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The Heat Is On
El Diario
July 12, 2002

By José Acosta

Despite the fact that the season for heating ended May 31st, according to the law of multiple housing #79, many apartments in the Sack Wern Houses of Clason Point Gardens public housing complex, in the Bronx, which belong to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), are still getting heat. This has converted the apartments into truly uninhabitable ovens in a summer in which temperatures have surpassed 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ada Green, of Apt. A, Building 82, a preferred housing project, had to present a letter from her doctor, Hagda Ceplova, of Montefiore Hospital, after making several complaints to the Housing Authority, so that NYCHA could find her another place to live. The doctor’s note explains that the high temperature, which engages in Green’s apartment after 3 p.m., is life-threatening because Green suffers from asthma, hypertension, vinitis, osteopenia, and dyspepsia.

"I have been complaining about this situation to the Housing Authority by phone since May. But when I have gone there to look for the papers, not a single complaint has surfaced. Last week I obtained two of the papers, but NYCHA did not do anything about those two complaints. So I went to the 43rd police precinct and, they told me to call several places in Lower Manhattan. After this they went to address the problem. They say that there are two broken valves in the boiler; so that when you turn on hot water, the heater looks as if it is going to explode," explained Green.

In the boiler room there were three men working, who explained that they are contractors and do not work directly with the Department of Housing. They did not want to identify themselves, but revealed that they were changing a water meter gauge in the boiler.

In the office that administers the housing project, Janet García, the assistant to the administrator, did not want to talk with the press and asked us to communicate with NYCHA’s Public Relations department.

Among those affected are the families of apartments 82B, 82A, 80A, and 80B. In apartment 80B lives Mary Carr, a 77-year-old woman, who leaves her home after 3 p.m. because she cannot stand the heat.

"I have two air conditioners: one up and one below. But turning them on does nothing. I have to leave until the heat is turned off," complained Carr.

The spokesman of NYCHA, Howard Marder, said that the problem of the heating system in the apartments mentioned had been resolved since July 8th. He revealed that he had sent personnel from the project’s office to investigate yesterday and that on arrival at the apartments mentioned, "the heaters were not on and there was no problem with the system."

We called Ada Green to confirm Marder’s statements, and she confirmed that at the moment, 3:20 pm, the heating system of her apartment was not on.

"After el diario/LA PRENSA left, the Housing Authority sent the super of the building and a person from the administrator’s office. They asked me about the problem and I answered that there was no heating at the moment, that the problem starts after 3 p.m. Right now the heaters appear as if they exploded from overheating," explained Green.

We called Marder again and he promised to return to do another investigation of the case. However, at the time of this report, Marder had yet to contact us regarding the results of the second investigation.

Reverend Mary Clemente, of Apt. 66B, said that the area in which she lives, within the housing project, does not have problems with the heating system, but as a consequence of this matter, the apartments in this area do not receive hot water in the morning.

Several of the apartments in the projects of NYCHA are reserved for homeless families. All families that have been placed in the housing system by DHS can solicit this type of housing after having spent 3 months in the system. Victims of domestic violence can solicit NYCHA housing after having spent 8 weeks in the mentioned system, and families with 6 or more members can solicit this type of housing immediately after having entered the system. Families that have been placed by the Housing Preservation Dept. can solicit this type of housing from the day that they enter the housing system.

Translate from Spanish by Naomi Lim

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