Bereaved Mother of Suicide Suing Facility Where He Had Access to Roof

The mother of a 21-year-old mentally ill man is suing the Jack Ryan Residence in Chelsea for allowing him free access to the roof of the 10-story facility. In 2013 Angel Nunez jumped to his death from the roof of 127 West 25th Street, and his mother, Astra Rodriquez, 59, holds the staff at the residence responsible.

“This isn’t a shelter with cots. It’s a mental health facility but they allowed residents almost totally unrestricted access to the roof. The doctors knew that he had suicidal tendencies. He’s depressed and he jumps. It’s absolutely horrible,” said Rodriguez’s lawyer, Elliot Pastik.

According to court records Nunez left a note for his family on August 2, 2013, went to the roof where he climbed over a 9-foot fence, and stood on the ledge. He ignored staff who ran to help him and tried to talk him down. At 5:40pm Nunez emptied his pockets of his money and ID, threw them up in the air, threw out his arms, looked at the staff, and then fell to his death.

The operators of the facility, the Bowery Residents Committee, opened the Jack Ryan residence in 2011, despite neighborhood opposition. At the time the BRC bragged about their “rooftop garden” which residents could access, getting fresh air without the need to congregate on the sidewalks outside the residence, therefore avoiding the neighbors and their wrath.

“They’re serving people with mental issues. How are you going to leave access to the roof to people who are mentally ill?” Astra Rodriguez said. “Not only because it was my son — anyone else could have gone up there and decided to hurt themselves.”

NYC Program Helps Subway Homeless Get Shelter

Homeless Person sleeping on NYC subway. Photo by  edkohler

Homeless Person sleeping on NYC subway. Photo by edkohler

Over the past four years the number of homeless New Yorkers who seek shelter in the subways has skyrocketed by 90 percent, to a total of 1,841 today. To address this problem the city signed a contract with the Bowery Residents Committee for $6 million over several years. One benefit of the deal was the tripling of the number of social workers and clinicians to 60, allowing the city to reach out to more homeless people.

There are now about 1,000 homeless in the caseload of this new and unprecedented program. So far the program has convinced 261 of them to accept housing and other services that are available to them.

“We’ve increased the placement into transitional housing tenfold and we see that as a huge indication our efforts are working,” said assistant commissioner Danielle Minelli-Pagnotta.

To be considered a “chronically homeless” person an individual must be seen sleeping in the subway on a minimum of five occasions, said officials from the Department of Homeless Services. Each person is assigned a case manager, and information obtained from the homeless person is entered into a centralized data base.