Lucy Lopez has not been able to cook in her apartment for 39 days. Like the other residents of 200 apartments at 131 Broome St., she’s been without gas service all that time. The stove-top is out of commission and hot plates handed out by building management are no substitute.
Last night, exasperated tenants of the Grand Street Guild Apartments, a Section 8 complex, met with a representative from the management company. Liaisons from the offices of several elected representatives were also in attendance.
The gas was shut off in August, after a leak was detected during an inspection in the building’s laundry room. According to tenants, management has said the repairs are taking so long because workers have had trouble gaining access to some apartments. Three of six gas lines have finally been repaired, but it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take to restore service to the entire building.
In an interview today, Tenant Association President Daisy Paez told us that residents, “have nowhere to cook. They’re of a culture that likes to cook big pots of rice and beans, have food cooking all day.” Without use of their stoves, a lot of people in the building are ordering takeout and eating in restaurants. “It’s costing them a lot of money,” she said.
After Paez asked the building owner (a not-for-profit controlled by the Archdiocese of New York) to compensate tenants, $200 rebates were offered. Residents last night made it clear the offer is inadequate. Many of them are thinking of filing lawsuits.
During the meeting, Paez said the landlord could be doing a lot more to coordinate with tenants and to expedite the repairs. “If this was a non-minority complex,” she told tenants, “you people would not have to put up with this. The co-ops across the street (meaning the market-rate Seward Park Cooperative) would never put up with this. I’m sorry to say it.”
The elected officials wrote an Oct. 4 letter to Wavecrest Management, which operates the complex, urging speedier repairs and more financial assistance for tenants. The letter was signed by State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Alice Cancel, City Council member Margaret Chin, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
One resident last night, Dashia Imperiale, called on the elected representatives to do more. “How are you going to follow up on this letter?,” she asked. Imperiale said Maloney in particular should be putting pressure on the owner, since the building receives federal subsidies. Cancel’s representative, Monica Guardiola, told tenants that her office has made several attempts to contact the Archdiocese. There has been no response.
This building, 131 Broome St., has a checkered past. Last New Year’s Eve, 25-year-old Stephen Hewett-Brown was crushed by a malfunctioning elevator. Residents say it’s still common for elevators to break down and that, months after the tragedy, repairs are still being made.
We have reached out to Wavecrest Management for comment. This story will be updated if a representative from the company responds.