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City Council Holds Hearing On NYCHA Heating Breakdowns

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The City Council is holding a hearing on the failure of heating systems in New York City Housing Authority buildings.

The hearing follows weeks of NYCHA boilers breaking down or struggling to produce heat and hot water during frigid temperatures.

The Council is hearing testimony from NYCHA executives and residents affected by the failing heating systems.

"Enough is enough," resident Carmen Quinones said. "This morning I got up and I had no water. None."

NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye read from a prepared statement and then was peppered with questions, 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reported. Council Speaker Corey Johnson grew impatient after admissions that more than 80 percent of NYCHA residents had heat and hot water problems this winter.

"Just apologize," he told Olatoye. "I mean generally. I didn't see in the testimony, I didn't hear in the answers, just say 'We are sorry. We're sorry that it's gotten to this point.'"

Olatoye responded, "I specifically said that the performance and the interruptions in service were unacceptable.

The beleaguered chairwoman says a $3 billion loss in funding since 2001 has led to a daunting backlog of capital improvements which is now estimated to cost the agency $25 billion to fix, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

Council Member Ritchie Torres called the failures at NYCHA staggering and scandalous.

Heating issues have plagued NYCHA residents for years, but this winter has brought a crisis the state and federal governments can no longer ignore, says Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

"For our family members to be living like this is unacceptable," he said Monday while appearing with residents at the Gowanus Houses. "These are our grandmothers, our aunties, our uncles, our mothers, our sisters, these are not strangers."

Tenant Margaret Brishbon says her apartment has been ice cold.

"No heat and I had to wear clothes like I'm going outside," the 81-year-old said.

Adams wants NYCHA to take $48 million in savings after a conversion from oil to gas heat and use it for emergency boiler repairs.

But the agency said the money is specifically for reductions in energy bills.

Late last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city is investing $200 million to replace boilers and upgrade heating systems at 20 public housing developments with the most chronic issues.

De Blasio said the work will be done over the next four years and that the upgrades will help the New York City Housing Authority save $5 million a year in energy costs.

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