Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus stood with dozens of residents of NYCHA’s Coney Island Houses yesterday who have been enduring ongoing heat and hot water outages for weeks to demand that the Housing Authority respond to these complaints, immediately restore service to all tenants, and take steps to prevent these issues from constantly happening at the five-building complex located between Surf Avenue and the boardwalk. Residents have reported that their heat and hot water has been sporadic for over a month, with many enduring outages that last for days or weeks before service is restored. In some cases, an apartment has heat but no hot water, while a neighbor has not water but no heat.
As a result, residents say they are extremely cold at night, an issue made worse by the development’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, are forced to have their children sleep in winter coats and are even resorting to dangerous tactics including using ovens to heat their apartments. On Thursday, several dozen residents rallied in the community’s courtyard to demand action from NYCHA. Assemblymember Frontus will continue working with residents to document the ongoing problems and push NYCHA for solutions, as well as investigate possible legal remedies.
“We should not have to be standing here on a cold day in December demanding that NYCHA restore heat and hot water to the residents of this complex, but we were forced to because NYCHA refuses to treat the tenants with the dignity that they deserve. NYCHA’s unwillingness to rectify this matter or treating it as an urgent priority, even after receiving numerous calls and complaints, sends a chilling message to the people of our community that they don’t matter. And we are here to say that this is unacceptable.” said Assemblymember Frontus.
“There are residents who have been getting sick and going to the hospital due to the conditions we face. I have spoken with NYCHA and they keep passing the buck and saying that National Grid is responsible. We have so many people on different floors and buildings dealing with this issue. Somebody has to take responsibility,” said Lauretta Brumfield, Coney Island Houses Tenant President.
“I live on the top floor and every winter I have to fight for heat. I take them to court and they threaten to evict me, so we have to come together like this so they stop ignoring us. They don’t care about us. We’re human beings and we are rent paying residents and we deserve heat and hot water just like everyone else,” said Coney Island Houses resident Muneca Lozada-Texidor.
“Since National Grid has taken over, I have had no heat for days at a time. Six days of calling and calling and calling with no response. I’m sleeping bundled under four blankets shivering and I can’t take it. I don’t understand why we pay rent and not get what we deserve. We’ve had enough. Someone needs to do something now,” said resident Alafia Harmon.
“I’ve never had to go through what we’re dealing with now. NYCHA just doesn’t seem to care about us. I’ve been here since 1968 and have never seen it like this. I remember when you just had to make a phone call and they would actually come and fix it. Why do we pay rent just to have a cold apartment? Why is it that NYCHA doesn’t care? We are fed up,” said resident Margaret Williams.
“I’m tired of fighting. There’s no way we should be living like this and there’s no way I’m going to tolerate this. It feels like NYCHA doesn’t care about us and only cares about our money,” said resident Sheila Bell.
“There are days when they just turn off the water without notice. We put in complaints and are told they will look into it and nothing happens. This is not a political issue, it’s a human rights issue. Having heat and hot water is a basic human necessity. It doesn’t make sense why we have to pay our rent, fight for basic heat and water, and then be ignored. We have a lot of elderly neighbors who can’t keep going to management and people are afraid to speak up due to retaliation. But we are here, and we have had enough. The lack of respect NYCHA is showing us is deplorable and it has to end today,” said resident Donneitha Reed.
“What NYCHA is doing is cruel and inhumane and it violates the civil rights of every person living on the premises. In the coming days, we will continue to assess all legal remedies available to the residents of Coney Island Houses as the situation has now reached a point of neglect. Shame on NYCHA for having no back up plan as its paying tenants live in subhuman conditions. If NYCHA is unwilling to provide heat and hot water because it is the right thing to do, then the residents are more than willing to defer to the courts to force the hand of NYCHA because enough is enough,” added Assemblymember Frontus.