott Stringer found.

Stringer’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors vis­ited 299 of the New York City Hous­ing Au­thor­ity’s 320 de­vel­op­ments and found at least one dis­abled door at 195 com­plexs spread through­out all five bor­oughs.

Some of those de­vel­op­ments have ex­pe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant spikes in crime this year. One of them is on a list of 15 high-crime projects tar­geted and as­signed ex­tra cops by the NYPD and Mayor de Bla­sio.

Dur­ing their vis­its across the city last sum­mer, Stringer’s team checked out 4,551 doors. With nearly one of ev­ery four — 1,023 en­trance, side or rear doors — they found an alarm­ing lack of se­cu­rity that would al­low any­one to come or go.

Doors were propped open with ropes or chains. Locks were bro­ken or oth­er­wise dam­aged. NYCHA’s doors rely on pow­er­ful mag­nets in­stead of tra­di­tional door locks, and in­ves­ti­ga­tors found a pat­tern of tam­per­ing. Doors didn’t latch prop­erly and could be eas­ily pushed open. The door mag­nets, in some cases, were ei­ther re­moved or sim­ply no longer func­tioned.

At some of these de­vel­op­ments with lax se­cu­rity, crime has been on the rise.

At John­son Houses in East Har­lem in­ves­ti­ga­tors found 15 of 17 front doors open and 11 of 14 rear ex­its un­locked dur­ing a July visit. John­son has ex­pe­ri­enced a 77.8% in­crease in crime this year through Oct. 7 with the num­ber of ma­jor crimes ris­ing from 18 to 32. That in­cludes a dou­bling of rob­beries from four to nine, ac­cord­ing to NYPD statis­tics.

King Tow­ers in Har­lem, where probers found all 10 front doors wide open in July, has had a 25% spike in crime so far this year, in­clud­ing a jump in the num­ber of as­saults from 15 to 20 and a dou­bling of grand larce­nies from five to 10, po­lice records show.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors even found 14 of 25 front doors open at Pat­ter­son Houses in the Bronx, one of the 15 de­vel­op­ments tar­geted by the NYPD in an an­ti­crime ini­tia­tive with ex­tra cops and se­cu­rity lights known as the Mayor’s Ac­tion Plan. Since 2014, that plan has steered $140 mil­lion to the spe­cific de­vel­op­ments and over­all crime has dropped by 11% there.

“All New York­ers should feel safe in their own home, but hun­dreds of bro­ken latches, busted locks, and doors held open by chains and rope leave NYCHA fam­i­lies with­out that ba­sic sense of se­cu­rity,” said Stringer. “Un­se­cured doors are un­ac­cept­able. NYCHA must promptly se­cure, re­pair and re­place bro­ken doors.”

On Fri­day a Daily News re­porter dis­cov­ered sev­eral

doors propped open at King Tow­ers — one with a wooden block, an­other tied back with plas­tic bags, and an­other jammed open with re­li­gious pam­phlets ti­tled “Our Daily Bread.” Ten­ants said they were forced to jury-rig the doors open be­cause they didn’t have enough keys or the in­ter­com doesn’t func­tion.

“What they need to do is fix the in­ter­com,” said Her­bert Smith Jr., 63, who has lived in the same Kings Tower build­ing since he was 10. “They need some­where to get in, so they put the block there. And they jam it.”

Ray­mond Cash, 66, said the open door is an in­vi­ta­tion to drug users who clus­ter in the lobby.

“They use the lobby like a liv­ing room,” he said. “There’s dust heads in here. A lot of peo­ple don’t feel safe.”

At the Ran­gel Houses in Wash­ing­ton Heights, a door wouldn’t close af­ter some­one had tried to jam ob­jects into it and it no longer fit into the frame. An­other door was propped open by a trash can.

““The doors are al­ways open, the el­e­va­tors are al­ways bro­ken. I’m tired of this,” said a tenant who didn’t want to be named. “It’s al­ways some­one who lets some­one in.”

In a series of let­ters to NYCHA’s in­terim Chair­man Stan­ley Brezenoff, Deputy Con­troller Mar­jorie Landa warned that the au­thor­ity could be in vi­o­la­tion of city rules re­quir­ing land­lords to en­sure their en­try doors are se­cure.

“From our daily work re­view­ing and re­pair­ing doors, we know that door dam­age has a va­ri­ety of causes, from wear and tear to tam­per­ing,” NYCHA spokes­woman Jas­mine Blake said. “We will con­tinue to in­spect and re­pair doors ur­gently, and ask for our res­i­dents’ help in vig­i­lantly re­port­ing door dam­age when­ever they see it.”

At 61 de­vel­op­ments, Stringer’s team found more than half the doors were un­se­cure, while nearly half of all en­trance doors — 1,651 of 3,538 — had no work­ing se­cu­rity cam­eras.

Dur­ing a July 10 visit to the Ran­gel Houses in Wash­ing­ton Heights, they found all nine en­trance doors were open. None of the Ran­gel build­ings had se­cu­rity cam­eras at their en­trances.

Over­all Man­hat­tan was par­tic­u­larly bad, with more than half the doors left un­se­cured in 32 de­vel­op­ments. But the prob­lem plagues the outer bor­oughs, too.

At the Al­bany Houses in Brook­lyn, an Au­gust trip found five of nine front doors open and cam­eras at only two of the doors. There’s been a 66.7% spike in crime there so far this year. And at Be­tances Houses in the Bronx, all six front doors were open dur­ing a July visit. So far this year there’s been a 34.8% jump in crime there, in­clud­ing the num­ber of felony as­saults nearly dou­bling from eight to 15, ac­cord­ing to NYPD stat­stics.

Any­one can just stroll into the main en­trance (above) to the Ran­gel Houses in Wash­ing­ton Heights Fri­day af­ter­noon. An­other door at the same site (top inset) is propped open, as are doors at King Tow­ers (right and op­po­site page) in Har­lem.

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