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Elected Officials Call on NYCHA to Repair Heating Plant at Woodside Houses

State Sen. Mike Gianaris, Councilmember Julie Won (speaking), Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas and State Sen. Jessica Ramos at Woodside Houses Wednesday morning (Photo courtesy of CM Won)

Oct. 5. 2022 By Christian Murray

Several elected officials held a press conference at Woodside Houses Wednesday morning to call on NYCHA to fix the complex’s broken heating system that has left many residents without reliable heat and hot water for more than a year.

Council Member Julie Won, State Senators Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos, as well as Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas held the press conference to call on NYCHA to make good on its promise to repair the heating plant.

The elected officials had been promised back in January that the plant would be repaired by April. They visited the complex at the time due to repeated outages.

The heating plant, which supplies heat and hot water to 2,900 tenants in the 20-building development, flooded during Hurricane Ida and it has been out of order ever since.

NYCHA has installed mobile boiler units to provide heat and hot water to tenants while the heating plant is down. However, residents say, the mobile units are not reliable.

Since September 2021, there have been 21 occasions when the entire complex has been without hot water—and 11 instances when the public housing development has been without heating, the lawmakers said, citing city data.

On Tuesday, there was a heat and hot water outage, although NYCHA has resolved the issue.

“We stood in this same spot last winter where NYCHA promised to fix the heating plant by April,” Won said, referring to the January visit. “It is now October, and Woodside Houses residents are now facing another brutal winter without heat and hot water. We demand that NYCHA fix the heating plant immediately and provide a timeline for when the repairs will be finished.”

Won said that she is concerned that residents will have no choice but to use dangerous space heaters or stovetops to keep themselves warm. She said the use of alternative heating methods raises serious safety concerns for residents.

González-Rojas said that NYCHA needs to live up to its promise and repair the plant.

“Since January of this year, we’ve been aware of issues with the boiler at the NYCHA Woodside Houses and frequent heat and hot water outages,” Gonzalez Rojas said. “For ten months we’ve tracked outages at Woodside Houses, and yet we still see the same negligence today.”

But heating issues have been a problem for decades, according to Ramos, and the latest problem she said is nothing new.

“I wish we could say these heating issues at Woodside Houses stemmed from Hurricane Ida, but the reality is the tenants have been dealing with this for as long as I can remember,” Ramos said. “As a child in the neighborhood, I would have to wear a coat indoors during my playdates with friends who live here.”

NYCHA said that it was not an easy task to get the heating plant back in working order.

The agency said that it has already spent more than $1.4 million to repair the plant, which was compromised by decades of deterioration and flooding caused by Hurricane Ida. It also installed mobile units.

“Our staff installed three mobile boilers after the hurricane, which have been providing heat consistently, and have since been working with the Department of Buildings, Con Edison, and several heating and plumbing teams to ensure that our boilers are fully operational,” a spokesperson for NYCHA said.

The agency did not provide a timeline as to when the heating plant will be back in operation.

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