Tenants without heat brace for bitter cold

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Families without heat around New York City and Yonkers prepared for a miserable weekend Friday as they braced for low temperatures predicted to reach well into the single digits.

"It's not fair. It's not fair," said Tamika Anderson, a Bronx resident.

Anderson provided Eyewitness News cellphone videos documenting what she described as days without heat or hot water.

"We are suffering," Anderson said expressing concern for her five young children.

The ongoing issue is one of more than three dozen open violations against her apartment complex in the Bronx, according to city records.

By the time Eyewitness News arrived early Friday afternoon, the heat appeared to be coming on and the building's property manager promised he was addressing the issue.

Anderson lives just a couple miles from one of several NYCHA public housing complexes also facing heat issues.

A NYCHA spokesperson said the city has nearly three dozen housing developments with chronic heat issues.

"The blunt truth is because for decades NYCHA did not get the investment it needed, a lot of these boilers are in really tough shape," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "But the folks who work at NYCHA do a great job every day figuring out how to keep them going."

As of 8 a.m. Friday, NYCHA had 1,262 open tickets for heat issues. It was a small fraction of the agency's roughly 176,000 apartments.

A NYCHA spokesperson said the agency has repaired heating outages on average within five hours.

"Our residents deserve safe, warm homes in the winter and our staff is working 24/7 to repair outages as quickly as possible. We must do better for our residents," a NYCHA spokesperson said.

"It's not easy," said Omar Cintron, who lives in an apartment complex in the Bronx with his mother. "The same feeling you get outside, you get inside."

Cintron and his mother, Carmine, said heating failures are a chronic problem in their building.

"I get in this to get to warm," Carmine Cintron said showing Eyewitness News a heavy quilt.

The two have also invested in a small space heater, but Omar Cintron said it barely keeps one room warm.

"Especially in the morning, when we get up, it's really cold," Omar Cintron said.

In Yonkers, tenants raised similar complaints.

Lorraine Ruffin blocked out her windows with tarps and tape to try and keep the wind out.

"Come feel this," Ruffin said referencing the draft coming through the closed window.

By the time Eyewitness News arrived, the heat had been restored, but Ruffin questioned how long it would last.

"I have a grand baby," Ruffin said. "What kid wants to play on the cold floor? Basically, I'm sitting in my house like a mummy and a dummy."

New York City residents in public housing who are experiencing heating loss can reach out using the MyNYCHA app or by calling the Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771.

Other residents can also raise complaints with 311 which will be addressed by building inspectors.
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