THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — Ed Yager has been living at the Amalgamated Houses since the 1940s. His parents brought him there as an infant. The sprawling complex in the Northwest Bronx was founded by a union about 100 years ago to provide affordable housing for middle-income families. But soon, living at his beloved complex could grow difficult.
“It’s heartbreaking. This is my home. I believe in it. And yet I don’t have confidence that we can go forward into the future because we don’t control our own destiny,” said Yager.
The co-op general manager told PIX11 News that they don’t have the nearly $15 million it would take to fix the plumbing problems in its gas system, nor enough time to meet New York City’s deadline to make repairs.
“It’s a life safety issue. Knowing that we have defects in 10 of our 13 buildings on the plumbing and gas system, the natural thing to do is shut down the gas because we know that there are critical repairs needed,” said Charles Zsebedics, general manager of Amalgamated Housing Corporation.
Zsebedics said a city law passed in 2016 requires buildings to perform mandatory inspections to gas systems and set a deadline for needed repairs. Amalgamated buildings require state approval to refinance, but that was denied, cutting their chances of meeting a deadline to make needed repairs.
With just weeks to go, the co-op plans to shut off gas for more than 800 of its nearly 1,500 units to avoid being in violation. The looming deadline is causing concern for residents, many of them seniors on a fixed income.
“There’s a lot of older people here. But people still want to have a good quality of life. It’s really difficult. I don’t want to go to a nursing home or assisted living facility. I want to be able to take care of myself for as long as I can,” said Lucy Degidon, who moved there more than three decades ago.
The local assemblyman, Jeffrey Dinowitz, said he has been calling on the New York City Council and the state to step in.
“Losing anything here would be a disaster. The governor had made a centerpiece of her budget this year creating 800,000 units of housing. Here is something the state should do is preserve 1,500 units of housing,” said Dinowitz.
Dinowitz said there is a meeting planned in the coming weeks to try to get emergency funding or some sort of extension for the co-op.
The state’s Homes and Community Renewal agency provided the following statement about the situation.
“HCR is currently in discussions with ConEd about a potential shutdown of cooking gas at Amalgamated, including whether a shutdown is actually scheduled and, if so, determining potential remedies to address the situation. However, as Amalgamated is a privately owned building, it is the responsibility of the Housing Company to manage the building and provide solutions to potential problems such as this.”