Frigid tenants get their heat back on after PIX11 turns up the heat on the landlord

Posted at 7:14 PM, Jan 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-24 19:15:54-05

HARLEM, NY (PIX11) — They said they’d gotten the cold shoulder from their landlord, so they called PIX11 News for help.

PIX11 turned up the heat on the landlord, who then turned on the heat for tenants.  They say their cases are examples for others feeling left in the cold.

“[It was] like below 19 degrees, that’s how I felt,” said Marta Rodriguez about her cold apartment.  “I had my boots on, my hat on, my sweater.”

That was Wednesday evening, when PIX11 News went to her home in the George Washington Houses public housing complex, in response to a call Rodriguez had made to PIX11 News seeking help that she said she could not get from her landlord, the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA.

On Thursday, though, Rodriguez couldn’t let her hands linger long on her radiator.

“It’s hot,” she said, looking far different than she had 24 hours before.  “I have my summer sandals on and I feel comfortable.”

The cause of the difference, she said, was simple.  Rodriguez picked up the phone and called PIX11 News.

“I was calling NYCHA [and] my housing assistance and nobody helped me.  I said, ‘Somebody’s got to help me.’  …Channel 11 News,  they did the work.  They got the job done.”

NYCHA told PIX11 News Wednesday night that the boiler in Rodriguez’s building was under repair.  It left her and the neighbors on her floor and another floor in her high-rise building in an indoor cold snap, that is, until PIX11 News got in touch with NYCHA, according to Rodriguez.

“I’m very proud of you guys,” she said.

Across town from her East Harlem complex was a similar story.   An entire floor of a Grant Houses building had been an icebox for at least three months, according to residents.

“We called PIX11,” said a resident who identified herself only as Star.  Her apartment was clearly at a comfortable temperature a day after it had been so cold that her family felt compelled to call PIX11 News for help.

“You’re the best.  Thanks,” said Star.

And while everybody PIX11 News encountered at both the Washington and the Grant Houses was grateful, not everybody was convinced the improvement will last.

“I’m worrying about tonight,” said a neighbor of Rodriguez in the Washington Houses.  “By the time [the] management close[s], we’ll be freezing the rest of the night.”

Her lack of confidence in NYCHA’s ability to keep the heat on is unfounded, according to the housing authority.  It issued this statement to PIX11 News regarding problems with a lack of heat in its 2,600 buildings citywide:  “NYCHA staff is quickly on the scene to restore this essential service. We ask residents who are without heat/hot water to please call the Customer Contact Center at718-707-7771 to let us know about the outages and NYCHA will dispatch staff to the development to fix the problem.”

When PIX11 News contacted NYCHA regarding specific complaints of no heat, the authority repaired the situation in a timely manner.  Residents, however, said that it shouldn’t take PIX11 getting involved. Still, they said they’re grateful for whatever help can get them results.

“Good work,” said George Washington Houses resident Marta Rodriguez.  “I’m so proud of you guys.”

Anyone with inadequate heat in this cold snap should call 311 to report it.  PIX11 is also a good resource.  You can contact PIX11 through our Facebook page or via Twitter @WPIX.