Bushwick tenants suffer in cold with broken water pipe

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N.J. Burkett reports on the problems facing tenants in Bushwick.

The tenants of 1231 Broadway in Bushwick, Brooklyn have lived with the mold on their ceilings and their showers.

Their kitchen counters, singed by their stoves. The mice and the roaches. But living without heat? They say it's been like this for nearly a week.

Julio Marino lives on the top floor and told us it's unbearable. And, what's more, he has no hot water. It's the apparent result of a broken water pipe that cracked in the extreme cold last week. His wife Veronica is nine months pregnant, and due in just five days.

"I can't stop thinking about the apartment my child will come home to," she said. "It's not safe for a baby."

Gabriel Martinez lives downstairs and told us he has no cold water. "Only scalding hot water," he said. "Not cold."

Community activists joined tenants in a rally outside the building Tuesday night, urging the city to step in.

Martin Needelman, an attorney with the not-for-profit Brooklyn Legal Services, says landlords are required under most circumstances to make heating repairs within 24 hours or face steep fines. "That's a criminal activity and the city needs to enforce the law," he said.

As cold as it is out on the street, it was no warmer inside the building. Many residents said they use electric space heaters, although they admitted they're not safe.

A handyman hired to maintain the building claimed he can't fix the plumbing. He said the owner is aware of the problems but is out of the country and unable or unwilling to authorize repairs. Tenants like Veronica say they have no choice but to suffer because they cannot afford to live anywhere else.
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waterheatBushwickBrooklynNew York City
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