More than 35,000 NYCHA residents have been going through the fall without heat and hot water, a mere three weeks into the season.
The problem mentioned here is something that the Legal Aid Society has been keeping track of, with unplanned outages on four separate since the start of October when the heating system for the city was first turned on. The LAS says that 35,475 residents have been affected by the issue.
Redmond Haskins, LAS spokesperson, says that this is a terrible start of the heat season, and now they’re afraid for the vulnerable New Yorkers living in public housing, like the elderly, disabled, and others, as the colder winter season rolls in. Haskins says that the NYCHA has a legal and moral obligation to provide the proper utilities to their residents, and the agency’s continued disregard, a violation of the law itself, is concerning.
This less-than-stellar performance follows a winter which saw more than 80% of the NYCHA residents experienced several heat outages between October and late January. According to Haskins, the latest figures left the LAS worried about the coming months.
According to the New York Post, the original source of the data, the NYCHA had maintained that the duplicates published distorted the numbers, with the agency alleging that the many outages mentioned here have been planned ahead as part of repairs. NYCHA agency records only had 70 heating and 161 hot water outages at 22 locations.
Haskins, however, has published the LAS’s own list of the outages and the affected developments, saying that they had made sure not to count duplicates.
The New York City Council held a hearing to address the issue, with the Public Housing Committee overseeing the proceedings. Legal Aid Society’s Attorney Lucy Newman stated that, in spite of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $200m funding for boiler replacement and heating system work, residents have not been kept updated on improvement plans, even as the outages continued.
During a press conference for his walk-through, Mayor de Blasio stated that several meaningful improvements have been made to the NYCHA over the summer, including the hiring of 50 new heating technicians, 12 developments getting new boilers, as well as six other getting mobile boilers, among other things.
These improvements were reiterated by NYCHA General Manager Vito Mustaciulo, who says that the agency is doing what they can with what they have.