BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
Some residents of Astoria’s Bridgeview II Co Apartments were left without hot water and heat for more than 55 hours over the weekend, one tenant’s son told QNS.
Although the hot water went back on for a few hours on Monday, March 16, it is off again as of Tuesday morning, according to Dannelly Rodriguez, a student at CUNY Law and a community activist who’s mother lives in the building. He said the heat never went back on.
“On Saturday at like 8:30 a.m., there was no hot water or heat, and the day before there was brown water,” Rodriguez said. “This is especially problematic because a lot of the tenants are elders who are most susceptible to COVID-19, so I felt like something needed to be done immediately.”
Rodriguez’s mother, who he says has serious health conditions and receives Section 8, is one of those tenants. When he went to visit her on the eighth floor, he realized the issue and that a number of other people in the building also didn’t have hot water and heat. He then started encouraging neighbors to file complaints with management and call 311.
Bridgeview II Apartments, located at 26-45 9th Street, is a low income, HUD apartment building with 110 units. Although Rodriguez mentions Wavecrest Management as the building’s management company in his tweets, it is actually currently managed by Axion Management LLC, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) website.
Rodriguez, a former tenant of the building, said this is not an “isolated incident.” He recalls filing a lawsuit a few years prior in order to have the building fix his mother’s leaking roof.
“They have had these kinds of incidents in the past, including boiler, heat, mold issues, broken appliances and windows issues,” Rodriguez said. “The building has a host of violations. The culture of this building is that they’re actively negligent and fail to make repairs for the people who live there. Having this boiler issue now is a manifestation of everything that’s happened throughout the years.”
An HPD spokesperson told QNS that inspectors assessed the building on Monday, and found the hot water and heat were “adequate.” They said heat was at 68 degrees (the high yesterday was 45 degrees) and the hot water was 120 degrees, OSHA’s recommended temperature for domestic hot water.
Rodriguez said the hot water was working after complaints were filed, but the heat still wasn’t working as of Monday — for several apartment units, not just his mother’s apartment.
HPD said they will work directly with tenants who need hot water and heat.
Over the weekend, Rodriguez took to Twitter to document what was going on — knowing that he’d get more responses that way.
My mother’s who has serious health issues & many other tenants at 26-45 9th St. Astoria Queens are without hot water for 24 hrs due to the negligence of Wavecrest Management. How is this acceptable in the 21st century & amidst this Corona virus pandemic? @NYCHousing @HealthNYGov
— Dannelly Rodriguez (@DR0DRIGUEZ) March 15, 2020
Rodriguez quickly caught the attention from community members and leaders like Evie Hantzopoulos, chair of the Housing Committee on Community Board 1.
“As they’re trying to promote social distancing, this is not the time to have your boiler or hot water not working,” Hantzopoulos told QNS. “It’s tough enough as it is for many people who are lower income to get their housing rights respected, but to not have these essential provisions is a violation. It’s completely unacceptable.”
Hantzopoulos emphasized that now more than ever, as the city works to implement measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, they need to make sure vulnerable communities are being protected.
Look at the water the tenants at 26-45 9th street Astoria Queens had before the hot water went off. This does not happen without years of negligence. Wavecrest Management needs to be held accountable. @NYCHousing @HealthNYGov pic.twitter.com/cP9xb9vCjq
— Dannelly Rodriguez (@DR0DRIGUEZ) March 15, 2020
Elected officials also weighed in on the issue.
The office of Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris told QNS that they immediately reached out to residents at Bridgeview.
“We immediately reached out to affected residents and the management company, to whom we expressed serious concern about what happened,” Gianaris said in a statement. “I was told hot water is now restored and I am awaiting information about the heat. I continue to be in contact with the management company to make sure services are restored for tenants as soon as possible.”
Councilman Costa Constantinides also said his office reached out to HPD to get more answers.
“The owner must fix this issue as soon as possible — especially as we’re asking people to stay indoors. Any residents experiencing outages should immediately report them to 311,” Constantinides told QNS.
Assembly member Aravella Simotas told QNS that Landlords must act with more urgency during the health crisis.
“The safety and well-being of New York residents depends on having working hot water,” she said.
But this was yesterday. Now, tenants are back to square one.
Rodriguez said that while he’s skeptical of the government’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic — “all of a sudden we have the virus and they’re like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna give you your basic needs’” — they should ensure all communities, especially communities of color who are low income, are safe.
“Even if the virus wasn’t here, this shouldn’t be happening,” Rodriguez said. “It’s important our society is being proactive not reactive when it comes to other issues like climate change and systematic racism. The rich aren’t the only ones who should be able to live their lives sustainably and with dignity.”
This story first appeared on qns.com.