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Inaccessible Living

"Was it that they didn’t think residents with disabilities deserved to live in luxury apartments, or did they simply not care?"


I woke up feeling a familiar fog. It was like lightning was bouncing through my body. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t call out for help, and I could only lay there until the pain subsided to a tolerable level. Today was a level 8.


Once I was able to move around, I packed my trolly cart and was quickly frustrated.


This is where my chair lives when I am not sitting in it.


my wheelchair stuck in the hall

image of inability to roll wheelchair

Not inside my home where I need it, but in the hallway. Why? Because the entire building is inaccessible to persons in wheelchairs. I can't hold the extremely heavy door open and wheel myself in at the same time. It also does help that the chair won't push over the ledge at the bottom of the door. It drives me crazy because it's such a simple solution, but I need permission to update it. The whole building is like this. The front doors, the amenities, to our personal apartment…nothing is accessible. There are keyfob entrances, not ZERO accessible entrances or exits; certainly not on the resident's doors. Mind you, a 1 bedroom is over $4,000…on the 2nd floor. You can imagine the rate up here on the 36th for a studio and up.


Jordan, who is like a brother to me, gets frustrated that I stay inside most of the time. He’s always reminding me that I can’t just go to Doctor Appts and a random hobble around the block once a month; that I need to really enjoy some outside time. I decided to show him what it’s like for me to get out of the building on a good day…let alone a day I’m experiencing severe pain. The irony is, being outside helps my pains, but it’s too darn complicated to get out of the doors.


Three weeks ago I’d lost feeling in one of my legs. I was able to catch onto the door frame to prevent myself from crashing onto the floor, but at the same time, the Apt door slammed on my fingers. For over a week, I could not grip, hold or lift anything. I didn’t bother to call my friend because it’s bad enough that he travels almost 2 hours to push me around. It boggles my mind how the building had a roundabout door, a regular door…and yet zero accessibility buttons.



image of non-ada apartment in nyc

"Title II (A) of the ADA states that buildings do not have to “take any action that would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the service, program, or activity in question or that would result in undue financial and administrative burdens.” Although not explicitly stated in the ADA, many businesses and city governments interpret Title II as the “grandfathering clause” claiming their business is “grandfathered in” when a building is built before a certain year to avoid making costly alterations and to preserve the history of the building." (B)




It’s frustrating because NYC has over 900,000 persons living with disabilities(1)…and yet only 36 of 147 (2) MTA stations are PARTIALLY accessible. Don’t get me started on the gaps and the uneven height…


mta train with large gap on platform

(3)


On one hand, I’m frustrated that the owners of my building have simply ignored my requests for accessible accommodations (I even offered to pay for it myself), but how can I blame them when the city is permitted to disregard the needs of its residents living with disabilities?


All over Manhattan, you see promotions and her talks about renovations. It would cost $8b to relocate MSG (4). Hudson Yards cost $25B (5). I wonder what it cost my building’s owners to completely renovate the building… and yet completely ignored the needs of residents. Was it that they didn’t think residents with disabilities deserved to live in luxury apartments or did they simply not care?


It’s not the building owner’s or the city’s fault that I have disabilities, but they are responsible for ensuring accommodations are made per ADA standards. The city and its landlords have zero problems charging high taxes and extremely high rents (for mediocre apartments), and yet we have to fight with them (sometimes even in court) for basic accommodations. At a minimum, New York City and its building owners need to honor accessibility needs because it is required by federal and state laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to the city's services, programs, and activities. This includes access to public transportation, buildings, and sidewalks, as well as information and communication.


Additionally, it is important for the city to ensure accessibility for moral and ethical reasons to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their abilities, can fully participate in and benefit from the opportunities and resources available in the city. 3% of over 11 THOUSAND (7) apartments is less than pathetic, and this city can and should do better.

Sustainability is the bare minimum.

THIS is where Eric Adams’, the current Mayor, attention should be, not dumping money into Omni Cards and Partying, but on the city’s housing, accessibilities, and mental health needs…but that’s an article for another day.


Now, I wouldn’t be me if I only complain, but didn’t offer a solution.


Solutions:

  • Enforce complete accessible standards

    • Automatic doors, etc

    • Penalty 10% tax

  • Enforce affordability for lower income or 10% tax penalty

  • Restrict companies from purchasing real estate per 5 accounts, per 5 years

  • Increase tax rate ½ of lease renewal rate. If they want to increase rent by 5%, then they are paying an additional 2.5% in taxes

  • Enforce paying management and admin staff as much as avg cost of monthly rent.


What this does is

  • Maintain healthy & sustainable measures

  • Prevent landlord abuse

  • Encourages Rental responsibility

To learn more, visit The Rent is Too Damn High




 


Sources



  1. https://www.cidny.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/ADA-at-26-in-NYC.pdf

  2. https://wheelchairtravel.org/new-york-city/public-transportation/

  3. Photo: Alexi J Rosenfeld/Getty Images

  4. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-madison-square-garden-penn-station-cuomo-hochul-20211120-4qwjqdf3dnhzlj5gs7vtohqo64-story.html

  5. https://shelterforce.org/2021/02/12/a-tale-of-two-developments-affordable-housing-or-subsidized-ultra-luxury/

  6. https://nypost.com/2022/08/22/eric-adams-calls-ny-times-silly-for-questioning-how-he-funds-partying/

  7. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/08/realestate/where-luxury-meets-accessibility.html


 


FAQ:

  1. What does accessibility mean?

    1. Accessibility is the practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible.

  2. Who needs accessibility?

    1. People who experience Mobility/Motor/Dexterity disabilities and have difficulty moving one or more parts of the body. Where web design and development is concerned, this usually involves a disability involving the hands and/or arms, and even visual and audio. It can include: Total or partial paralysis.

  3. Does being accessible cost a lot of money?

    1. Based on my research and experience making spaces ADA, the costs can range from $1k-$10k . it would highly depend on the current state of the environment that is being imporved.

    2. You may be able to obtain a free audit from your state’s office and/or beaccessible.com

  4. What to do if my landlord and/or employer are not meeting ADA standards?

    1. Before legal action, I always suggest attempting to communicate your needs. If you are ignored and/or dismissed, seek legal assistance

    2. You can reach the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-833-610-1264 (TTY).

    3. https://www.justice.gov/crt/us-department-housing-and-urban-development


 


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About the Author:

Paradise Rodriguez-Bordeaux

Founder/CEO

A Paradise Company / Catch A Falling Star Foundation

best-selling author, entrepreneur, and thought leader.

   Paradise Rodríguez-Bordeaux, the 2022 Human Rights Activist and the 2023 Innovative Leadership awards recipient, says,   

 "Sustainability is the bare minimum." 

    As an author, mentor, and mental health advocate, she is a passionate advocate for those who have faced adversity and discrimination in life. She has been a philanthropist for more than 15 years, giving back to her community by supporting organizations that provide solutions for poverty alleviation and social justice.  Her work as an innovator in business solutions led to the founding of...  Learn More

"We need to consistently produce effectively efficient solutions. 

This world, the communities, it's all of our responsibility. 

   Leaders HAVE to lead."





 

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