|Paul Williams and Caroline Cromelin. Photo Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times|
Five years ago, the building’s owner covered the top of the shafts to stop leaks that had begun to make the walls crumble.
Losing light and not-quite-fresh air in the heart of one’s home would be difficult enough for Ms. Cromelin and her downstairs neighbor Jillian Murray. Then they refused to let workers in to place drywall over their already darkened windows. The landlord responded with eviction notices in 2013.
In a twist of fickle justice, two housing court judges ruling on almost identical living situations reached opposite decisions. Ms. Cromelin gets to keep her windows for now, but Ms. Murray might lose hers, or even her apartment.
Three other eviction cases have been brought against Cromelin and illiams, including a nonresidency case in 2011. It claimed the family actually lived at a farmhouse near Danbury, Conn., grounds for terminating their stabilized lease. Each time, the family was allowed to stay.
Complicating the decisions, the Buildings Department could soon revoke its approval for the work because a city board ruled in November that closing the shafts “cut off existing (albeit minimal) light and air to the room used as a bedroom” and violated the building code.
Ms. Cromelin said she and her family were hopeful they would again see the light of day inside their apartment soon.
To celebrate, they may form a band, with Mr. Williams on guitar, Ms. Cromelin on piano, George on saxophone and Virginia on trombone, plus Ms. Murray, who plays the trumpet.
“We’ve all been sued so many times,” Ms. Cromelin said, “we’re thinking of calling ourselves the Respondents.”