Switch By Mott Haven Building Management Catches Many Technology-Challenged Tenants By Surprise

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There seems to be a phone app for everything.

But one in particular is causing issues for dozens of senior citizens in the South Bronx.

They’ll need it to receive their rent bills, but many simply don’t know how to use the technology, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported Tuesday.

Gloria Rodriguez has lived in her Mott Haven apartment at the OUB housing complex for almost 30 years. It has everything she needs, or at least she thought it did.

“They’re changing everything so fast,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has a desk, but there’s no computer on it. She doesn’t have a cellphone, either. So the 77-year-old is clueless as to how she will figure out what her rent bill is, because starting June 1 building management is doing it all online, leaving many senior tenants outraged.

“I don’t think it’s right because I want my receipt. I want to know who I sent my rent to and I want a receipt back that I paid my rent,” tenant Geraldine Cruz said.

Even residents who have a tablet or smartphone said being forced to do everything online is a problem.

“Having to go through the internet, not a lot of people can do it,” tenant Aida Reyes said.

In a notice, the building’s management company, Acacia Network, told tenants they can still mail or drop off their rent checks, meaning they will have no issue “paying.” It’s just that tenants will never know how much they owe or if management received the rent, unless they download and sign up for the “Rent Café” app.

“This opens the door for tenants who may fall behind on their rent,” tenant association president Lillian Marrero said.

Marrero said she fears this is management’s way of trying to kick out the seniors. Most receive government assistance and sometimes their rent varies. It’s not always a set rate.

“Right now, we have many tenants whose subsidies have been suspended or terminated and the’re not aware until they get a call into management,” Marrero said.

Hopefully, it won’t lead to eviction. For now, these tenants said they’ll see management… in court.

CBS2 reached out to building management and even stopped by the corporate office for a comment, but they haven’t been willing to give us their side of the story.