A broken hot water tank has left Bed-Stuy seniors at 864 Gates Avenue without hot water for 11 days — and they have no idea when the broken unit will be fixed, they say.
Joseph Lo Giudice, a resident and administrator of the building’s tenant association, informed the building management immediately on November 27, but to no avail.
“They have a phone system that’s set up to obfuscate and deflect any kind of contact regarding complaints and repairs,” said Lo Giudice, who only ended up with a full voicemail at Shinda Property Management, the company in charge of servicing the complex.
Also the efforts of other residents to reach either the management company or the building owner Bridge Street AWME Church were futile.
“I’m 71 years old and compared to my fellow tenants, I’m a youngster,” said Lo Giudice. “Some of the people in this building are in their 80s and 90s, who don’t have cell phones, who are using canes, walkers and wheelchairs to get around. They don’t have any idea of their rights as tenants or who to call to complain.”
Still, he and his fellow residents continued to issue complaints and contacted the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and alerted Councilmember Robert Cornegy, who followed up with the city and arranged a meeting.
“We were able to secure a commitment from HPD to replace the faulty hot water tank,” said Cornegy. “In addition, we arranged a meeting for next week with the Department of Social Service’s Tenant Support Unit to ensure appropriate follow up. We take heat and hot water outages very seriously and encourage any District 36 resident experiencing a lack of heat or hot water this winter to reach out to our office.”
Lo Giudice also contacted the Bridge Street Development Corporation, a local nonprofit organization that provides housing, business and senior services to the Bedford Stuyvesant community. After speaking with the organization, he learned that his building has accrued 55 violations for issues like infestations and leaks.
Some of those violations may stem from before Shinda took over the building’s management last August, he added. But since then, there has been a steady decline in services affecting the building’s upkeep of the greenery and causing frequent elevator outages.
“The elevators have been a chronic problem, “said Lo Giudice. “But we never had problems of this scope until they took over.”
Lo Giudice will meet with Bridge Street Development next week to learn more about tenants’ rights and to explore possible legal steps.
“Our primary objective is to find out how we can protect ourselves,” said Lo Giudice. “Another objective, which may be of equal importance, is to either get a restoration of our services, such as the landscaping and proper elevator maintenance, or a rent reduction.”
While neither Shinda Management nor Bridge Street AWME Church could be reached for comment, HPD came out twice yesterday to inspect the boiler.
As of this afternoon, the building still doesn’t have hot water.