After a 61.5% rent hike, shivering Tracey Towers tenants are wondering exactly what they are paying for.
They lost a court battle with RY Management last October, although the judge did trim the hike down from 65% over the next four years.
Tenants in 869 units at the two towering Mosholu Parkway buildings said since the first rent hike kicked in last November as renovations to the dilapidated buildings began, heat and hot water have been an off-and-on affair.
The early work included spending $2.3 million in the heating and hot water systems, replacing two boilers and refurbishing a third one at the former Mitchell-Lama affordable housing property, built in 1974.
The first rent increase of 14% – or $145 more a month – took place Nov. 14.
“We had no heat and hot water on Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Jean Hill, tenant association president. “Over the past weekend it was ice cold in the building and this morning the heat and hot water is still off. People have to get up and boil hot water just to get ready to get out of the house. We have seniors walking around in coats and hats.”
Besides trimming the rent hike by 3.5%, the final court deal included management giving the tenant organization $10,000 and strong oversight in the renovation work.
Will Madonna, attorney for the tenants, and newly elected Assemblyman Mark Gonaj brought portable heaters and thermometers to keep a record of the heat to four elderly tenants on Friday, Jan. 25.
“We’re working with management to correct these very dangerous conditions and our patience is running very, very thin,” said Madonna.
“Tenants have been more than patient with the renovations and it has gone on for far too long,” Gjonaj said. “The message has been presented to the management company to get it done.”
Tenant Margaret Mack said she had her water turned off without notice at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
“Over the weekend, we had the option of turning our hot water on, but it wasn’t hot,” Mack said. “Now, when you turn on the hot water, nothing comes out. I have to boil water just to shower.”
“RY management keeps saying the boilers are working, and they don’t know what we are talking about,” said tenant leader Hill. “They told us the work was supposed to be done by January 22 or 23, but that day came and went. People here are paying this increase and they re not getting the services they are paying for. Why am I paying $145 more and I can’t even get heat and hot water.”
RY Management spokesman Don Miller said the inconsistent heat and hot water is due to both the unusually cold weather and the renovation work on the boiler system.
“We apologize to our residents who may have been inconvenienced, but we are confident that once operational, the new boilers will provide an ample supply of heat and hot water. As always our first concern is the safety and comfort of our residents and their guests.”
Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394