Brooklyn Boro

Thousands of NYCHA residents face sudden water outages

September 5, 2019 Meaghan McGoldrick
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More than 7,000 NYCHA residents across the city were without hot water — or, in some cases, any water at all — Thursday morning as the agency grappled with unplanned outages in 35 buildings across 11 developments, some of which started as early as Monday.

Buildings within the Bay View, Coney Island, Red Hook and Howard Houses were all experiencing unplanned outages as of 8 a.m. on Thursday, according to NYCHA’s website, leaving more than 3,000 Brooklyn residents without hot water, and at least another 1,400 without water at all.

According to the agency, another 1,400 residents at the Gravesend Houses are without water as part of the only planned outage on record.

Tevina Willis of the nonprofit Red Hook Initiative, who lives in one of NYCHA’s Red Hook Houses, said if there were ever a time for a water outage, the first day of school is definitely not it.

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“This is the worst possible time for this to happen,” Willis told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Willis was without water Wednesday, but couldn’t say whether or not it was back on Thursday since she was at work. It was “very possible,” she noted, that her home was still among the unlucky.

“It’s just a pain in the ass,” she said. “Tenants don’t know about it until a sign goes up, and even then, we’re not given a chance to prepare. A conversation needs to happen between management and tenants because it’s starting to look like extensive work needs to happen. We know it’s not gonna happen overnight — so just say that. Give us a chance to prepare.”

Issues with heat and hot water have plagued NYCHA for years. During last year’s heat season (Oct. 1 through May 31), more than a dozen Brooklyn NYCHA complexes experienced 10 or more unplanned heat or hot water outages, according to data obtained by the Legal Aid Society.

“NYCHA — as the landlord — has a legal obligation to ensure that public housing tenants in Brooklyn and in other boroughs have unabridged access to working water and other essential utilities” Redmond Haskins, a spokesperson for the Legal Aid Society, said Thursday. “And when that promise is broken, NYCHA must face consequences and issue rent abatements to those impacted.”

“Outages from the bursting of a main or waterline repairs and replacement are understandable and common in big cities. However, today’s reported NYCHA outages are embarrassing for the City of New York,” said Brooklyn Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel, chair of the City Council’s Committee on Public Housing. “Our most vulnerable Americans should not be placed in situations where they must worry about receiving our state’s proudest natural resource: water.”

NYCHA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but later told the Eagle, “Providing our residents with uninterrupted services continues to be the top priority at NYCHA. In fact, some service interruptions have already been restored.  NYCHA staff are on site to address the remaining outages as quickly as possible.”

By 2:30 p.m., outages at two developments — the Coney Island and Red Hook Houses — were deemed restored.

Update (Friday, 9:40 a.m.): This story has been updated to include comment from NYCHA.

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