SOUNDVIEW, the Bronx (PIX11) — Residents of NYCHA’s Bronx River Houses say they have been dealing with no heat, or at best, very low heat during the recent stretch of cold weather.

Tenant President Norma Saunders said the property has had a history of issues with the pipes and showed PIX11 News some of the visible damage in the halls of the building on multiple floors.

Saunders explained that when a pipe bursts, the water has to be shut down, slowing the heating system. That has resulted in low output of heat, which has been brutal in the last week of bitterly cold temperatures. 

“It takes NYCHA forever to turn it up in order for the entire building to gain heat and hot water enough to keep them warm,” said Saunders.

Luis Ovolles described his harrowing tale. Speaking through translator and tenant advocate Nancy Maxwell, he recounted the lack of heat in the building and then the massive pipe burst in his apartment early Christmas morning.

Around 3 a.m. Sunday, Ovolles and his 93-year-old mother were awaken by the pipe burst in the bedroom, the second time it’s happened in the last three months. He jumped out bed and his feet touched the hot water that had flooded the apartment.

“That’s when he made the phone call to 911 for the ambulance, but at that point his foot was already burned. His main goal was to save his mom,” said Maxwell.

Ovolles and his mother had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for burns. On Monday night they were airing out the apartment after a massive cleanup. The pipe burst was on top of the lack of heat residents have had to deal with. Another tenant, Hector Alvira, described how he has been keeping warm for the past few days.

“I got two sweaters. I got sweatpants, wearing a coat,” said Alvira. “I put on the stove and I have to watch it because I can’t leave it on all night.”

PIX11 News reached out to NYCHA for comment. In a statement, a NYCHA spokesperson said the leak is no longer active.

“NYCHA staff are working with the residents to determine what is causing the radiators to malfunction, and to evaluate the six broken windows for repairs. We will continue to address the issues until they are resolved,” the NYCHA spokesperson added.