7 On Your Side helps 84-year-old Brooklyn resident without heat since October

CANARSIE, Brooklyn (WABC) -- 7 On Your Side jumped into action when an octogenarian was in need of warmth during a bitterly cold January.

It was a frigid January with average highs just above freezing, about 33 degrees. That's nearly five degrees colder than last January.

Sylvia Shepherd Toussaint, a Brooklyn resident, lives in an icebox. The 84-year-old's apartment has been without heat all winter.

The radiator has been cold for so long she uses it as a shelf. Her apartment is about 10 degrees colder than 68 during the day or 62 at night, mandated by the city.

So, Toussaint sparks up four space heaters.

No heat also means no hot water for showers. She boils water in a kettle to take a hot shower.

But, the biggest hazard is when Toussaint lights all four gas burners. The burners are turned on full blast. The fire hazards make her niece nervous.

"After seeing that fire in the Bronx and other fires being caused by space heaters," her niece Debra Shepherd said. "You can't sleep when the nighttime comes because you don't know what's going on with her."

Her landlord, who lives upstairs in the duplex, has heat in his apartment.



Shepherd said he keeps saying he will fix it or get someone else to fix it.

So, she called the city, and days before 7 On Your Side arrived, the city posted a notice of violation.

"We called 311 several times, several times, and he ignores the notices," Shepherd said.

Shepherd and her aunt aren't alone. According to 311 complaints, there have been more than 62,000 no heat complaints so far this heating season. That's up 25.5% from this time last year.

More than a third of the complaints have come from the Bronx (22,754). The next highest tally is Brooklyn (17,556), followed by Manhattan (12,816). Also, on the rise is the amount of time it takes to get the heat back on, up 8%.

The landlord didn't answer when 7 On Your Side went to his apartment, so we called.

"Your downstairs tenant needs heat, this is against the law," Pineda said. "We're going to put this on the news, you got to get the heat going for Sylvia."

The landlord said he was waiting for a part to fix the boiler, but 24 hours after the call, the heat was on.

For the first time this winter, Toussaint had heat and hot water.

"Thanks for everything you're doing and may God continue to bless you," Toussaint said.

Remember to make your complaints to 311 and keep a record of your complaint numbers along with the date and time you make them. Also, it's not a bad idea to document how cold it is with pictures of the thermostat.

More 7 On Your Side | Tips to keep gas, electric bills low this winter
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Energy costs are on track to light up your family's budget this year -- check out these tips from 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda to keep bills low.



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