Since January, residents — mostly seniors or working-class families — at Bland Houses in Flushing have been unable to cook or use their stoves due to a broken gas line, according to State Assemblyman Ron Kim, who is demanding city housing officials to restore gas service.
This past week, Kim issued a stern letter to Gregory Russ, chairman and CEO of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and Vito Mustaciuolo, general manager and COO of NYCHA, on behalf of his constituents living at Bland Houses at 133-50 Roosevelt Ave. The NYCHA development consists of five buildings featuring 400 apartments that house almost 900 residents in Flushing.
The broken gas line has pushed many residents to use alternative methods such as electric cookers or hot plates provided by NYCHA to prepare their meals. It has forced others to make expensive food choices outside of their limited budgets for the past six months, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Kim.
“The lack of hot, nutritious meals is more devastating for seniors and low-income families, whose economic security has also been undermined by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kim said in the letter. “Their health and well being have been greatly and negatively impacted by this situation. Some have been forced to use electric cookers or hot plates as a short-term fix, but six months without any improvements of this state of affairs is completely unacceptable.”
Kim is demanding an immediate investigation of the situation in order to restore gas service for residents. Furthermore, the assemblyman is requesting that residents receive a rent reduction and due compensation for reduced services during the past six months.
Meanwhile, in a statement sent to QNS, a NYCHA spokesperson said they have not received a letter from Kim at this time.
According to NYCHA, there are two service interruptions currently affecting two buildings at Bland Houses for a total of 20 apartments. The agency is currently in the construction phase of the repairs and does not have an estimated restoration date at this time.
The gas service restoration process involves multiple partners and steps including: shutting off the gas service, making necessary repairs, and inspection by the Department of Buildings in order to safely restore service, according to NYCHA.
NYCHA said its staff regularly provides residents with updates on progress to service restoration.
“While we understand that gas service interruptions are inconvenient, we also want to ensure our residents’ health and safety as we work to restore service as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.
In the meantime, the agency is asking that all residents continue to use the MynychaApp or call the Customer Contact Center at 718-707-7771 to create a work order ticket for any maintenance needs, including service interruptions.