Open Letter to Search for Change (Mental Health Housing): SPOA service, and DCMH

Today I received a certified letter from my apartment building’s management company stating there is noise emanating from my studio during the day and late night hours. Without question, my neighbors directly underneath my studio contacted the management company and lodged a complaint. These are the same neighbors that moved in to the building in May, and have been banging at their ceiling, my floor, every night at 1, 2, & 3 am without cause, or justification. Sometimes, I am sleeping and wake up the banging at the floorboards. I have already called the police and made a report regarding the noise. I did this after my neighbors were banging at my door at 2 am, again, without cause of provocation, so loudly I almost had a heart-attack. For a person that has heard voices, and suffered from auditory hallucinations, banging at my apartment, either the floor or my door can be very disturbing.

The same disturbing behavior the letter describes referring to the noise in my apartment the neighbors have been enacting for months now. I have been complaining to my super, who has in turn, poked fun at my weight, and stated: “You walk around a lot”. Again, I am allowed to walk around my apartment at anytime of day or night. This is not a disturbing behavior. It is my god-given right to move about freely and without restriction in my own apartment.

When this first began, and my neighbors were knocking at my door, in June of this year, I was first disturbed. I was sleeping in bed and at 12 am, there was loud knocking at the door. When I looked through the peep-hole, two people, both a man and a woman were at the door. I did not recognize them, and didn’t open the door. My super appeared at my door the next day, and told me, the people whom moved into the apartment directly underneath me, had lodged a complaint against me, for “moving around too much and making noise with my feet”. The super was resistant to reason, and when I said Ive been here for over five years and never heard a complaint before and that, again, I am allowed to walk freely in my own apartment without restriction, and that showing up at my door is both intrusive and jarring and harassment, he did seem to understand my point. I have since sought out the super, over, and over again, and re-explained my point, in clear and simple terms, and no solution or answer was provided to me, except that, again, I am overweight, and my feet make a lot of noise when I walk in the apartment.

Since this problem has persisted, I have complained, from its inception, to the agency that handles my housing, search for change. A month after Search for Change took over my lease, this problem began. I have been explaining my problem to my housing case manager since June. The housing case manager spoke to my super, and then, performed a “walk though” in my apartment, to inspect its status, and follow up with the complaint lodged against me. Every month, or so, I have been leaving messages with my housing case manager, stating that the problem, the banging, continues to persist, and that it continues to disturb me. Just last week, I called my case manager, and told her in very clear terms, the banging is so disturbing most nights I sleep at my parents home. I requested, during that call, to move out, and wanted to run away from the problem. My case manger said there were no other apartments available and that I could only move if there was a real problem.

The fact of the matter is, there is a problem. But the problem isn’t mine. Search for change, and my case manager, are required by law to document every phone call, house visit, and complaint I lodge or is lodged against me. So, in addition to the police report I have when I called 911, after another round of banging from the apartment below, when I was writing another blog entry like this one. Jarred by banging at my door, I also have progress notes in Search for Change’s EHR system, their record keeping system, with written documentation of the times I have complained and their follow up to monitor the situation in my building.

Today, when I opened my mail, the first time in three weeks. Sitting in pile of letters and flyers was a letter from my the management companies legal office, advising me to stop the noise or my lease was in violation and could be terminated. At this point in time, I find that I am being harassed by my neighbors and more importantly, will not run, leave my apartment, or be a victim to this behavior. While I am the victim tonight, in the end, I will not be the object of behavior that not only puts my mental health in jeopardy, but my well-being, and livelihood as a tenant with over five years of stable housing in this apartment.

This behavior has been witnessed by not only my housing team at Search for Change, but other mental health providers, both friends, and professionals, including my therapist, or colleagues in the field whom have visited my apartment during both day and night time hours, whom have heard my neighbors banging at the floorboards and disturbing me in the apartment. These parties are willing to testify to the behavior they have witnessed, and will be signing releases of information HIPPA’s so they can report on the behavior without breaching my mental health privacy with my total consent and permission.

Moving forward, I will be contacting the county office of community mental health (DCMH), which oversees Search for Change, and regulates the housing program in Westchester. If the problem does not stop, and this complaint mailed to me is not retracted, I will take this issue directly to county mental health, and let them handle the situation directly. I will not be the subject of interrogation of Pan Am Equities Lawyers, or the object of harassment from my neighbors. Instead, I will continue to advocate for myself, contact friends, family, and post this letter openly on my blog, Mental Health Affairs (mentalhealthaffairs.blog) so the public can be aware and mobilize with me to put and end to months of ongoing harassment without further delay.

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