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NYCHA Gets Earful After Heat Fails At Mott Haven Houses

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Thursday may have marked the first snowfall of the season, but it also highlighted a very familiar problem for some public housing residents.

There was no heat in their apartments -- again.

CBS2's Dave Carlin saw it firsthand at the Mott Haven Houses.

"Why we got to live like this? No hot water! No heat!" resident Eddie Martin said.

Mott Haven Houses
Residents at the Mott Haven Houses were angry at NYCHA because they didn't have heat during the first snowstorm of the season. (Photo: CBS2)

Martin said it felt like the movie "Groundhog Day" -- the same story retold again and again, season after season, with inadequate heat coming for his radiators.

"I don't feel it, ice cold," Martin said. "Cold like an ice cub. NYCHA is not doing its job."

The retired counselor said with no gas for cooking, he is forced to heat up food out of cans on two small electric burners.

Martin spoke about the frustration he feels.

"It has been a whole month, a whole month and a half," he said, adding when asked how often he complains, "Every day, sir."

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Martin said he called 311 and the housing office more than 30 times, and New York City Housing Authority staff made a visit to his home only twice, fixing nothing but providing a hot plate.

"Nobody helps us out. Nobody helps us out," Martin said.

Other residents in the same NYCHA-run buildings said they remember a similar deplorable situation this time last year before Christmas started and through New Year's Day. They worry this Thanksgiving will be ruined for them.

"How we going to cook with one hot plate from Christmas and Thanksgiving?" Mott Haven Houses resident Yvette Santiago said.

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CBS2's Carlin demanded answers from staffers at the Houses and one worker acknowledged that this is a long-standing problem they brace for every single time it gets cold.

"The boilers are old, so this happens every year all over NYCHA," the worker said.

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So on a day when some people were shivering in their own apartments and heating up food on hot plates, the city held hearings. Despite saying it is making major improvements for NYCHA residents, leaders admitted finding the money has been tough.

"If we get the state money on boilers, we still have a $300 million need left," one official said.

That does inspire warm and fuzzy feelings for NYCHA residents left frozen out and unheard.

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