Out in the Cold

Cooper Residents Shiver!

Cooper Park Resident Karen Leader has to wear multiple layers to stay warm in her apartment.

Since the thermometer outside first began to plummet this Fall, the temperature in the apartments at NYCHA Cooper Park Houses hasn’t risen much.  Tenants are donning multiple layers to keep warm, in addition to purchasing space heaters they can’t afford, and some using their ovens to raise the temperature to a habitable level. 

Debra Benders, President of the Cooper Park Residents Council, reports “there are senior tenants who have health issues and can’t get out of bed because the cold increases their pain”. 

Resident Karen Leader also has conditions that the cold makes worse.  “I have to rub my legs and feet several minutes each morning to get them warm. I have on double clothing along with a winter hat in my very cold apartment.  Today it is with difficulty that I am getting around in my apartment [due to the cold],” she said.

When Debra Benders spoke to the super of the building on the Monday after Thanksgiving he told her that he had at least 40 complaints about the heat.  Debra Benders has been submitting tickets to NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) addressing the lack of heat starting on November 7, then on the 15, 22, and 26 as well.   “All of the complaint tickets were closed without rectifying the situation; its exasperating,” said Benders.  Karen Leader has been keeping a record of her complaint tickets about heat repair.  On November 4 she notes NYCHA closed the twelfth ticket without it being resolved.

Benders says three years ago a NYCHA appointed GSH Group as the heating contractor for 18 NYCHA buildings.  She remembered, “When NYCHA was in charge their staff came within 24 hours. Someone was on call.  Now NYCHA can’t go into the basement and GSH can’t come in the apartments”. Under the new system nothing is getting done and response is terrible. They should have done a test run in a smaller development.”

When someone follows up on the complaint they send someone in with a meat thermometer.  “It’s for taking the temperature of meat that is cooking? How can it give an accurate reading for the room’s temperature?” asked Leader.  She also mentioned they have come to check the temperature when she was in the middle of cooking, so her oven was on and that was what was warming her apartment.  “Feel the radiator.  It’s cold. The risers are cold too,” she added.

The Cooper Park Residents Council sent a letter to the following elected officials: U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, NYS Senator Julia Salazar, NYS Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, and NYC Council Member Antonio Reynoso.  The letter asks these officials to resolve the lack of heat in the 13 buildings of Cooper Park Houses.  “What are we tenants to do when there is NO HEAT coming from the risers nor from the radiators; when this HEAT interruption is not being properly addressed? This interruption of service is not in just one apartment, one line in a building or an entire building nor is it in a few buildings. It’s in at least 10 and sometimes all 13 buildings have NO HEAT,” excerpted from the letter.

As of this writing the winter is only three weeks away.  The temperatures outside will only get colder, and if things continue as they have been, that means they will be getting colder on the inside too.

This is a citywide issue with NYCHA.  A call for action went out on November 19 to call NYC Deputy Mayor of Housing Vicki Been and “demand that she get NYCHA to fix the heat and hot water in “ALL of our homes NOW” https://www.mobilize.us/communityvoicesheard/event/428269/

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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