Over the weekend, State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou joined NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer to speak out about heat outages at NYCHA complexes during last week’s cold snap. Stringer announced he’s launching a new audit of the New York City Housing Authority over the issue.
In a press release on Saturday, Stringer called the situation a crisis. “We cannot be a city,” he said, “in which those with luxury towers are living in comfort, while those across the street in NYCHA complexes are deprived of heat and hot water. Unfortunately, heating breakdowns happen year after year – and the bureaucracy continues to play whack-a-mole with short-term fixes instead of permanent solutions. We need to address this maintenance mess now, because our seniors, children, and families are struggling.”
According to the comptroller’s initial survey of Department of Buildings records, the rate of defective boilers in NYCHA complexes is five times the citywide average (39.5%). The new audit will be the comptroller’s ninth of the hosuing authority.
Stringer said there have been complaints about a lack of heat and hot water in more than 30 complexes. Among those developments on the Lower East Side are: the Jacob Riis Houses, the La Guardia Houses and Lower East Side Rehab.
In a statement, Niou said, “I have been receiving constituent reports about heat outages throughout NYCHA developments on the Lower East Side (for several weeks). There are 90-year-old seniors, new born children, and dozens of families in my district impacted by these outages, and it’s critical that NYCHA find long term solutions to these heating problems.”
Channel 2 visited the La Guardia Houses to see how residents were coping:
With socks, robes and layers of clothing on, it was survival gear inside one tenant’s no-heat apartment Saturday… “It’s cold, yeah,” she said. Neighbor Yvonne DeLeon shared a photo of her 2-month-old grandson, Liam Gonzalez, and the electric space heater used to save him from injury, even death, from the cold inside the Lower East Side tower operated by NYCHA. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work,” Linda Cherry said.
NYCHA spokesperson Jasmine Blake told Channel 4, “Our staff is working 24/7 to combat this extraordinary cold spell that has battered the city. This weekend we are focused on ensuring heat is on in all NYCHA developments.” NYCHA says about $2 billion is required to repair boilers in public housing complexes across the city.
Over the last few days across the five boroughs, we’ve seen reports from more than 30 NYCHA complexes that tenants are without heat or hot water.
It’s completely unacceptable.
Our children, our seniors, our neighbors — they need permanent solutions, instead of band-aid fixes. pic.twitter.com/Br3eiNting
— Scott M. Stringer (@NYCComptroller) January 6, 2018
We are facing below-zero and dangerous temperatures in NYC. @NYCHA tenants should not be left out in the cold, without heat & hot water in their homes. Tx to @NYCComptroller Stringer for calling attention to this issue impacting the Lower East Side and our City. pic.twitter.com/KnfMfSBhfS
— Yuh-Line Niou (@yuhline) January 6, 2018