22-year-old Duc Pham says it all started about a week ago. His apartment’s heat and hot water stopped working and he and his two other roommates had a city building inspector come check it out.
"The interaction was very brief. He only asked us a few simple questions. Like does this room have an AC and where's the hot water? He didn’t ask for any of our names," said Pham.
Then, on March 24, they received a letter from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development confirming the inspection. The letter addressed Pham and his roommates using a racial slur commonly directed at Asians.
"It’s hurtful and you try to stay positive, but it does get to you," says Pham.
Pham posted the letter on social media. The post gained the attention of City Councilman Brad Lander and New York City Housing. In a statement to FOX 5 NY, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development said: "The employee is suspended without pay and we’re conducting a full investigation to determine further disciplinary action. We've reached out to the individual affected to express our profound apologies. Racism has no place in New York City. We stand with the AAPI community against hate."
Friday afternoon, Pham says an employee from the city came to visit and discuss the incident. Pham says it’s still not clear who put the racial slur on the letter and he hopes the investigation will determine that.
"We want to understand how this happened. Even if it was an individual. Someone had to print out this letter. Someone has to send it. And also how to prevent this issue from happening in the future," says Pham.
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