NYCHA tenants living without heat fed up, want answers

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Thousands of people living in public housing who are without heat or hot water are fed up and want answers.

Now, City Comptroller Scott Stringer is stepping in, serving the housing authority a second subpoena.

The tenants in the Grant Houses in Harlem are suffering, and it is not even winter yet. They have frigid tap water and cold, dead radiators.

"I have a right to expect heat, I have a right to expect hot water. If I have a complaint, I expect for it to be repaired," says resident Barbara Stevens.

Tenants are outraged, and they're not alone.

At one time or another last month, tens of thousands of apartments in the city's public housing system were without heat, hot water or both - and thousands more in the past few days alone.

Comptroller Stringer is demanding answers.

"This is a citywide disgrace!" he said.

Stringer says NYCHA is stonewalling and is failing to respond to repeated requests for even basic information. On Friday, he filed for a second subpoena.

"I want every single piece of paper, every report, every managerial decision, so that we can get to the bottom of these outages that keep happening, year after year," Stringer added.

The fact is, public housing has been underfunded and mismanaged for years under successive mayoral administrations.

"While it's been a challenging few days," said the agency spokeswoman, "outages have been fewer than last year, and restorations have been hours faster."

That is cold comfort to many NYCHA tenants, who wonder what it will take to get them a reliable standard of living.

"I would hope that somewhere along the line that they would do something," says tenant Louise Scott.

The mayor has promised to step up boiler repairs, but tenants have a right to be skeptical.

The comptroller was not the first city official to shake his fist at the housing authority, and he will not be the last.

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