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Demanding Answers: NYCHA Residents Worry They'll Be Without Gas Service For Holidays After 4-Week Outage

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is still no gas for some residents in New York City public housing on the Upper West Side.

CBS2 first reported on the problem two weeks ago. Residents in several NYCHA apartments have been without gas service for nearly a month.

MORE: Hundreds Of Families In NYCHA Buildings Without Heat, Gas As Temperatures Start To Drop

They say their complaints are not being addressed.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reports, NYCHA turned off the gas in the buildings on Oct. 18 after tenants were complaining of a gas odor, but the agency can't tell us if there's a broken pipe or what repairs need to be done.

NYCHA residents on the Upper West Side said they had no gas or electricity in late October 2020 as temperatures started dropping. (Credit: CBS2)

The 11 brownstones aren't typical for public housing, but they are NYCHA buildings, housing dozens of rent-paying families who are without gas for a fourth week.

"We want to cook like normal people do, but living like this, it's unhealthy for all of us," tenant Keri Cornwall said.

The New York City Housing Authority gave tenants hotplates to cook on until gas service is restored.

"If this was a co-op or a condominium on the Upper West Side, this would not be happening, but because it's New York City public housing, who does not like to spend the money that's allocated on the development, they are dragging their feet when it comes to getting a vendor to work quicker," Tenant Association President Cynthia Tibbs said.

When CBS2 visited the buildings two weeks ago, the agency said it was working with an outside vendor to expedite the repairs.

People who live there say they've heard that line before.

"It's textbook. It's a textbook saying ... No NYCHA trucks have been here. No work has been done on the gas line at all," Tibbs said.

Last week, tenants were hopeful when NYCHA requested they be home Thursday for an apartment inspection related to the gas repair.

NYCHA gave tenants hotplates to cook on until gas service is restored. (Credit: CBS2)

"So people stayed home from work. Essential workers stayed home from work unpaid, and nobody entered their apartment," Tibbs said.

"They say they have people doing the work? Where are they? They're not doing absolutely nothing. They're sitting on their hands," Cornwall said.

Sol Santiago, who has lived in her building for 32 years, says this happened before. Right before Thanksgiving in 2018, the buildings lost gas service for a year.

"Come and do your job. Do your job," she said.

MORE: NYCHA Residents Living Without Gas In Homes Since Last Thanksgiving (5/9/2019)

She's worried it will be another holiday without being able to cook a decent meal.

"I try to eat out, go buy food outside even though I can't afford it that much. But I gotta do it," Santiago said.

"It's terrible, absolutely terrible, to have to live like this," another tenant said.

NYCHA says the gas outage is complicated because of the age of the buildings and the configuration of the piping.

They say they do have a vendor that will be surveying the scope of the work that needs to be done, but if it's any indication of how long the work may take, NYCHA says it will be providing tenants with Thanksgiving meals.


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