The Washington Post published an investigative piece this past weekend examining the deplorable conditions at the single room occupancy (SRO) residence at 331 E. 12th St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.
The facility, above the Educational Alliance's Sirovich Center, which is currently closed, provides housing for formerly homeless single adults and veterans age 55 and up run by Volunteers of America of Greater New York, an affiliate of the national housing-focused nonprofit based in Alexandria, Va., and subsidized by government agencies.
Here's some content from the Post about the facility during the COVID-19 crisis:
According both to tenants and images viewed by The Post, sanitary conditions are poor, social-distancing has been lax and food is scarce. Residents described their situation as a ticking coronavirus time bomb, with even basic protective tools absent; never mind gloves and masks, there has not even been soap or toilet paper in the shared bathrooms.
On Saturday, their fears seemed to have been realized. A man, believed to be in his early 60′s, was found dead in his room by another tenant, according to a resident who was present on the site. An empty ambulance could be seen idling outside the building Saturday afternoon; by evening, it had been replaced by a city-morgue van. No cause of death was immediately available, but the man had been complaining of trouble breathing in recent days, said one tenant. He added that the man had not received any medical attention, and was seen as recently as Thursday mingling with other residents in the facility’s common area.
The Post notes that VOA-GNY runs it under a contract with the city’s Department of Homeless Services, and that the 92 rooms are "filled with former lawyers and veterans, stockbrokers and city workers, each with their own story of how they fell on hard times to end up here."
Though just one of what advocates say is a litany of problem spots in the New York area, the 12th Street SRO illustrates how coronavirus is endangering a whole class of people. The scene lacks the dramatic optics of a hospital lobby filled with patients on ventilators. But a closer look at its images — an elderly woman without food, a cancer patient deprived of basic cleaning necessities — tells both of the forsaken vulnerable in a besieged city and the people who have left them behind.
Joshua Goodman, a spokesperson for Kathryn Garcia, New York City's emergency food czar during the COVID-19 crisis, told the Post that the 12th Street SRO would now be moved to a new food-delivery program that will see residents receiving a four-meal box every other day.
A four-meal box did arrive for the residents on Friday afternoon.