Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams on Monday joined housing lawyers and dozens of tenants of 178 Rockaway Parkway in Brownsville, in support of a law suit the tenants filed against the building’s landlord, who they claimed routinely failed to adequately heat their apartments during the winter months.
Data collected from 311 calls made between October 2015 and May 2016 ranking the volume of heating complaints by ZIP codes revealed the majority of the complaints of insufficient heat were coming from underserved neighborhoods or areas undergoing rapid gentrification.
The Brooklyn ZIP code with the highest number of complaints was 11226, covering Flatbush and parts of Ditmas Park. Other ZIP codes experiencing a high number of heating complaints, included 11207, 11208, 11210, 11212, 11213, 11216, 11221, 11225, 11233, and 11238 in neighborhoods such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville and East New York.
A handful of residents had been also doing a little monitoring and record-keeping of their own with the aid of an app called Heat Seek NYC, which allows users to remotely track the temperature in their homes. The data-based evidence tenants collected from the app would verify heating abuse claims in housing court, Adams pointed out.
“My message to landlords across Brooklyn is that we’re watching,” Adams announced outside of 178 Rockaway Parkway. “Don’t harm your tenants’ quality of life all because of greed.”
“The lack of heat is a serious problem for low-income tenants in New York City. The tenants of this building have complained of inadequate heat for years to no avail,” said Sunny Noh, supervising attorney for the Tenant Rights Coalition.
“It is a common tactic for some landlords to routinely turn up the heat when HPD is scheduled to inspect their buildings, sometimes making it difficult for HPD to place violations for inadequate heat during the winter months.
The BP’s office said it intended to expand collaboration with Heat Seek NYC, by increasing awareness of the the monitoring hardware, providing data training for housing court judges and pushing for legislation that enables the city to monitor heat remotely from their homes anywhere int he city.
“Combating tenant harassment has been a hallmark of my administration, and we are tackling this challenge through traditional and groundbreaking approaches alike,” said Adams. “We are using cool technology to warm the homes of Brooklynites, while putting bad-acting landlords on the hot seat for their harassing behavior.”