Man trapped in elevator at NYC shelter run by Cuomo’s sister

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A broken elevator at a troubled Manhattan homeless shelter run by disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sister trapped a man inside for as many as four nights before he was finally rescued by the FDNY, The Post has learned.

The outrageous incident took place at the HELP Meyer Mental Health +Shelter on Wards Island, where the city pays more than $5,300 a month each to house 200 single men in 95 dorm-style rooms.

The shelter is one of 24 operated by HELP USA, a nonprofit organization that grew out of one founded by Cuomo in 1986 and which has been headed by his sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, since 1993.

HELP USA has a five-year, $63.7 million contract with the city Department of Homeless Services to manage HELP Meyer through June 2023, according to information posted on the city comptroller’s website.

The trapped man became severely dehydrated during his ordeal, sources said, and the FDNY said he was taken to Harlem Hospital in serious but not life-threatening condition after he was freed around 10 a.m. Sunday.

Shelter residents have filed as many as 11 complaints on the bad elevators with little to no response.
Gregory P. Mango

The FDNY said he spent “some time” waiting for help to arrive and sources said it may have included four nights.

Department of Buildings records show that since 2018, shelter residents have filed at least four complaints — and as many as 11 — about the elevators in the state-owned facility that houses HELP Meyer on its sixth, seventh and eighth floors.

Maria Cuomo Cole drives into his driveway at 1619 Purchase Street in Westchester in Harrison Township., NY.
Maria Cuomo Cole, ex-Gov. Andrew’s sister, operates the deteriorating HELP Meyer Mental Health +Shelter as part of a city contract.
Kevin C. Downs

A shelter resident, Horace Clay, 45, said he’s been forced to wait hours for an elevator so he can leave the sixth floor where he lives.

“I have osteoarthritis in my hips and I have always had issues with these elevators, which is a safety issue for me. I cannot do the stairs,” Clay said.

“You can call 311, make all the complaints you want, but they don’t get things done here.”

Broken elevators inside the HELP Meyer Mental Health Shelter at Wards Island, where a man spent as many as four nights trapped before being rescued on Sunday.
The man trapped on the broken elevator became severely dehydrated and needed temporary hospitalization.
Broken elevators inside the HELP Meyer Mental Health Shelter at Wards Island, where a man spent as many as four nights trapped before being rescued on Sunday.
Residents say the elevators are constantly out of order.

Another resident, Alexis Silvagnoli, 55, said, “At least once a day you’re forced to use the stairs because the elevators don’t come.”

“There are people in here with wheelchairs. How are they going to get out in an emergency with no elevators?” he said.

A HELP USA spokesman blamed the situation on the state Office of Mental Health, saying the state agency — which leases the space for the shelter — was “responsible for elevator maintenance” and answering distress calls.

Homeless shelter resident Horace Clay of the HELP Meyer Mental Health +Shelter on Wards Island.
Homeless shelter resident Horace Clay says nothing is done to fix the elevators at the HELP Meyer Mental Health +Shelter.
Gregory P. Mango

The OMH said it was “not advised that the maintenance company was servicing the elevator or taking it off-line on the date in question” but declined to elaborate.

In 2019, the website “The City” revealed heat and water problems at Meyer and the “Curbed” website last month quoted residents who complained about a lack of ventilation, with one calling it “the most depressing place you could ever be.”

Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy, Jack Morphet and Bernadette Hogan

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