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NYCHA: No TV Dishes

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NYCHA: No TV Dishes

Postby consigliere » Mon Jun 16, 2003 10:44 am

The story below, by Reginald Patrick, appeared in the June 16, 2003 online edition of the Staten Island Advance:  
City tenants: No TV dishes
Housing residents told that satellite equipment could harm pedestrians, damage buildings
The satellite dish TV antenna, once the exclusive province of middle-class homeowners, has slowly made its way to public housing, where it is now the focus of a potentially rancorous tenant-landlord showdown.
Public housing residents, backed by tenant rights group, are aggressively asserting their right to install and maintain the latest equipment, allowing them to tune into hundreds of channels offering everything from sporting events to current movies.
But the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), charging the equipment is a danger to pedestrians and can damage the brickwork of buildings, wants all the satellite dishes removed.
There are almost 100 dishes at public housing in Staten Island alone.
With the authority operating 345 developments citywide and housing more than 600,000 New Yorkers, it is estimated that several thousand families may now have satellite dishes.
The dishes began appearing on the sides of developments in the late 1990s and the authority appeared to take little notice of the metallic disks at the time.
But in a form letter sent out to tenants last week, the authority lays out a startling ultimatum: All antennas must come down before the end of this month.
Any resident refusing to remove their dish will be considered in violation of their lease and subject to possible eviction, though a NYCHA spokesman said he doubted the authority would actually have to resort to booting people out over the equipment.
Howard Marder said the authority fully expects tenants to avoid legal action. But the form letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Advance, clearly states:
"Any resident refusing to remove their satellite antenna will be in violation of the lease agreement and termination of tenancy action will be immediately instituted."
Tenants with the service say their antennas have been up for years and were originally installed with either the tacit or overt approval of local housing management.
They also insist dishes result in no more damage to the brickwork than regular cable, in which holes must be drilled in walls to accommodate lines. Moreover, they say, there have been no cases on record of antennae falling off structures and injuring anyone.
At the Mariners Harbor Houses, where 57 families have installed dishes over the past five years, the NYCHA crackdown has triggered a growing protest.
Kiko Charles, president of the Mariners Harbor Tenants Association, said families are "understandably outraged" because they had the equipment put in with the full approval of the management office, a situation duplicated at other projects.
As recently as last year, she said, the heads of tenants groups asked management if the dishes were OK and were given the green light.
"What's happening here now is clearly unfair," said Michael McKee, associate director of the New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition, a statewide rights group. "I see no reason why the authority would not allow these dishes to remain. Why are they considered dangerous at this point? That's just ridiculous."
Legal Aid Society attorney Judith Goldiner, an expert on Housing Authority law, said "its not unusual for the Housing Authority to take unreasonable positions -- and this may be an example of that."
She did note that under a new leasing agreement the authority has included a provision calling for the elimination of "any type of antennae" on buildings, but clearly has the option of not rigorously enforcing the provision at this point -- certainly not with the threat of evicting non-compliant families.
"I really don't know why they're pressing the point right now," she said. "They've got so many other pressing problems they should be dealing with, like finding ways to better maintain the buildings and to make them safer places to live. That just seems a better way to spend money rather than trying to evict tenants."
But she flatly warned: "If the authority does try to take people to court to evict them for this, they're going to be hard pressed to find a judge that will go along with it."
Marder, the NYCHA spokesman, when asked why the crackdown is coming now after years of allowing the dishes, replied: "We look at this kind of thing on a routine basis. When we noticed it was happening more and more, we decided we were just going to tell everybody we were going to enforce our policy against antennae."
There are 98 dishes in projects here, including 57 at Mariners Harbor; one at the Berry Houses; one at the Richmond Terrace Houses; six at the South Beach Houses; two at the Stapleton Houses and 31 at the West Brighton Houses.
Mariners Harbor Houses resident Robin Miles, a 39-year-old pregnant mother of four now receiving $550 a month in unemployment insurance, said she had a Direct TV satellite dish installed three years back at a cost of several hundred dollars and is now paying about $85 a month for the service.
Ms. Miles and her children, who range in age from 6 to 15, have access to several hundred channels, including seven HBO stations. She said her ex-fiancee pays for the service. "This is really a luxury I can't personally afford," she explained.
But she is adamant about keeping the premium service. She said management at the time gave full approval when it was installed in 2000.
"And my dish doesn't damage the building or create any safety problems," she insisted. "It's attached to the windowsill near the air conditioner and I've got it strapped in place with a cable so it can't fall."
While one of her children played a video-game in a front room, she showed a reporter where the metal disc was attached to a windowsill in a back bedroom. "As you can see, this couldn't fall off and injury anybody," Ms. Miles said.
On Thursday afternoon, project manager Leonard Danquah held a closed-door meeting with Kiko Charles, Ms. Miles, who lives on Roxbury Street, and several other families with dishes but was unable to offer them any hopeful word on the issue of satellite dishes.
According to Ms. Miles, Danquah didn't even want to get into the issue, explaining the order had come down from the authority's central office.
Immediately after the meeting, Ms. Miles, a former nurses aide, reflecting the frustration of other tenants, vowed to fight the directive.
"They're just going to have to evict me," she vowed, noting that she had to lay out several hundred to get the Direct TV service installed.
But later in the day, she had cooled down, saying: "I guess my kids are just going to have to do without television." But she predicted the issue was not quietly going away. "This is just the start," she said. "You haven't heard the last of this."
Ronald Collins, a resident of Lockman Avenue, said his dish has been up for the past four years and is "mounted on the child protection bars on the window so it's not damaging the wall." Collins, a retired city worker now getting a pension, said he pays $51 for the Direct TV service. He said: "I could understand the housing authority objecting if this were damaging the building, but it isn't."
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Re: NYCHA: No TV Dishes

Postby consigliere » Mon Jun 16, 2003 5:05 pm

The FCC rules allow satellite dishes to be installed and maintained on property which is under the exclusive control of the tenant.
In an apartment building, that would probably be limited to a balcony. Even in the case of a balcony, the tenant would be wise to mount the satellite dish on a mast located in a planter or other large base, rather than attach the satellite dish or mast to any part of the balcony itself.
And the tenant should also be careful in running the satellite cable from the balcony into the apartment, and, if possible, should avoid drilling holes in the walls of the building or even in the window frames.  
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