Family placed in broken down Bed-Stuy apartment involved in scam says cries for help go unheard

A family that was once homeless and was placed into a dilapidated Bed-Stuy apartment says their calls for help have fallen on deaf ears.

News 12 Staff

Aug 3, 2021, 2:41 AM

Updated 994 days ago

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A family that was once homeless and was placed into a dilapidated Bed-Stuy apartment says their calls for help have fallen on deaf ears.
The home where Travia Hibbert and her three children were placed in is also at the center of a scandal.
Hibbert's apartment is plagued with problems, from mice to water leaks in the bathroom, to peeling paint.
"That apartment is not livable," says Willie Hickman, Hibbert's husband.
"Why is someone going to live in a place where there's no stove?," Hibbert asks
Hibbert says she's been using a hotplate to compensate for a broken stove since first moving into 751 Monroe Street three years ago.
"Home is supposed to be where you are supposed to be comfortable, but I feel like outside is better for me," she says.
Hibbert, whose children include a six-month-old boy, has contemplated going back to the shelter rather than staying at the apartment.
"I feel like life is over for me," Hibbert says.
The 25-year-old mother says she got her apartment through the shelter system in 2018. But little did she know it was being used in a scheme to defraud rental government assistance by a Queens man.
"At the end of the day, he took advantage of me," Hibbert says.
Just this past April, federal agents accused Paul Fishbein of falsely claiming to be the landlord of 20 dilapidated apartments that he rented to homeless and low-income New Yorkers across the city in order to collect a paycheck from the government.
"They need to, HRA needs to relocate her and the landlord, he needs to get dealt with," Hickman says.
The Department of Justice charged Fishbein with fraudulently obtaining more than $1 million from agencies like the city's Human Resources Association, which placed Hibbert and her family in the apartment.
But years after moving in, she's stuck in the broken down home looking for help.
"I feel like if a person would have done their job this wouldn't have occurred," Hibbert says.
When News 12 got Fishbein on the phone to address the building's conditions, he wanted to know which tenants News 12 was referring to, but then Fishbein hung up.
A spokesperson for the city's Department of Social Services Human Resources Association sent News 12 a statement that reads in part, "Regardless of housing status or previous experiences of homelessness, all New Yorkers should be able to live in safe, dignified housing... while we cannot discuss confidential client case details, we at NYC DSS-HRA and our not-for-profit social service provider partners stand ready to continue assisting this client and their family as needed in identifying and moving to an alternative apartment."
The city says there were no indications of these poor conditions during the initial inspection of the apartment before the family moved in three years ago. But Hibbert feels neglected in what she says has been a struggle to get help.
"You don't just leave somebody here and be like, 'OK, you're fine,'" Hibbert says.
The city says now that News 12 has brought this new information to its attention, it is investigating what legal action may be possible to compel repairs.


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