Mott Haven tenants triumph over landlord, regain cooking gas after 16 months

The apartment building at 230 Brook Ave., where residents organized after 16 months with no cooking gas.
Photo Emily Swanson

Residents of 230 Brook Ave. in the South Bronx are celebrating a successful organizing effort that led to the reinstatement of their cooking gas following a 16-month outage.

When the gas was initially shut off, it didn’t seem like there would be a long-term problem, said a 60-year-old tenant who spoke with the Bronx Times but did not want his name published for fear of backlash from the management company, Langsam Property Services Corporation. The Bronx Times contacted the company but did not receive a reply. 

Residents were told it was a minor issue that would be dealt with immediately, the resident said. But more and more time passed with only vague assurances from management that they were working with Con Edison on the problem. 

Residents filed numerous complaints with 311 and the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, but the gas remained off month after month.

A resident eventually brought the outage to the attention of Malcolm Galpern-Levin with New York Communities for Change, a Brooklyn-based organizing group — after residents had been living without gas for a year. 

As a community organizer for East Harlem and the South Bronx, Galpern-Levin told the Bronx Times he knocked on doors at 230 Brook Ave. and facilitated discussions among neighbors. The neighbors then held a meeting and decided to write a collective letter. 

“We had to organize because complaining didn’t do anything,” said the tenant. 

In a March 28 letter to management, residents demanded the gas be restored — and warned of escalating actions they might take if necessary. 

“What actions we take will depend on your response, but may include enlisting media, politicians, or city agencies to aid our cause; initiating legal proceedings against you; or even going on a rent strike,” said the letter, which was signed by nine residents. “We hope, however, there will be no need for us to act at all.” 

To residents’ relief, gas was restored on April 10.

But living for so long without cooking gas was an annoyance, the tenant said. He used a hot plate provided by management, but one of those burners died. He bought an air fryer, used his microwave more often, and bought more restaurant food than usual. He said he would have bought an electric induction burner if the gas outage had lasted any longer. 

The gas shutoff wasn’t this tenant’s first issue in the building. Some repairs, like cracked tiles and plumbing problems, were resolved easily. Others, like fighting a drastic rent increase, required more back-and-forth. 

HPD records for the building show 21 open violations dating back to 1987. Of those violations, one is Class A (non-hazardous) and 18 are Class B, signifying a hazardous condition. One violation from 2020 for visible mold is Class C, the most serious type, which is supposed to be repaired within 24 hours. 

When it came to the 16-month gas outage, the tenant who spoke to the Bronx Times said he believes that without the group’s letter, the gas would still be off. 

“I feel like the people in management was negligent,” he said, adding that it was unfair to expect rent payments on time while not maintaining critical building services. “I wouldn’t have been able to put them off for as long as they put us off.”

Reach Emily Swanson at or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes