NYC senior-housing project still without heat despite official claims problem was fixed

Scores of suffering seniors in a Bronx housing project were bracing Friday to spend Christmas with Jack Frost after going more than two weeks without heat — despite official claims that the problem was fixed following a Post expose.

And in a cruel irony, the nearby community center where the 70-plus residents were told they could keep warm was closed for the holiday and won’t reopen until next week.

“No merry, jolly Christmas for me,” lamented Steven Tellie, 66.

“This is messed up.”

Tellie said the heat in his apartment briefly came on Thursday night but was out again when he woke up Friday.

He was preparing to spend Christmas Day bundled up in his bed.

“I have nowhere to go. My daughter died when she was 5. My mom died in 2011. My cousin is all the way in [Washington,] DC,” he said.

Resident Steven Tellie says he has nowhere to go but to freeze inside his unheated apartment.
Stephen Yang
Margarita Pabon and great granddaughter Leahany Reyes endure cold temperatures at Building 12 of the Bronx River Houses.
Margarita Pabon and great-granddaughter Leahany Reyes endure cold temperatures at Building 12 of the Bronx River Houses.
Stephen Yang

“Are they going to wait until one of us seniors die to do something?”

The New York City Housing Authority’s website said Friday that the outage in Building 12 of the Bronx River Houses in Soundview only lasted 22 hours and that heat was restored around 8 p.m. Thursday.

“They didn’t fix nothing,” fumed Charles Reeves, 78, who was wearing a knit cap with a pompom inside his apartment.

Building 12 of the NYCHA Bronx River Houses at 1630 East 174th St. in the Bronx.
The NYCHA directed residents to seek shelter at a nearby community center even though the place won’t be open for Christmas.
Stephen Yang
Bronx River Houses resident Charles Reeves
Bronx River Houses resident Charles Reeves says the NYCHA has not fixed the heating issue despite their claim.
Stephen Yang

“I never got any heat last night. I don’t know what they are talking about.”

Rosa Velazquez, 98, sat in her apartment, covered head-to-toe in pajamas, a sweater, a shawl and a blanket.

“NYCHA doesn’t give any attention to old people. They don’t care if we freeze. I called a lot of times,” she said.

NYCHA resident Alejandra Ramos
NYCHA resident Alejandra Ramos constantly sits next to a radiant heater while her Bronx apartment remains without heat.
Stephen Yang
Rosa Velazquez
Rosa Velazquez, 98-years-old, covers herself as much as possible and says the NYCHA “don’t care if we freeze.”
Stephen Yang

“This Christmas — it’s going to be sad.”

NYCHA said the community center was closed when the heat was restored and that there were “currently no heat or hot water service interruptions” at the site.

“Residents experiencing any issues, including heat or hot water loss in their apartment, should create a work ticket by using theMyNychaApp or by calling the Customer Contact Center,” a rep added.

Residents talk to each other about the no heating or hot water fiasco inside Building 12 of the Bronx River Houses on Dec. 24, 2021.
Residents talk to each other about the no heating or hot water fiasco inside Building 12 of the Bronx River Houses on Dec. 24, 2021.
Stephen Yang
Workers try to fix a leaking water issue from the ceiling at the lobby in Building 12 of the Bronx River Houses.
Workers try to fix a leaking water issue from the ceiling at the lobby in Building 12 of the Bronx River Houses.
Stephen Yang

William Rivera, district manager for Community Board 9, visited the site and sent NYCHA an email calling the conditions there “unacceptable.

“In addition to no heat and hot water there is a major leak in the lobby [and] doors do not lock. (Security issue),” he wrote.

“Can your office please look into this supposedly there were several NYCHA here yesterday.”

Resident Odell Griggs
Resident Odell Griggs leaves his stove on all the time even if he dies from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Stephen Yang
Building 12 of the NYCHA Bronx River Houses at 1630 East 174th St. in the Bronx.
Building 12 of the NYCHA Bronx River Houses at 1630 East 174th St. in the Bronx.
Stephen Yang

Later in the day, Norma Saunders, president of the Bronx River Houses Tenants Association, said, “If NYCHA would have fixed the situation before it worsened, you know we would not be in a situation like this.

“Right now, heat is coming up, it’s very low, but the plumbers are in there, and they are working on it,” she said.

Saunders warned, however, that the heat might not reach all the floors.

Resident Manuel Morales
Resident Manuel Morales, 96-years-old, tries to use multiple space heaters to stay warm.
Stephen Yang

“That’s the problem that we have,” she said.

“You’ll have the first and second, maybe the third, get heat, and then you have the fourth, fifth and sixth that don’t get anything.”

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