NYCHA brownstones in the West 90’s are still without gas.
By Michael McDowell
As autumn deepens and Thanksgiving approaches, some residents of the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) West Side Urban Renewal Brownstones in the West 90’s may soon mark a year without gas.
“It would be great if we were treated like people,” a resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Rag. “We’re paying our rent, and yet, nothing has been done. Everyone is about to do their lease renewals, and our rent is going to go up. And I just don’t understand—it’s been almost a year,” the exasperated resident continued.
It’s a kind of neglect that’s emblematic of the housing authority’s failures, according to Congressman Jerry Nadler, who earlier this month joined Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s Pubic Housing Emergency Response Act, longshot legislation which would allocate more than $70 billion for capital repairs nationally, with $32 billion to NYCHA.
Residents have had to make do with hot plates and half-finished repairs for months. Photos via NYCHA resident who asked to remain anonymous.
“It’s unconscionable for residents to be without gas for nearly a year,” Rep. Nadler, who has represented the Upper West Side since 1993, told the Rag. “NYCHA’s failure to attend to this basic maintenance is a symptom of the failures of management in our current public housing system. As we fight to fully fund NYCHA’s capital needs, we have to make sure those funds are managed in a way that actually serves the residents.”
A meeting with residents has been scheduled for Friday, October 11, at 6:30 p.m.
“The safety of our residents is paramount,” a NYCHA spokeswoman said, in a statement. “While we understand this outage has been difficult, NYCHA is working to repair and test crucial building infrastructure so that Con Ed can restore service as soon as possible.”
Reached for comment, a spokesman for Con Edison attributed the delay to plumbing.
“Con Edison was there on September 30th, and we are still waiting for NYCHA’s plumber to complete their work. When that happens, we will come in and make sure it’s up to code, and then NYC Department of Buildings [DOB] will come in and make sure it’s all up and up. With DOB approval, we’d turn [gas] back on.
In the impacted apartments, maintenance workers cut large holes in drywall, to access gas lines. Repairs haven’t been completed, and these holes have been covered with construction paper and duct tape.
NYCHA has not provided Brownstones residents with a timeline for the restoration of service, and several residents were afraid to comment publicly on the outage, out of a fear of retribution.
“Tenants are not only concerned about retribution, but the previous management told them that they could all get transfers. That would mean they would not be sent back to their homes, it would be a permanent move out of the area,” explained Cynthia Tibbs, a resident leader and housing activist who herself is a Brownstone resident.
A parent of the resident the Rag spoke with has lived in the Brownstones for more than twenty years.
“If it’s a contractor issue, they need to get someone else to fix it. It’s absurd, it’s ridiculous,” the resident sighed. “There’s no transparency. Who holds them accountable? Who is supposed to hold them accountable?”
The Rag first reported on the outage in May.
The Brownstones, located in the West 90s between Columbus and Central Park West, sit in the shadow of Emery Roth’s art deco El Dorado, adjacent some of the neighborhood’s most valuable real estate.
Why does NYCHA house folks in Brownstones? Couldn’t they sell those buildings and use the money to house many more folks in less expensive areas of the city?
What am I missing? (admittedly I’m not a public housing expert)
Your missing a lot if you think people who have been living here all their lives should be forced out because the City dosen’t care to make repairs!
Shame on all of you who think the solution is to make people who have lived here practically all of their lives, is to be relocated to a less desirable neighborhood. What gives you the right? Most of us have lived here when this was considered a undesirable neighborhood and now you want to gentrify us out instead of making the Mayor stop selling us off to the highest bidder? Clearly Patrick Tucker you are lacking common sense as you don’t need to be a expert to see that uprooting 36 brownstones (yes there are 36 brownstones under the Westside Urban Renewal) filled with families is a better solution than fixing them!!
It’s a vestige of Mayor Wagner’s 1955 West Side Urban Renewal program.
People and neighborhoods aren’t fungible. Even poor people.
Patrick Tucker – I agree, they were bought in the 60’s/70’s when most brownstones were abandoned on the block. The living conditions in them is terrible but the cost of fixing them is exorbitant. Why not use the money to improve the living conditions of the tenants. Turin house is half empty and I am sure there are other buildings just like it
Anything you do in those old Brownstones cost a fortune and takes a long time. You want to replace pipes you have to tear down the old plaster walls and then you have to fix everything including structure. These sorts of jobs are not suited for The City to be attacking.
Is Turin House really half-empty? Why?
Is it still moderate income?
Elliman owns Turin House, and building is a co-op with some low income rental units. That being said 609 Columbus is in no way entirely a low or even moderate income restricted building IIRC.
Where’s all the money going? Ask your representatives.
Better yet ask mayor and city council.
Then again the department of homeless services has a *Two Billion* dollar budget, yet there are homeless everywhere one looks.
Someone somewhere is doing all right for themselves.
NYC’s infrastructure is collapsing. If only we had a President who knows something about such things and is an expert in NYC building.
Oh right, we do. We have a president who successfully built an ice skating rink in central park, converted a office building into a world class five star hotel condo, built luxury apartment buildings along the river, we should ask him to help.
Oh right, you all declared a resistance to him and Nadler is leading a coup against him!
See fokes, you had your chance. NYC (and NJ) need lots of stuff and we have a president who is uniquely able to help but no, you had to declare war on him. Too bad, you all really blew a chance to make things better for us all.
This has nothing to do with federal government of current or any other previous administration.
City of New York/NYCHA owns those townhouses and has (like rest of NYCHA) deferred, neglected and otherwise left these places to rot and ruin. These buildings were in bad shape when city took them over, and little has been done since.
Re: “If only we had a President who knows something about such things….”
Make that: If only we had a President who knows SOMETHING (full-stop).
