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Senator Gustavo Rivera and Urban Justice Center aid residents who have not had a reliable heat source since the beginning of the year

Claremont Houses seniors brave bitter cold

Bronx Times
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Braving the cold once again, fed up Claremont Houses seniors have turned up the heat on their building’s subpar conditions.

On Thursday, January 14, Senator Gustavo Rivera visited the senior building of Claremont Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development, after residents informed his office about the disruption of heat and hot water services at the building.

According to the senator’s office, this marks the second year the 1325 Franklin Avenue seniors have been deprived of these essential services.

Last February, Rivera had visited Claremont Houses residents as they braved freezing temperatures when only one of their two boilers was operational.

To best comprehend these ongoing heating issues, the senator penned a letter to NYCHA’s chairwoman Shola Olatoye asking about the immediate and long term solutions being explored and implemented by the authority to address the current heating issues and prevent a repeat occurrence.

“The reality here is that we are in the winter months and most of the residents in this building are seniors who have basic needs that are not being properly provided,” explained Rivera.

The senator has united with the Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center, a NYC-based non-profit organization, to file a ‘HP Action’ proceeding on behalf of the Franklin Avenue residents.

A HP Action is a legal proceeding which all tenants have at their disposal to request that the Housing Court require landlords to make necessary repairs and provide essential services.

Trudie Pogue, Claremont Houses Tenant Association president, explained that senior residents are presently using ovens and space heaters to combat the freezing indoor temperatures.

“When it’s cold outside, it’s freezing in here,” said Pogue. “This is a senior development and we’re not receiving the services we’re supposed to be getting. Some people say they don’t have any heat at all in their apartments.”

Pogue said last month one Claremont Houses resident was rushed to the hospital with pneumonia.

She added a majority of Claremont Houses senior suffer from health issues such as asthma, limited mobility or are bedridden.

Kamilla Sjödin, an attorney for UJC Anti-Eviction Services, said UJC filed a HP Action on behalf of 59 tenants alleging among other things lack of heat and a severe mice and roach infestation.

“As we approach the coldest days of this winter season, it is unconscionable that senior residents of Claremont Houses are forced to choose between heating their apartment with their oven or further exacerbating chronic medical conditions because of freezing temperatur­es,” said Sjödin.

She added, UJC has sued NYCHA, NYC Department of Buildings, NYC Housing Preservation and Development and NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Due to HPD’s absence on Wednesday, January 27, the housing court judge adjourned the case to Thursday, February 4.

In the meantime, Sjödin said UJC was successful in having DOB agree to inspect 1325 Franklin Avenue’s boilers.

Updated 5:02 pm, July 9, 2018
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