Senator Jeff Klein spent part of Friday, January 16 visiting with more than a dozen tenants of a Pelham Bay building where the landlord is not providing adequate heat.
The building, located at 2025 Continental Avenue, is now the subject of an investigation by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development thanks to Klein.
The 6-story, 58-unit building has a good number of elderly seniors who are home during most of the day. At the meeting, held in the apartment of Carlo Longo, 83, the heat service during the day and night is erratic.
“I think that everyone here knows it has to be 68 degrees in the apartments,” said Klein, at the meeting. “HPD has discovered that there is a timer [linked to] the management office. We don’t know if they are switching it on and off illegally – we should know that next week. Needless to say, this is outrageous. Today is the coldest day in New York City in two years.”
Residents said they have been calling 311 since October, as well as the building’s management office, with heat complaints. The problems began when a new landlord took over the building about a year ago, they said.
After calling 311 proved futile, the Longos’ daughter, JoAnn Longo-Silvestri, reached out to Klein.
“It is not so much that the heat is non-existent, but that the heat is inconsistent,” Longo-Silvestri said. “My dad goes to the senior citizen center at St. Benedicts Church every day, but we have other relatives in the building at home during the day and the heat does goes off then too. We know of a dozen people who have filed multiple complaints with the management company.”
A call to the building’s management company, E.D.J. Realty, did not yield a response.
HPD director of code enforcement Vito Mustaciullo said the site has been visited and will continue to be visited by HPD personnel, who will inspect any apartment if they are granted access.
“We issued violations for inadequate heat and hot water and found the presence of the timer which may render the system inoperable,” Mustaciullo said. “Since we issued those violations we have been out there several times yesterday and today and have taken temperature readings ranging from 63 to 72 degrees.”
Mustaciullo added that it is not unusual to find a remote timer on the boiler in apartment buildings, and many are used properly without any problems. He also added that temperature readings in the apartments were lower as inspectors got closer to air conditioning sleeves in the building’s windows.
The building’s management believes this is causing the problem with the heat, and has offered to take the air conditioners out and plug the sleeves during the winter. Residents believe that this argument is a smokescreen, and are concerned about having to lift heavy air conditioners back into place in the spring.
They point out that the lobby of the building also used to be heated, but since the new management company took over, it is no longer heated. They believe the landlord is trying to save on fuel costs.
“I have been living here for 30 years and have always had the proper heat, until now,” said resident Carmela Tripani. “I was never told in the past to take out the air conditioner.