One who knows something besides bullying his opponents, working as a secret agent for foreign governments, violating the U.S. Constitution, etc. all-the-while declaring himself to be a “stable genius”.”
Of course, he’s never identified WHICH STABLE HE’S FROM; although at most of them the horses are probably smarter.
“Sorry, Charlie” but the UWS has NOT declared war on the office of the president. Instead we’ve declared war on a bigoted bully who makes the U.S. the laughing stock of the world and who brings out all the worst in his “supporters”.
Who will be the first to call for more… … … “affordable housing”?
@PatrickTucker: It is my understanding that back in the 80s/90s, NYCHA took what were essentially derelict brownstones that had not been maintained and had essentially been abandoned by owners. As these buidlings have aged further, NYCHA has not been able to keep up with the maintenance demands either.
Less expensive areas of the city would be where? Presumably, you’re not talking about moving residents a few blocks; rather, it would seem moving the out of the UWS, or perhaps out of Manhattan altogether. It shouldn’t be a matter of (forcibly) relocating people who may have lived in these apartments for 20-30 years; who, in some cases, may even have grown up in these apartments.
And to what end? So that these brownstones can be sold to private interests for …..renovation? As market-rate aparements? As single-family homes? Demolition? More mid- and high-rise construction? More and indefinite disruption to the neighboring buildings? More billionaires drilling into bedrock for years on end to install subterranean swimmiing pools?
I think you’re missing a lot of questions and a lot of concerns, and by more people than those living in the NYCHA apartments. The current conditions sound a lot like forcible relocation (or de facto eviction) by making the apartments unhabitable, just in time for private owners to buy cheap from NYCHA.
You guys need to replace Nadler with a Republican! #walkaway
The Republican party needs to be disbanded and outlawed as a terrorist organization. #lockthemup #clank #clank
These brownstones are beautiful but they are rotting away and it will cost a fortune to modernize them (especially when contractors deal with the city).
They should be sold to private developers who will have the funds to properly renovate them.
The people living there should be moved to more modern and efficient housing.
I live in a building on 86th Street that was without gas for 1 year, 9 months, 4 days, 8 hours and 36 seconds, but who’s counting!
Unfortunately all pre-war buildings may all go through this, but really it shouldn’t take that long. Terrible.
It is terrible.
I am almost to the point of installing an electric range – not the end of the world, I know how to cook on electric you just have to be more careful.
Problem with that is unless your apartment/building is wired for the 208v/240v service an electric range requires switching from gas may not be possible easily nor cheaply.
There are 120v electric ranges, but their functionally is limited by their rather puny power input.
Yeah, we are going through the same thing, 246 west 106th street. I knew it would be a nightmare – just was hoping it would not be this long. We have hot water, but not sure about the heating situation – but something has to happen sooner or later. I am very sad.
This is not to take away from the residents dealing with terrible landlord, but we were without gas for 5 months on 89th on the east side of Broadway. Now the condos on 89th on the west side of Broadway has been without gas for 7-8 months, impacting Ollie’s and Candle Cafe along with it. And someone in the building told us it could be another 10-12 months before it gets gas back. It’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem that seems to consistently take a long time to resolve.
Patrick Tucker should be ashamed of himself to think we should basically be forced out of the neighborhood simply because the City doesn’t want the responsibility to make repairs.
Ever since that gas explosion back in 2015 leveled nearly half a block in East Village, then the coming out of not only was it caused by tampering with gas lines, but that practice was widespread; heaven help you if a problem is reported to ConEd or National Grid. Gas will be summarily shut off and neither will turn it back on until every single “T” is crossed and “I” dotted.
Today even something simple as a new (gas) water heater, dryer, range or any other appliance installation can take weeks or months until Con Ed or National Grid is satisfied with work/paperwork and turns on gas.
When you add a whole layer of NYCHA/NYC incompetence or whatever to the mix and you see what happens.
City should just move these families to another NYCHA property, and or work with a developer of “affordable” units to get them into one of those buildings, then put these ancient townhouses on the market without restrictions.
Even in their poor condition being steps away from Central Park each could fetch $4 million or more each which collectively. Total sum would easily cover any costs of relocation for current residents, and city might even come out ahead.
City and its elected officials both here and Washington need to face reality; Congress isn’t interested in helping urban areas fix their own housing mistakes. NYCHA has been starved for revenue by city (even before federal funds began drying up) for years.
Money for bike lanes, CitiBike, ferries, electric car charging stations, etc… that the City has, but always cries poor mouth when it comes to public housing.
This is not just a NYCHA problem. The building I live in, 246 West 106th Street has been without gas since May of this year, with no apparent end in sight.
I saw something on the news the other night, channel 11 where there was coverage of another building without gas, and the people were protesting.
It’s hard to cook on an electric hot plate. And it is unhealthy to eat sandwiches every day.
Why can’t it be fixed like this: by lottery a single building is chosen, that building’s residents are relocated permanently to better living facilities, then, the building is completely renovated while empty. When the work is complete, another building is chosen by lottery. Those residents get moved to the renovated building, their old building gets completely renovated, etc.?
There’s 36 buildings, so find 3 contractors to each do 12 buildings. 3 buildings could be renovated at a time. The work would be done, instead of put off for years.
If there’s no heat or cooking facilities, this means the buildings are unfit for human habitation. Follow the law and fix this.
What does this fix? You’re still FORCIBLY relocating tenants and families who may have lived their entire lives in these apartments. RANDOM forced relocation is still FORCED relocation.
Also, the issue does not necessarily extend to heat, which I don’t believe is provided by natural gas.
Simpler fix: Replace the gas stoves with electric induction-top stoves. Safer, more cost-effective, less disruptive; and frankly this could have and should have been done at least 6 months ago.