Furious residents of a 1,200-unit apartment complex in Harlem are doing everything they can to stave off a new security system that would require them to swipe a photo ID card every time they come home.
Tenants of 3333 Broadway and several elected officials are fighting the implementation of the new security system, saying that it would limit their movement through the complex’s five towers and amount to an invasion of privacy.
“It would be like a prison,” said Alicia Barksdale, president of the 3333 Broadway Tenants Association. “They aren’t locking people out; it’s like they’re locking us in.”
The proposed system would require the 5,000-plus residents to carry a photo ID for entry into the complex. Tenants would be limited to their own building and would have to use an intercom system — which they say is frequently broken — to sign in their visitors.
“They’re confining us to our apartments and outside, that’s it,” said Barksdale, who has lived in the building since it opened in 1976. “If you want to have more security, then hire more people and pay them.”
Tenants staged a 12-hour protest and rally on Monday, and say they have gathered more than 1,500 petition signatures expressing opposition to the new system.
The ID system has prompted questions about potential breakdowns and dodgy access for emergency workers, not to mention the residents’ privacy.
“It’s none of their business when I come and go,” said Lugena Whitfield, a tenant who attended Monday’s rally. “People are fearful because you need to put your picture, name and address on the ID.”
Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright agreed, saying that an apartment complex is “not Kennedy Airport.”
“Nobody needs to know who’s coming into your house,” Wright added. “There’s no reason you have to show ID.”
Representatives from Urban American Management, the West New York, N.J.-based company that manages the complex, insist that their main objective is to keep residents safe.
“We take the security of our residents very seriously,” said Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Urban American. “(The ID system) is designed simply to make the premises safer and more secure for the people living in the building.”
DePlasco said that a similar system, installed two years ago at an Urban American building on Fifth Ave. and 110th St., was well-received by residents.
“It will only be used to prevent strangers and outsiders from gaining unauthorized access,” DePlasco said.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer wrote to Urban American, expressing his “deep concerns” for the system’s reliability.
“Residents (of the 110 St. building) have reported having to use side entrances and stairs to reach their apartments when the picture identification swipe card system fails,” Stringer wrote, urging the company to re-evaluate the proposed system.
The president of the tenants association at the building on 110th St., Faheem Ababdqr-Rabbaaq, said that the photo swipe system has been plagued by glitches since it was installed.
“The doors break a lot and it doesn’t open, and people get stuck outside quite often,” he said. “I don’t know anybody who is in favor of it.”
As for why Urban American said the IDs are a hit with the residents, Ababdqr-Rabbaaq has one answer. “Plain and simple, they made it up. ”