MIDTOWN, Manhattan — More than 100 residents who live in buildings run by the New York City Housing Authority attended a meeting Thursday night to speak out against the recent lack of heat and hot water, as well as other issues plaguing NYCHA developments.
The meeting coming the same day Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $13 million plan to get heat problems fixed in the buildings with the worst outages.
People at the meeting say it’s simply not enough.
“That’s actually a slap in the face. We need $1 billion dollars. We need money to fix these boilers and get this done,” said Carmen Quinones, president of the Douglass House Tenant Association.
Quinones is one of the organizers of tonight’s meeting. “I find it insulting they don’t respect people in public housing they think very little of people who live in public housing,” adds Quinones.
At the meeting, chants of “What do we want? Boilers! When do we want them? Now!” echoes through the packed room.
NYCHA residents of all ages, some even needing a walker or wheelchair to get around, made the meeting. All with one message for the mayor:
“We’re here to say to the Mayor, turn up the heat!” they shouted.
326 developments across five boroughs, it’s the largest public housing authority in the nation. It is also much beleaguered. From lead paint issues to falling ceilings and in recent weeks, to lack of heat and hot water during the historic cold snap.
“I live in a senior building that’s been so cold I haven’t slept in my house since 23rd of December ain’t right,” said Maria Pacheco, who lives in the UPACA senior housing in East Harlem.
The 77-year-old stayed with her daughter for weeks. Pacheco was only able to move back into her apartment two days ago.
“The heat, we tried with the stove, but it doesn’t reach my bedroom and it’s not safe. I had ice droppings on my window inside,” said Pacheco.
For Patricia Ali, it’s a different issue inside her WSUR Houses apartment on the Upper West Side.
“We have sewer water coming in through the kitchen sink, the bathtub and from the outside coming into the house, the stench is making me more sick,” said the former first responder who spent five months digging through the rubble of 9/11.
Ali now suffers from asthma.
One by one, they took to the mic. The complaints are the same, the landlord the same: the New York City Housing Authority, the biggest landlord in the city.
Now, another city entity - the Department of Investigation - has launched a probe after mounting issues with frozen pipes and failing boilers during the cold spell earlier this month that lasted nearly two weeks.
“I think it’s an expression of how the mayor isn't supporting people who live in public housing,” said Dr. Lenore Fulani, a community activist.
Fulani has started a petition opposing NYCHA’s Next Gen Plan that will privatize public housing. The petition has already garnered over 17,000 signatures.
The $13 million de Blasio has committed will replace entire boiler systems in buildings that most need it. Some of the money will also go towards hiring 57 new workers to respond to outages and to seal thousands of windows.