NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An 82-year-old Bronx woman who is still afraid to go outside due to the pandemic says the city is taking advantage of her situation.
She’s been issued nearly $1,000 in sanitation summonses, and she says she has proof that shows agents were never even there.READ MORE: NYPD Lieutenant Shot In Ankle Apprehending Suspect In The Bronx
“I feel like I’m really going to have a stroke if I have to keep going through this,” Wakefield homeowner Bernice Alston told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
Alston is in distress over a bill for more than $600 she recently received from a collections agency. It was only then that she learned the Department of Sanitation issued her two tickets for litter 18 inches from the curb on the side of her home, which faces busy Pitman Avenue.
The tickets were issued in May and June of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“My doctor put me on shelter-at-home. They mailed me my medication,” Alston said. “I wanna see 82 more years, and the last thing I need to do is be out there sweeping up other people’s garbage.”
She says she’s only left home to vote and get vaccinated. Even now, she says her neighbor is getting her groceries.
She just got in the mail two more sanitation tickets from June 2021.
Her Ring camera from that day in June shows no sanitation officer in the video, but the ticketing supervisor wrote, “I did observe piece(s) of paper, tissue(s), wrappers scattered within the 18 inch curb line.”
“They know, because this is their territory, they know my age and they know how long I’ve been here,” Alston said. “I think they sit home and write tickets and put them in the mail and mail them to me.”
It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the trash. Neighbors even come by regularly to keep an eye and keep up, but it’s still not enough.READ MORE: Justice Department Says Russians Hacked Federal Prosecutors
“It’s unfair because strangers walk by, whoever, passerbys, they’ll just dump their garbage anywhere on the block,” neighbor Sharon Burnett said.
“A lot of time, I see it, a lot of cars park on that side and people just throw garbage on the street,” neighbor Donald Loveridge said.
And under the cars, where it’s hard to see the litter.
The tickets have multiplied in price with the city claiming she never showed up for hearings, but Alston points out the city appeals courts have been closed.
A sanitation spokesperson says it’s looking into her case, but that enforcement of many offenses was suspended or reduced throughout the height of the pandemic.
“They just wanna suck your blood,” Alston said. “I can’t afford to pay them.”
In June, CBS2 reported on Brooklyn residents who said they were also issued tickets for large amounts of litter when surveillance videos showed there were none.
City and state legislation that’s been introduced would force sanitation to provide photo proof of all violations.MORE NEWS: Police: Woman, 61, Killed In West Islip House Fire
The sanitation spokesperson says residents who believe they received a violation in error can fight it, but Alston says she’s called multiple city agencies to do so and no one has gotten back to her.